Write for You: Present and Past

by Nancy Casey

We often talk about the past and the present as if there is a clear dividing line between the two. Yet the past adds richness and depth to our present moments, so it’s never completely gone.

Today you will write a page that plays with the way the present and the past are braided up together.

Begin with the present. Take in your immediate surroundings. What objects are you aware of? What sounds do you hear? Can you detect any movement? What’s on your mind?

As soon as your awareness lands on something present in your world, write down what it is. It’s best to write whatever comes to mind first, rather than trying to come up with a “good idea.” Any idea will work. Write a line or two.

Then look up, look around, and let your awareness fall on something else that’s in the present tense for you. Drop down about 3 lines on the page and describe what you noticed.

Look up, notice something new, leave about 3 lines of space, and write that down. Fill the page this way—although the page won’t really be “full” because there is a lot of white space in it.

Change to a different color of pen.

Go back to the first thing you have written. In the blank space that follows add some information that has to do with the past.

Read the second thing you have written about the present. Add an idea that has something to do with the past.

Continue that way down the page, adding a thought about the past in the blank space after each thought from the present.

You will end up with a description of a series of present moments, along with some information about how each moment is woven into the past.

When you have finished, read over what you have written and give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add decoration and color to the page as needed. Here is an example of what a person could write.

You can share what you have written by posting 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. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

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