Alphabet Salad

by Nancy Casey

Today you will begin with the alphabet. After that, it’s hard to guess what you’ll write next.

Draw a line at the top to reserves space for your title, although you can’t possibly know what the title ought to be until you have finished writing the page.

Directly under that line, up close and almost touching it, write the letters of the alphabet, A to Z. They will serve as a hand reference for you as you write.

Put a dot on the page that’s half-way down, or a little further. The dot will remind you to make a change when you get to it.

You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration.

Starting at the top, underneath the letters of the alphabet, write a word that begins with A. Next to it, a word that begins with B. After that, one that begins with C. And so forth, 26 words all the way to Z.

What you write doesn’t have to “make sense”. It only matters that the words go from A to Z. When you get to Z, start with A again. Keep going like that until you get to the dot.

Note that nobody said you have to write “real” words. Use the first word that comes to mind rather than trying to think up a perfect one. If no word comes to mind, make one up! It’s okay to have words like “quberpy” or “kzzl” if words like that are what you come up with.

When you get to the dot, pause your writing and draw a decorative border that runs all the way across the page. Read over all the words you have written. Alternate between reading and doodling on the decorative border until the border looks good and you remember what a lot of the words are.

In the remaining space, write a story (or something) that is made up of words from the top of the page. You can use other words, too, of course. Let the story tell itself without being overly concerned with the logic of it. It’s okay if it spills out like a big word salad.

When the page is full, look it over carefully, top and bottom, and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page. Sometimes you can find a title that makes “sense” out of it all.

Write the date on the page 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.

If you would like to make a page like this in the company of other people, join us at the Latah Recovery Center from 4-5 PM on Tuesdays. After we’ve made a page together, we do other exercises, and (optionally) share our work. For a calm and supportive early-evening time, join us at 4:00, and then stick around for the art class that begins at 5:00.

Curious about what writing can do for you? Taking a poetry class is a fun way to experiment. Poetry for Recovery is an online class that will meet 4 Thursdays, starting July 22. If you are interested, ontact Nancy 

Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

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