A List, Plus…

by Nancy Casey

Sit yourself down in front of a scene or a situation. It can be somewhere in your home, at work, or in public. Somewhere indoors or out. A café, a park, a hallway—anywhere.

Get your page ready. Mark off a space that you will use for illustration. Draw a line across the top of the page to save space for a title. (Don’t write the actual title until after you have filled up the page.)

Settle in. Take in your surroundings. Try to use all of your senses.

Along the left-hand side of the page, write a list of what comes into your awareness. You could write down the names of things that you can see. Can you also write the names of sounds or tastes or textures? Write down words that match what you take in from your surroundings.

Keep adding items to your list until you reach the bottom of the page. Draw a line that separates the long column of words from the rest of the page.

Read over the words slowly. Think about them.

In the big, empty space on the rest of the page, begin writing. Write about anything that you want, real or imagined. As you write, include as many of the words on the left-hand side of the page as you possibly can.

You could, for example, describe what’s in front of you, using the words on your list to guide you along.

You could make up an entire scene or story that uses words from your list and has nothing to do with what’s in front of you.

If you get stuck or don’t know what to write, pick a random word on the list and write something about it. You can work your way down the whole page like that, picking one word at a time.

If you get completely stuck, draw or doodle in your illustration space. Glance at your list now and again. Eventually an idea for what to write will pop into your mind.

After you have filled the page, look it over carefully. Make small changes if you need to. When you are satisfied with the page, give it a title and write the date on it, too. Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. She taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Community Center.

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