Write for You: Details, Details

by Nancy Casey

Think about a story that you can tell from your life.  Something that happened to you, or something you witnessed.  It can be an event from a long time ago, or something recent.  Something sad, happy, scary, fun, or boring.  It just has to be something that happened when you were there. 

As you assemble your writing materials, let your mind roam around your experience and decide what to write “about.”   You won’t be writing about it in the usual storytelling way.

Your mission will be to write about the event in a way that nobody recognizes it but you.  You will not change any information, or add anything that is false.  Instead, you will write down details from the story, but no details that actually give the story away.

Confusing?  Here’s an example.

Let’s suppose that I went to a party and at that party I had an interaction with someone that had a big effect on me.  Let’s say I was startled at the time, and thought about it for days afterwards.  Maybe it was funny.  It could have been kind, or mean.  Maybe it was a piece of good advice.  Or bad advice.  Maybe I’ve thought about it for years afterwards and it changed the way I see everything.  Maybe I have shared this story with lots of people. Perhaps I have never told a soul. 

How can I write about all that in a way that nobody but me really knows the “true” subject matter?  It’s all about the details.

I could describe the food at the party, tell what I ate and how much.  I could describe the location of the party, what the place looked like from the outside.  Do I remember first thing I saw when I walked in the door?  Maybe I can recall the shoes somebody was wearing.  (What shoes was I wearing?)  Perhaps I can dredge up a recollection of the furniture, the bathroom, the weather, or the music.  Of course I would remember everything about the important interaction, but I would leave all of that out.

Here is an example of the kind of thing that you might write.  Don’t forget to put a title at the top of your page and to write the date on the page somewhere as well.

This is a handy exercise to do when you want to write about something and you don’t know where to begin. 

It is also a good way to maintain your privacy if other people read your writing.

Regardless of what you have chosen to write about, when you return to a page of “irrelevant details” later, you will like it.  No matter who else reads it and or how hard they might study it, nobody will ever understand it the way you do. 

During the week, be alert for an event or two that you could write about in this way.  If you go to the grocery store or out for a meal, look around for details you could relate about the experience without any hints about what the experience really is.

If it’s snowing out and your feet are cold and wet, as you go about your day, take note of everything that doesn’t involve your feet.  If you write these details down, chances are that years from now, you could find that page and say, “Ah, that was the day I had such cold feet.”


Nancy Casey teaches at the Recovery Center on Thursdays.  Check the calendar for classes and times.  All are welcome.  Call the Recovery Center  208-883-1045 or email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

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