Write for You: Not You

by Nancy Casey

Today in your writing you will have a chance to think about all the things that you are not.

You will do this by inventing an imaginary person who is different from you in many ways.

For example, if you are a student sitting in a chair with a notebook, wondering what you are going to write, you could begin by writing, “The student is sitting in a chair with a cat, wondering what to name it.” That same student could begin with something more far-fetched, something like, “The professor is sitting on a log in the forest, with a map, wondering which way to go.”

After you have written one sentence to describe an imaginary person who is not like yourself, write another one. And another one. And another. Until you almost-fill the page.

What time did you get up this morning? What are you wearing? What color are your eyes? What is your gender? Use details about yourself as springboards for describing your imaginary person. Twist your details around so they don’t describe you anymore.

Since your person is imaginary, they can have any powers and characteristics that your imagination wants to give them–as long as you don’t have them, too. Your person can fly and breathe under water if that suits your fancy (and you can’t.) They can be microscopic or trapped inside a tree. Or they can be the ordinary kind of person someone would run into around town–as long as they wouldn’t remind anyone of you.

Write down as many details as you can about this person. If you run out of ideas, look back at yourself. What’s going on? What will you be doing today? How many siblings do you have? Where do you live? What color is your hair? What do you do for fun?

As you take note of a detail about yourself, turn it into something different or opposite. Use that new detail to describe your imaginary person. It’s okay if your imaginary person turns into a bit of a hodgepodge. They’re imaginary!

Stop writing before you get to the very bottom of the page. Leave a couple inches of white space.

Go back and read over what you wrote. If you want to, you can make changes or squeeze in some more details, as long as the details aren’t like you. Have you thought of a name for this imaginary person? What would it be like to be this person?

In the last remaining space on the page, add a few more sentences. You could continue describing the imaginary person. Or you could draw a line across the page beneath what you have written and write some comments about it.

When you have finished, 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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