Write for You: Shouldn’t Say Should

by Nancy Casey

You shouldn’t say “should.” Should you?

We’ve all probably observed ourselves or someone else organizing all of life into a pile of “shoulds.” I should do this. I should do that. I should do stop doing this other thing. I should forget about it. I should vacuum, study, walk, apologize, eat, sleep, sing, listen, work…

The problem with such a pile of “shoulds,” of course, is that they can get to weigh so heavy on your shoulders that you can’t get anything done.

But people wouldn’t lay all those “shoulds” upon themselves with no reason. There is always something better behind it.

Today’s writing will be in two parts. First you will take a few minues—only a few!—to wallow in your “shoulds.” Then you will look behind them for the good things hiding there.

Begin with a clean sheet of paper. Draw a vertical line down the middle of it, so it is divided into two halves, left and right. (Leave a little bit of room at the top to write the title after you have finished.)

Down the left-hand side, write the letters of the alphabet, A through Z. Now pretend you have superpowers. For each letter, write down something you “should” do that begins with that letter. Because of your superpowers, when you finish writing, you will wave your hand and everything on your list will be accomplished. So go a head and be extravagant with your should

Should you have something for every letter? You can decide.

Look back over your list. Ask yourself about the good things that happens when each of the “shoulds” gets done. When the “should” gets accomplished, something about it will make you happy. It might be little or it might be big.

On the right hand side of the page, use the ideas that come from the “shoulds” to write about things that make you happy.

You can write the second part, any way you want. You can make another list, write random thoughts, or explain something in detail. Every time something from your “should” list reminds you of something that makes you happy, write the happy part down.

For example… Imagine that for the letter “F” someone wrote, “Fix the roof.” The thing that makes them happy about having the roof fixed could be something like “getting the important chores finished” or “learning how to do something new.” (It depends on the person. It could be lots of things.)

When you have finished writing, go back over the page and draw stars by the best parts.

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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