What It’s Not

by Nancy Casey

We can discover new ways to understand something if we direct our attention to what it isn’t. That’s what you’ll do in your writing today.

As you gather up your writing materials and set up your page, decide what you will write about. It can be anything at all. Not a whole wide story, just a thing.

You can choose an object. Something from your immediate surroundings–in the room or out a window. You can pluck the object from your imagination. It could be something you remember or something you invent. It doesn’t necessarily have to be real.

Instead of an object, you could write about an action or activity.  Dancing, talking on the phone, attending a meeting online, or something like that.

You can decide to write about a concept, such as joy, memory, or hope.

Once you have decided what to write about, begin by telling about what it isn’t.

For instance, a person could decide to write about “breakfast.” They could write down, “Breakfast is not made of rocks.” Or “Breakfast is not something to enjoy while you are asleep.” They could say, “Breakfast does not chirp, sing, yell for help.” Someone could add, “Breakfast doesn’t care if it has a broken tail light.”

Be patient with yourself as the ideas flow in. When you hold something in your mind and cast about for details of what it isn’t, you are juggling two thoughts at once. It can take a few minutes for your mind to coordinate itself to work like that.

If you have trouble getting started, begin by drawing or doodling.

Once you get going and find your groove, you’ll start to notice that the possibilities for what something isn’t are as big and wide as the whole universe. As you fill the page you might surprise yourself. You will certainly notice how clever you are.

After you the page is filled up, read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add additional color or decoration if you like. When you are satisfied with your work, 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 occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center and offers free online writing coaching for people in recovery. For information  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

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