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Scotland's Stories writing prompt: When we were young

A writing prompt inspired by our Scotland's Stories: Adventure campaign.

Language: English

Last updated: 05 June 2023

An illustration of a shoe print made of icons on a green background. The icons include a microphone, pens, books, a map of Scotland and the letters BWS

You can also access this prompt in Gaelic.

Adventure is all around us in our youth – a time when everything feels new. Whether it's a make-believe game in the playground, a late-night teenage jaunt, or a time you tried something new, our younger years are bursting with stories.

This writing exercise will help you explore your adventurous childhood or adolescence through functional writing. Functional writing is a type of writing that serves a purpose – instruction manuals, recipes, letters, invitations, adverts, to-do lists . . .

Your piece could be a letter to your younger self from yourself now (or vice versa!), an instruction manual to recreate one of your favourite childhood memories, or a recipe for an escapade. As long as you take us on an adventure from your real-life youth, we’ll come along for the ride!

Warm-up: sensory adventure

Take yourself back to a place from your youth – this could be your childhood bedroom, the playing fields of your high school, the bus you used to take to the shops. Think about what you could smell, see, hear, taste or touch. How did you feel in that place? Was the seat scratchy, hard, squashy? Think of who else would have been there, what colours you could see, if it's loud or quiet. Try to be as thorough as possible – whether it's the smell of clouds of Lynx in the changing rooms, the scratch of chalk on the board or the shrieks of summer holiday games, it will all help your reader feel immersed in your world.

Set a timer for five minutes and try to write about this place without stopping until it goes off. This is a practice called 'free writing' – the only rules are you don't delete or cross anything out, you don't read it back until after the timer goes, and you don't worry about if it’s 'good' or not! This is just to get your pen moving and your brain whirring – think of it like stretching before a long run. If you find your mind wandering during the five minutes, focus on one of your senses to bring you back to that place.

When your five minutes are up, take a moment to read back what you've written. Do any emotions or ideas stand out to you? Did anything come back to you that you weren't expecting? Underline or highlight any words or phrases that resonate or stand out.


Now you've warmed up, it's time to start thinking about functional writing. There are lots of different forms this can take – anything that serves a purpose.

Take a piece of paper (or a new page in your document) and start brainstorming ideas for your piece based on different forms of functional writing. Some ideas could be:

Try to come up with at least 10 ideas.

Start writing

Once you have something you feel excited about, it's time to start writing! You can tell your story and interpret the theme of adventure in any way you like – as long as the piece tells the story of a real-life adventure of yours.

Use your warm-up exercise to help guide you when you get stuck. Think about the sounds, smells, and noises of the adventure you're sharing, as well as the feelings you had at the time and your feelings re-telling it years later.