The Old and the New

by Nancy Casey

Sometimes it feels like nothing ever changes. Other times things feel so chaotic, it seems like nothing stays the same. The truth about life and living, of course, lies somewhere between these two extremes. Whether it’s easy to see that or not.

Today’s exercise will give you a chance to notice parts of your life that lie on both ends of that spectrum, which helps you see that change and stability are always operating at the same time.

Begin by setting up your page.  Draw a line at the top where you will write your title when you have filled up the rest of the page. If you are going to set aside a box or a blob to fill with illustration, put it in the middle somewhere. Then draw a line, straight or squiggled, that will divide the writing space in two relatively equal parts. Label one side of the page “Old” and the other side “New.”

As you do the setup, relax your mind and try to notice what’s old and what’s new in your life. You can think about things—the objects around you and your various possessions, like dishes, clothing, electronics, and furniture. You can also think about where you keep your things or how and when you use them.

Locations can be old or new to you—your home, your workplace, your favorite or un-favorite places to go. The appearance or disappearance of people in your life can be old or new.

Many intangible things can be old and new as well. Your beliefs. Your attitude. What you do and don’t understand.

On the “old” side of the page, write down what’s old in your life. Say what it is, make a comment or two about it and move on to another one. Do the same for the “new” side of the page. You can fill one whole side of the page and then the other. Or you can skip back and forth by letting various objects and aspects of your life float into your mind and then asking yourself, “Is this old or is this new?”

You can pause anytime during your writing to draw or doodle. Sometimes that helps ideas come to mind. If you prefer you can do all of the drawing at the beginning, or the end. Or you can skip the drawing altogether.

Allow you page to come together however it will. When it is full, take a break and look over everything that you have done. When a title pops into your mind, 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 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. 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.

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.

Sensing the Silence

by Nancy Casey

For your writing today, you must surround yourself with as much silence as you can. Turn off the music, silence the devices, and unplug the machines. If other people are in your living/writing space, let them know, if necessary, that you won’t be engaging for a bit. Be as still as you can.

Quiet your mind as much as your mind will allow. Maybe you know some techniques for that, such as slow breathing or meditation.

Perhaps you will want to go outside. That works. You can lie down if you like. Sit somewhere. Or even take a slow walk. The idea is to create as much silence around and inside of yourself as you can.

Once you have settled into your personal puddle of silence, allow your awareness to take in whatever information your senses receive. When you are ready, write a page about what you noticed.

You can do this by creating the silence around you, and then while you are inside it, writing down what you perceive.

You might prefer to spend 10 or 20 minutes in the silence and after that write down some of the things that you perceived.

It could even turn out that creating and experiencing the silence itself was so interesting to you that you want to write about what that was like.

Some people find silence intolerable and impossible. If you think you are like that, give it a try anyway and write about what it was like to make the attempt.

Sometimes your mind refuses to be quiet. A little bit of silence can make room for plans, worry, regrets, old conversations, and remembering. When that happens, actively return to your senses. Ask yourself questions like, What do I hear? How do my feet feel? What do I see? Where is my tongue? Do your best to take in details of the present moment. Even a really boring moment has details in it. Write some of them down.

Before you start to write, make sure to leave room at the top of the page where you can write your title when you are all finished. At any point in your writing, you can shift over to drawing or doodling. Some people find that moving the pen without making words and sentences helps them be more grounded and aware of the present moment. This, in turn, will give you more things to write about.

When the page is full, look it over carefully 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.

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.


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.

Who We Use to be

by Nancy Casey

We all use to be different. We use to be less than two feet tall. We use to be unaware that 1 + 1 = 2. We use to have friends, habits or interests different than the ones we have now. Today in your writing, you will focus on some of the details of the way you use to be.

Think about this as you set up a page with a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob to set aside some space for illustration.

Because every life is characterized by change, there is much to say about the way you use to be. In some cases things get better, in others they get worse, but over and over again, things get different.

Consider your habits—eating, drinking, and amusements. Did your day always begin—or end—the way it does now? Is there someone you use to always talk to who is no longer in your life, or who has left the world? Did you use to read, exercise, or look at a screen more or less than you do now?

Many particulars slide out of our lives as we mature. What did you use to do when you were little that would be odd if you did it now? How did you use to think the world worked? What expectations did you use to have for your life?

Have you always lived where you live now? Dress the way you dress today? Listen to the same music you listened to a year (or a decade) ago? Consider the ways your body has changed over time. Consider your health, your attitude, and the activities you turn to when you are bored.

Begin writing with the phrase, “I use to…” and write whatever comes into your mind next. Describe what you use to do, but leave out the parts about why you use to do it or why you don’t do it anymore.. Focus your concentration on the way you use to be without judging or explaining.

After you have described one thing that you use to do, repeat the words “I use to…” and describe some other quality or activity that has melted out of your life.

Fill the page that way, and when you have finished, you will have made a mosaic of details drawn from your past. Maybe you will be surprised or impressed by the ways that describing how you use to be can also describe the way you are.

At any point in your writing, you can pause to add illustrations or doodling to give you time to think.

When the page is full, look it over carefully 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.

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.


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 in the neighborhood, they will return.

Would-a, Could-a, Should-a

by Nancy Casey

Would-a. Should-a. Could-a.

Those are the words we use when we imagine a different past. We’re often advised not to use them—neither out loud or when we talk to ourselves. And when we do, we get reminded that we would-a, could-a, should-a said something different.

Sounds exhausting. It’s terribly hard to refrain from thinking certain thoughts. Because you have to think them to remind yourself not to think them.

Today in your writing, let ‘em rip. Open the gates and let them in. There will be a few other requirements, too, but first, set up your page while you allow yourself to imagine some of the things you wish were different about the past.

Draw a line at the top of the page where you can put a title when you finish writing. If you want to set aside a space for doodles and illustration, do that next. Then draw lines to divide the remaining space on the page into four roughly equal parts.

Write the words Would-aShould-a, and Could-a as headings at the top of three of those spaces. Leave the fourth one blank, at least for now.

In each of the spaces, write about something that would-a, should-a, could-a been different. Maybe about something that you did or didn’t do. Maybe about the actions of someone else. Perhaps one event will fit in the small space, or maybe more than one.

Each time you tell a little Would-aShould-a, or Could-a story, add the words, “But, oh well, …” and write at least one more sentence that places the event(s) in the past and says something about the present.

You might say something about how you survived, what you learned, or what doors wouldn’t have opened without the events you (sort of) regret. Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe you had fun, or it worked out well for someone else. Maybe it was the best way to learn what not to do the next time.

When you have filled the three spaces with Would-aShould-a, Could-a stories, write anything you would like in the fourth space. Maybe some more Would-aShould-a, or Could-a stories, or some comments about what you wrote, or what you thought about writing it.

When the page is full, look it over carefully 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.

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.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help or encouragement 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.