Write For You:  The Opposite Game

By Nancy Casey

What is the opposite of tiny?

What is the opposite of floor?

What is the opposite of doorbell?

If you approach those three questions like they are a math problem, you might say that the first two are easy and the third one leaves you stumped.  When you play the Opposite Game, you will come up with opposites for many different words.  So you must use a loose definition of “opposite.”  Think of “opposite” as “somehow related, but definitely not the same.”

So what’s the opposite of doorbell?  Door knocker? Lonely? Dong-ding? Silence?…..

When you play the Opposite Game, the words that you come up with only have to make sense to you.  For instance, if you have a water stain on your ceiling from when the roof leaked six years ago, you might say that the opposite of “floor” is “water stain” or “grey blob.”  (Of course, you could also simply say “ceiling.”)

Here’s how you play:  Start with a word, any word at all.  (If you can’t decide on a word, start with “daylight.” ) Declare its opposite.  Then give the opposite of that word.  Write it all out carefully.  End up with a meandering chain of opposites that fill up a page.  Here’s an example that starts with “tiny.”

The opposite of tiny is huge.

The opposite of huge is a flea.

The opposite of a flea is a dog.

The opposite of a dog is “meow.”

The opposite of “meow” is…..

You can see a longer example here:  http://authornancycasey.com/opposite-game

It’s really important that you write out all the words carefully, even though it seems you’ll write “opposite” about a zillion times.  Enjoy the round, round O, the double P.  Cross the T with careful purpose.  Try to write steady and even.  Find a pace that is pleasant and won’t give you a hand cramp.  Relax into the repetition.  Instead of “thinking up” what to say next, listen for what pops into your head and use that.  You can’t get it wrong.  Enjoy wherever the wandering path of opposites takes you.

Keep writing opposites for at least one full page.  (Hint:  If that seems like too many, write bigger.)  When you are finished, write the date somewhere on the page and give it a title.  If the page seems to have a lot of empty white space on it, fill it with doodles.

In additional sessions of your writing practice this week, continue to play the Opposite Game.  Here are some variations you can try:

·         Keep going until you end up with the same word you started with.

·         Notice all the places your ideas wandered when you wrote the page, and write some comments about what was surprising or interesting.

·         Notice how your mind comes up with opposites—how the ideas pop in, what makes you get stuck, whether you like or don’t like doing this, etc.  Write some comments about that.

·         If you wrote lists of everything you can see last week, take one of those lists and write out the opposites of everything on it.  (See https://latahrecoverycenter.org/2017/01/03/a-writing-practice/)

At the end of the week, put all the pages from your writing practice in order and quietly turn the pages.  Admire them.

Nancy Casey is a writer and teacher who has lived in rural Latah County for many years.  You can see more of her work at http://www.authornancycasey.com.

If you like the idea of writing every week, but want to do it with others in a class setting, you are welcome to attend “Writing Journeys” with Ginger Rankin on Wednesdays from 4-5 at the Recovery Center.


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