Spree is a story written around and read through a map. You can read more about some of the technicalities of how I created it, or get in touch with any questions.

Want to write something with a map? Here’s a starting point:

I like writing first drafts with a pen in a notebook. You’ll also need a screen and an internet connection for the map, and something you can use as a timer. A smartphone is fine for all these things, and a lightweight delight in a pocket if the weather is good and you want a break from the house.

This whole exercise takes about 30 mins tops. You can speed it up by setting the timer for 2 mins rather than 5, or fill a whole hour by making it 10.

  1. 1. Go back the final page of Spree or open up What3Words and select a random location. Maybe your Nana’s address, a favourite cafe or somewhere you fancy visiting one day.
  2. 2. Switch the map to ‘satellite view’ so that you’re looking down on the world like a bird in flight
  3. 3. Let your eyes travel over the streets you can see and imagine someone is moving from your starting point to another spot quite close by. What route would they take- a main road? A side road? Would they jump over a shed or nip round a passing car?
  4. 4. Write down the three words (from What3Words) for your starting point.
  5. 5. What are the three words for the next square on your route?
  6. 6. And the next?
  7. 7. And the next?
  8. 8. … keep going until you reach your end point. Now you have a scrumptious list of word-combos in front of you.
  9. 9. Look at this mass of words: does anything strike you about them? Are you drawn to some more than others?
  10. 10. Delete any you don’t like, aren’t fussed for, don’t feel drawn to.
  11. From those left, choose your favourite one and circle it (or highlight if you’re on a computer).
  12. 11. Go back to this square (type the three words into What3Words to get there fastest) and have a really good nose around. Zoom in. If it’s a Streetview location, drag and drop the wee yellow person to have a 360 explore. If it’s not, think about what you can see from your bird’s eye view. Are there trees? Houses? Vehicles? What else is around it?
  13. 12. This is where you start writing your story, but it’s not where your character’s story started. Their story started two hours ago when they heard the most terrible thing ever and started to run.
  14. 13. You’re writing in the 1st person present (I see the tree, I am passing the car, I jump over the shed and land with a crash).
  15. 14. Imagine they are on that square. Think about what is around. Does the person who is telling the story want to run or to hide? Do they need to catch their breath? What can they smell?
  16. 15. Set a timer for 5 minutes and freewrite: this means you just write whatever comes into your head without thinking about it. You don’t stop to delete or edit, you just keep going.
  17. 16. When the timer stops, look at the first of the three words you circled/highlighted. You have to work this word in the next sentence you write. It can be as ridiculous as you like: in fact, the more unexpected the better.
  18. 17. Set the timer for another 5 minutes and freewrite again, no stopping, no thinking about it beyond remembering to work that word in. What can your character feel if they stretch out their foot? Are they hot or cold? If they jumped, where would they land?
  19. 18. When the timer goes, look at the second of the three words you circled/highlighted. You guessed it- now you have to work this word in the next sentence you write.
  20. 19. Set the timer for another 5 minutes and freewrite again, no stopping, no thinking about it beyond remembering to work that word in. What would happen if they opened their mouth and stuck their tongue out? What would they see if they looked over their left shoulder? How do they feel about what’s coming next?
  21. 20. You know what’s coming now! When the timer goes, look at the third and last of the three-word combo that has brought you so far into your story without you realising this is where it was going to take you. Yup, you need to work this word into the next sentence you write.
  22. 21. Set the timer for 5 minutes for your final freewriting session. Don’t get stuck in your head- just make it weird, make it wonderful and have some fun with where your imagination is speeding off to. What happens if they slow down. What can they feel touching their cheek. What’s that sound coming from?
  23. 22. When the timer goes, put your pen down. Good work.
  24. 23. Drink a glass of water because writing is seriously dehydrating. Stretch your legs and do a couple of minutes of yoga if that’s accessible for you. Give your eyes a screen break.
  25. 24. BONUS MAP ROUND: read back through this fantastically scrappy first draft of a story you’ve just written. Where did your character end up moving around during your four writing bursts?
  26. 25. See if any of those map locations give you cool What3Words triple word combos you want to use as a verbal mood board when you write more/feel like editing.


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