Peter Pan Moat Brae – Writing Activities

Café Stories

Every Wednesday afternoon during the summer you will find me at Peter Pan Moat Brae, the Scottish Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling, helping people write. In What’s Your Story we look at how to tell personal stories about life events in a way that will make people want to read them. I help participants work out what they want to say, and how to say it with exercises, questions, and prompts.

In The Write Way we look at how to describe experiences such as objects we encounter, places we visit, or live in, smells, people, tastes, and textures, in ways that help a reader experience them too.

Both activities are centred on exploration and fun. I’m pretty sure JM Barrie had fun writing Peter Pan, and feel that you, too, should enjoy the writing process.


Autumn is here, so my weekly sessions at Moat Brae have come to an end. I miss them, but am currently putting together a cunning plan for more memoire writing workshops elsewhere in Dumfries. Watch this space.

“It’s no secret that the best place to write, in my opinion, is in a café. You don’t have to make your own coffee, you don’t have to feel like you’re in solitary confinement and if you have writer’s block, you can get up and walk to the next café while giving your batteries time to recharge and brain time to think.” – J.K Rowling

There’s something inherently romantic about writing in a café; Hemingway wrote his memoir, A moveable Feast, in La Closerie des Lilas, a café near his Paris home, turning the people he saw into characters. Sartre wrote Being and Nothingness in the Café de Flore, and zillions of other writers have taken their notebooks and pencils into cafés, away from domestic distractions, to pen their stories and poems.

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A Jobbing Writer's Head Soup

My son and I

It’s six-o-five, still dark, and I am sitting by an open window at the dining table of our New York apartment. The city is waking, cars, which never quite stop moving, are gathering force, a man walks by with a small backpack on. Across the street is a school advertising ‘college access for all’ in which I see ghostly figures moving past its many windows. A garbage truck hisses to a stop at the end of the street and someone honks. We arrived!

Which in itself is a miracle.

Our flight was at nine-forty on Saturday morning. We wanted to be at the airport at seven-forty, it’s an hour and a half drive from our house, and we had to park in a long-stay, so planned to leave at five-thirty. I set the alarm for four. I usually don’t sleep much the night before a trip, so I was rather surprised when I heard Dave say, ‘Eryl… I think we over-slept,’ and looked at the time to find it was six-thirty-eight. We had overslept by two-and-a-half hours. I seriously doubted we’d make it, but jumped into action anyway to wash, dress, and pack the last few remaining things. We drove away at about seven.

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