How (Not) To Do Something

by Nancy Casey

Today you will be writing about something that you know how to do. Think about the many different possibilities for this and decide which one(s) to write about as you set up your page.

Draw a line at the top where the title will go. Mark off a space where you can doodle or draw if you like. Or make a frame around the whole page that you can decorate later.

Obviously, you know how to do many things. You have amassed many different skills in your life.

Some people know how to knit. Others know how to fix engines. Some can draw, cook, run marathons or read in a foreign language. Others tend plants, play sports, operate a cash register or fly airplanes.

Some skills are more mundane. Dressing for winter. Chopping an onion. Getting to work on time. Checking social media.

After you have chosen from among the many skills that you have, think about how to do this thing wrong. That’s what you’ll write about today—directions for how not to do something.

You can write from the genuine perspective of sharing the wisdom of your life experience. Or if you prefer, you can caution against doing preposterous things a person would be unlikely to do anyway.

Some examples: If you are walking across town in a snowstorm, don’t wear flip-flops… If you are going to fix a problem with your phone, don’t begin by throwing it across the room … If you are going to drive across the country, don’t leave your wallet at home…

While you are deciding what to write about, get your pen started by drawing or doodling. The motion slows your thoughts and helps you notice them better. As soon as an idea for writing comes to you, start putting down some words.

When you have filled a page with “don’ts,” go back over your work. Make small changes if you want to. Add more decoration if there is room. Think up a title.

Write the title at the top of the page. Write the date on it too, along with a signature or your initials.

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. It’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center at this time, but if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

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