Heart of the Matter

by Nancy Casey

Begin by writing a word or a phrase in the center of your page. Any word. It can be an idea that you have been thinking about, something from your surroundings, or simply the first thing that pops into your mind.

Draw a heart around it.

From the heart draw a spiral, a long circular line that goes round and round until it reaches the edge of the page. You will be writing on this line. Knowing that will help you gauge how far apart the lines should be from each other as they circle round and round. As you get close to the top of the page, don’t let the line go all the way to the edge. Leave some space where you can put a title when you have finished writing.

Starting at the center of the spiral and starting with the word or phrase in the heart, write one long sentence that fills up the whole long line of the spiral, all the way out to the end. It will be a long and convoluted sentence, but that’s okay.

To keep your sentence stretching longer and longer, use connector words like because, unless, which, until, whenever, although, nevertheless, however, and so forth. Keep adding to your sentence until you run out of space to write on. You will probably have to spin the page round and round as you write. Don’t go back and read what you have written until you get to the very end.

When you have run out of room to write, bring your sentence to a close and then return to the beginning and read it. Make small changes if you would like to. Add color or decoration, too, if you think your page needs it.

In some ways, your overly-long sentence will seem strange and disconnected. Did it turn out to be “about” anything in any way? Is the phrase inside the heart really “the heart of the matter?” You are the only one who really knows.

See if you can make up a title that connects everything together somehow. Put your initials and the date on the finished page.

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 taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Right Before

by Nancy Casey

Today, like every day, is a good day to celebrate all the things you have done right.

A good way to do that is with an exercise called Before That where you start in the present tense and then work your way backwards through time, starting every new thought with “Before that…”

While you set up your page, think about all the things that you do or have done right. When you do something right, it doesn’t need your attention anymore and it’s easy to forget about it.

Let your mind wander around to your many areas of competence while you draw a line across the top of the page where your title will go. Set aside a space for doodling or illustration if that seems right to you. Keep thinking about the different kinds of things you do right.

Think of all the things you know how to do. The things you have fixed. Things you have kept from breaking, freezing, getting wet or drying out. People or pets who would have starved without you.

Every time you do something good for yourself, you are doing something right, so don’t skip over any of those. Remind yourself of all the things your body does right without your needing to pay attention: breathing, digesting, dreaming…

When you try to do something and it doesn’t work out the way you planned, you might not like it, but you still did a lot of things right.  Trying, for instance. And learning.

When you try something new and the whole enterprise is successful, you have clearly done all kinds of things right.  Has that ever happened to you? What did you do right before that?

Start with right now. You are doing your own writing.  You can’t possibly do it wrong. Describe yourself writing and how you are doing it right. Then write the words “Before that …” and continue on describing something you did right before you started writing. At the end of that thought, write “Before that…” and soon you will remember something you did right earlier.

Keep going down the page that way, using the words “Before that …” to start each new thought, skipping backwards in time from one thing you did right to the next.

When the page is full, read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. When you are satisfied with the page, give it a title and write the date on it, too.

The page will be just one more thing you did right.

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 taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Easy Go

by Nancy Casey

Letting go can be really hard. It can also be really easy. Today you will write about some of your experiences where letting go was really easy.

Set up your page, leaving space for a title and some illustration. You can draw or doodle in the illustration space while you think about what to write, or fill it up somehow later.

The literal, physical idea of letting go means that you had something in your hand, but it’s not there anymore. Maybe you dropped it, or put it away. You might have thrown it as part of a game, or handed it to someone else. You pick something up. When you put it down somewhere else, you’ve let go.

Trouble is, if you let go of something easily, it’s likely you don’t even remember it! That can make it hard to come up with things to write down.

One way to jog your memory of what you have let go of easily, think about objects you have picked up or held in your hand—today, this week, this year, in your life. Which ones were easy to let go of? Are they the ones you hardly remember handling?

A person lets go of a plate after they put it back on the shelf. We let go of objects when we drop them into purses or pockets. A lot of people let go of stuff the instant they walk into their homes—satchels, packs, bags of groceries. Keys, mail, hats and gloves.

Not all objects are easy to let go of, but a lot of them are.

When we forget something, we have let go of a thought or an idea. If you read something and don’t remember it later, that’s a sign that whatever you read was easy for you to let go of. If you forget to run an errand, you must have let go of its importance with no effort at all.

Today, write about occasions when letting go is so effortless you hardly know you do it. Write sentences that start out, “It’s easy to let go of…” or “It didn’t take any effort to let go of…” You can add more information with phrases that begin with “when”  or “because.”  Explain anything that you would like about the ease of letting go.

When the page is full, go back over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. When you are satisfied with the page, 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 taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Community Center.

Winter Confidence

by Nancy Casey

After a couple of months of winter, it becomes apparent that there are quite a few things you are good at.

People who enjoy the snow and the cold often become good at sporty and fun activities, such as skiing and sledding or making snow people. Some of them are even good at laughing when they fall down and get snow down their backs.

You don’t have to love the winter conditions to be good at dealing with them, though. Shoveling snow, walking on ice, thawing frozen pipes, scraping off a car, and dressing for the cold aren’t known for their universal appeal. Many people are annoyed and inconvenienced by activities like these. At the very same time you can still be good at them.

Today, write about your winter skills. Think about the tasks and activities that winter brings into your life. Set aside all judgements about whether you like them or not and ask yourself which ones you approach with confidence.

With that question in mind, set up your page. As always, begin with a line at the top that will reserve a spot for your title. Then draw some kind of random shape in the middle of the page. Next draw some lines or curves that radiate out from that shape and reach the edge of the paper. Now your writing space is divided up into sections.

In each section, write something that begins, “It’s winter and I am good at…” Then tell something about one of your winter skills. As much as you can fit into that section. Then move on to another section and another skill.

You can always use one or more of the sections as a drawing or doodling space if you feel like it.

When all the sections are full, go back over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. When you are satisfied with the page, 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 taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.