by Nancy Casey
Begin with a blank sheet of paper. Write the letters of the alphabet, A-Z, in a line down the center of the page. Start an inch or so below top of the page because you want to leave space for some headings and the title.
Draw two lines on either side of the column of letters to make it look more like a stripe.
For the heading on the left-hand column, write the word “DO.” At the top of the column on the right, write the word “DONE.” Write the headings as big as you can, but small enough so that there will be room for a title at the end.
Choose any letter. Next to it, in the right hand column, write down something that you have done which begins with that letter. On the other side of the letter, in the left-hand column, write down something that you might do in the future which begins with that same letter.
There are many ways to approach this. You can think in terms of tasks and obligations, your “to-do” list. Or you can think about people you have seen and experiences you have had. You can put things in the “DONE” column that you never planned to do. You can put anything at all in the “DO” column, as long as you haven’t done it. Don’t worry about how likely it is that you will do it.
It’s usually best to skip around on the page instead of taking yourself on a forced march through the alphabet. Let your mind wander through the past. When you remember something you did, ask yourself, “What letter is that?”
Once our minds start to wander, they ramble pretty easily from the past to the future. Wherever it lands, ask yourself, “What letter is this? Is it a DO or a DONE?”
Gradually fill the page. Try to get something for every letter, even if you have to stretch the rules of spelling a little bit. The arrangement of items on the page often leaves blank space around the edges for doodling or illustration, so take advantage of that. And of course, give your work a title and write the date on it. Here is an example of what a person could write.
This exercise gets to be more fun if you do it often. Try it for several days in a row without looking at yesterday’s page before you write today’s. You will be fascinated by the items that add and subtract themselves from your pages. It’s fascinating because this is your life!
Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.
Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center in the past. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with a writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.