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Class 01 | 14 Feb 2020

  1. Studio activities
    1. Introduction
    2. Memories
      1. ⏰️5-minute exercise: Listing worlds
      2. ⏰️5-minute exercise: Freewriting about a memory
      3. ⏰️15-minute discussion: Describing a memory
      4. Outcomes
  2. Assignments
    1. Representing a memory
    2. Fictional worlds
    3. Object
  3. Resources
    1. Death of 1000 Cuts

Studio activities


In class, we introduced ourselves, and read through the course handbook.

We then did the following activities:


We’ve all lived multiple lives in multiple worlds – the world where you were 5 years old, the world where you visited an exotic place for the first time, the world where you fell in love, the world of the worst job you’ve had, the world where you were happiest, etc.

Please note: in the following exercises, the writing is just a tool to help you think – please write in whatever language or medium helps you think the best.

⏰️5-minute exercise: Listing worlds

Write down as many of these worlds as you can on a sheet of paper. You can write whatever you need to take you back to that world – one word, a sentence, an address, a smell, a song, etc.

⏰️5-minute exercise: Freewriting about a memory

This exercise is designed to get you to think about a memory in detail, so that you can describe it to someone else.

Now choose one of the items on your list. Write as much as you can about the memory. What sensations did you feel? What was the lighting like, who was there, what did it smell like, what did it sound like?

⏰️15-minute discussion: Describing a memory

Now you have thought about the memory, try to convey it to the person next to you in as much detail as you can.

As you’re listening to the other person, try to identify which elements of their description carry the most weight, or convey the strongest images or sensations to you. Is it something that you recognise visually? Is it that you can see the other person getting excited/nervous/etc? Is it the accuracy of the description? What elements of the world are useful to you?


We discussed these memories in class. Some of the memories people introduced included:

  • Being small and in a temple, making a trade-off (visiting the boring temple in order to be able to go and see the fun beach)
  • Being in a new place, not knowing the language and the people; being in a narrow elevator in a capsule hotel in Kyoto.
  • The smell of sun-baked pine needles, on family hikes through the mountains. Family camping trips once a year - some trips were miserable. It was type 2 fun - the type that is not directly fun at the time, but great fun to reminisce about later.
  • The smell of incense in a temple during a candle-lit festival; the smoke would hang in the air, the room was hazy
  • Had a strong desire to play violin as a child, but was not allowed. The workaround was playing an imaginary violin in the dark, made of 2 kebab skewers. The turning off of a light at night time.
  • Memories of road trips with the family: driving to Austria and Italy with parents. The feeling of being on the move; driving through the mist is a vivid memory; the feeling of blankets in the car. Waking up in the confinement of a van, not being sure of the time of day. The surprise of seeing the sunshine; the contrast between living in a van for a year to being in a house again. This reminds me of the sensation of living in another country, waking up confused about which room you are in.
  • Being a child riding on father’s shoulders; father bought a pitta bread with yoghurt (labneh), walking and feeling like a giant (giving high-fives to friends). The sharing of a moment, the sensation of being together and sharing this warm bread – what every child likes experiencing, parents helping you overcome fear, whilst eating warm bread.
  • An adventure with a motorbike which kept breaking and being fixed and re-fixed by grandfather, father, and brother, which smelt of burning rubber. It was so loud that the neighbours in the next village could hear it (‘sounded like putting a bear screaming in a metal box’). It shot flames from the exhaust.
  • Father getting a new car; not many people had cars at the time as public transport was so good. It had a cassette player. They listened to cassettes of children’s stories; when not listening to cassettes they’d listen to the radio with the pull-up aerial. Memories that everyone else remembered: watching raindrops on windows; roll-down windows; putting your hand out of the window.
  • Aged about ten, family moved to a small room near the beach, in the mountains. Spent about a year and a half with family there. Going to the beach with brother, the feeling of salty wind, a little sticky on your skin. The smell of cheese! Getting into petty fights with a sibling; sunrise, with strong shadows, climbing with little brother.


There are three assigments for next week:

Representing a memory

Find a way to represent the memory you described earlier. You can use any medium or method. Bring your representation to class next week.

Fictional worlds

Prepare a small presentation about 2-3 of your favourite constructed worlds. It can be anything: a TV series, a film, a book, a game, an artist, etc. The criteria are that the thing has to engage in the building of a world.

Think about:

  • What logic drives this world? What leaps of faith do the audience need to take to believe in it?
  • How do you engage with this world? What are the ‘hooks’ that give it resonance for you?
  • How do an audience engage with the world? Is there a strong fan community?

Please fill in this form on Google Drive to upload your work. The form asks for a few factual questions about the fictional world you’re describing, a 100-word description of the world (you can write more if you like), and up to 5 representative images with copyright attribution (so we can embed the images and text on this website later).

Fill in the form once per fictional world you’re describing - you should fill it in 2-3 times! You’ll present the world using what you’ve uploaded next session.

👉️Form: your fictional worlds 👈️


Bring in an object which has emotional resonance for you. Prepare a short presentation (2-3 mins) which tells us about the object: where did it come from, how does it signify a world you’ve inhabited? Why does it mean something to you?

Your object does not have to have a high or low value, but should be something that evokes a memory or emotion for you. Please note, your object will be treated with respect in class, but may be passed around to your colleagues.

Stuck for ideas? You could bring in:

  • an object you use every day (e.g. a pen, a notebook, a water flask, keys)
  • an object which reminds you of another place or another time (e.g. a photograph, a piece of jewelry, an old toy, a memento of a person or place)


Death of 1000 Cuts

If you enjoyed the writing exercises above, you might enjoy Tim Clare’s podcast Death of 1000 Cuts, and in particular his free 8-week podcast/writing programme Couch to 80k bootcamp. The exercises are enjoyable and really get your creative mind working - and the course takes about 20 minutes per day.

Copyright © 2020 Ollie Palmer. Site content distributed under an MIT license (you are free to reuse content as you like); student work remains their property.