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Paston walk:
sensory writing

On the walk around the village of Paston, there is lots to inspire the senses in this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Wellbeing: writing while noticing your senses is fun, can increase alertness and energize, help you to engage with the present moment (also known as mindfulness) and increase your confidence in expressing yourself. 

Then challenge yourself further: sensory writing also works well with the story of the Pastons in the village. The  Pastons were in tune with nature, working with the land as evidenced by their Great Barn and throughout their letters. We challenge you to sensory writing using the Paston letters as sources of inspiration. Margaret Paston's (1422- 84) are particularly vivid in their descriptions.

 

Your mindful connection with Paston Country in 3 steps

  1. Resource: as you do the walk pay attention to the scene at each of the walk stops. (You can also see photographs at: Instagram details).

  2. Preparation: think about what you have seen or might see, hear, feel and sense at each stop on the walk.

  3. Use these thoughts to spark your writing. Spend 5 minutes writing as if you are standing in each spot. How do you do this you might ask?

Examples

Example 1: Imagine yourself among the wildflowers and grasses you see by the waysides.

  • What colours and shapes do you see?

  • What can you smell?

  • What does the air feel like?

Once you have a picture in your mind, use these words to finish the sentence: “When I’m surrounded by fields I ...”


Example 2: Imagine being inside St Margaret’s Church in Paston

  • What can you see?

  • What can you touch?

  • What do you sense?

Once you have a picture in your mind, use these words to start writing and finish the sentence: “Standing where the Pastons once stood inside the church, I sense …”

Top Tip: thick description

Engage in ‘thick’ or detailed description. Think about the adjectives you use (describing words). Do synonyms work by enriching and building the sensory experience or do you need to find precise words to articulate your sensory reading? Sensory descriptions can help to explain things or how something or somebody is affected. While it is good to begin focusing on one sense, you rarely can describe one without involving others. For example, inside the Church, choose an object and describe its shape, but also its colours, size, where it is, if viable what it feels like to touch. Use thick description to equip your reader to imagine being there and learn something of the story of your experience.

Challenge

Reflect on what you have written. If you have left a sense out, or paid less attention to one, the next time you write you could challenge yourself to fully engage with that sense.

Be part of the Paston community:

  1. Share your writing, or a part of it, or your reading of it, by posting with the hashtag #pastonfootprints on social media, or email us material for the gallery of inspiration at Pastonfootprints@gmail.com

  2. Tell us what you thought of the activity #Pastonfootprints

Inspiration from the letters

In addition, or instead of the walk, you might wish to dig deeper with sensory writing as a way to experience and connect to the letters.

1. Resource: Pick any one, or collection, of the Paston letters This Is Paston: Search the Paston Letters and Documents. You could do a character or place search to get a selection. Pick out key phrases or words that stand out for you.

2. Preparation:  In the scenes the Pastons write about, picture yourself looking through Paston eyes, think about the sounds they would have heard, imagine their sense of touch, if they would taste anything and what they feel. Set yourself a timer of 10 minutes, writing as if you are the chosen Paston character of your letter experiencing the scene.

3. Use the imagined sensory prompts to spark your writing.

Top Tips

Use thick description to finish these sentences:

With the sight of X, I feel  …
When I touched the …
When I hear X I believe …
The taste of X made us …
Have you ever thought the smell of X  …

Finally, be part of the Paston community:

  1. Share your writing, or a part of it, or your reading of it, by posting with the hashtag #pastonfootprints on social media, or email us material for the gallery of inspiration at Pastonfootprints@gmail.com

  2. Tell us what you thought of the activity #Pastonfootprints