Left and Right

by Nancy Casey

We tend not to see what surrounds us in our daily life. We’re just so used to it, our eyes pass over just about everything without actually noticing anything. Today’s writing exercise will give you a chance to focus on a small part of your surroundings, rather than trying to take in everything.

First, set up your page. Draw a line at the top where you will write the title after you have finished the rest of the page. If you are going to set aside a space for drawing, put it either across the top or the bottom, or smack in the very middle of the page. (You can draw or doodle in that space before, during, or after your writing.) Finally, draw a line down the middle to divide the remainder of the page into two equal parts.

Turn your head so it faces 90 degrees to the left so that your gaze goes directly out across your left shoulder. What do you see? On the left hand side of the page, write down some of what you see directly to your left. Add a short (or long) comment about each item you write down. You could describe it in exquisite detail or explain why it is there. If it is something of great significance to you, you could explain that. Or you could write anything at all about what it reminds you of.

When you have filled the left-hand side of the page with observations about what is directly to your left, read over what you have written. Then turn your head to the right, look out across your right shoulder and once again describe a few of the things that you see directly to your right and comment on them. When that side of the page is filled up, read over what you have written.

Now that all of your writing space is full, turn your head to the left again and look at what’s there. Make a mental note of five or six things that you could have written about, but didn’t. There’s no room left to write about them on this page, so just notice them and tell yourself what you could have written about them.

Then turn your head to the right and do the same thing—notice what you didn’t write about and make comments to yourself about each thing.

As you do this looking-without-writing, a title might come into your mind. Or maybe it already occurred to you as you read what you wrote down. If you haven’t filled your drawing space, perhaps the title will arrive as you do that.

When you have thought up a title, write it on the line at the top of the page. Put the date and a signature somewhere on the page, too.

Here is an example of what someone’s page could look like.

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. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

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