Small, Medium, Large

by Nancy Casey

Gather your writing stuff. Gather your thoughts. Park yourself in the present.

Notice what your senses are taking in. Notice internal things, too, like body sensations and emotions. Memories and ideas in your mind right now are also part of the present.

Randomly explore the present while you set up your page.

Draw a line across the top of your page where the title will go. Then divide the page into four equal-sized sections. Label three of those sections Small, Medium, and Large.

Keep dwelling on the present and ask yourself, What’s small? What’s medium? What’s large?  Make a list inside each section.

There are several ways to approach this. You could begin by noting something small, and then asking yourself, What’s bigger than that? Or start with something large, and ask yourself what’s smaller. Or start in the middle, choose something, and ask, What’s bigger? What’s smaller?

Another way to approach this exercise is to fill one section at a time. Write down all the small things you notice, then the medium-sized ones, and finally the large ones. Or start with the large ones. Or the medium ones.

Maybe you will start with one approach and then switch to another. You might even invent an approach of your own. The important thing is to fill each of the sections according to their labels: Small, Medium, and Large.

When you don’t know what to write, look for ideas in the present tense.

There will be one section left. From all the items on the three lists you have written, pick one thing that is important. It doesn’t have to be the most important thing. There are probably quite a few things on your lists that matter to you. Pick one of them and write a little bit about it in the fourth section.

Draw or doodle on the page if you feel like it. A bit of color adds a lot!

When you have filled the page, go back over your work. Make small changes if you want to.

Wait for a title to pop into your mind. When it does, write it on the line at the top of the page. Write the date 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. It’s not possible at this time to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center. If you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancyor the Latah Recovery Center.

 

In One Place

by Nancy Casey

Today’s page will require a little bit of setup. As you gather your materials and sit down to write, take some slow breaths and imagine your mind settling into an empty space. For the 20 minutes or so that it will take you to write, you don’t have to think about anything important. All that stuff will be ready and waiting for you when you are done.

Draw a line across the top of a clean page where the title will go. Underneath it, draw a vertical line down the center of the page. Then draw a horizontal line across the middle.  Now your writing space is divided into four equal spaces.

In tiny letters, write the word Plant in the corner of one of the spaces. Write the word Animal in the corner of a different space. Label the other two with the words Thing and Place.

Forget about Place until the end.

In the Animal space, write about an animal. Any animal, real or imaginary, past or present, monstrous or microscopic. Whatever animal pops into your mind first. Draw a picture to go with it if you like.

Similarly, write about a plant in the Plant space. Any plant.

Obviously, in the Thing space, you’ll write about a thing. Some inanimate object. Some thing.

Draw in those spaces and decorate the borders if you like. Doodle while you are thinking up what to write.

When those three spaces are full, turn your attention to the Place space. Imagine the animal, the plant, and the thing you have written about and build an imaginary fence that encloses them all. Describe that place.

Maybe your plant, animal and thing are all in the room right in front of you. Then that’s the place you would describe.

What if your plant was outside your window and your thing was the planet Mars? Then maybe your place would be the solar system. Or even the universe.

It’s also possible that you could decide that the place that holds your plant, animal, and thing isn’t a physical place someone could visit. It could be a place like your childhood or your imagination.

You might be tempted to do this backwards, to think of a place and then describe a plant, an animal and a thing that are in it. But, trust me, you will write something more interesting if you don’t think about place until the end.

When you have finished your page, go back over everything you have done. Make additions and changes if you like.

Give your work 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. Since it’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center, if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

 

At Three

by Nancy Casey

What do you do? Even though that’s a question that many people ask, lots of folks find it too big to give an answer that feels satisfactory.

What do you do all day? That question is smaller, but it can still be hard to answer.

What do you do at 3 o’clock? That question is whittled down to an answerable size.

Take a moment to consider the ebbs and cycles of your waking day. Try to get a sense of the whole day all at once as something that unfolds from start to finish. Then zero in on that more-or-less 3 o’clock time. What’s going on then?

It depends.  On who you are, the schedule you tend to keep, the responsibilities you have, and your typical flows of energy and emotion. It also depends on whether the “3 o’clock” of your waking day is 3 AM or 3 PM.

It could also depend on how similar your days are. Work days differ from days off. Travel days are different from days at home.

Days might differ socially, too. Some days might or might not have children in them, or certain friends and co-workers. Maybe you have a standing appointment on a certain day at 3 o’clock.

If all of your days tend to be different, pick out a certain type of day, and picture yourself around 3 o’clock. If all of your days unfold more or less alike, zoom in on what is usually going on at three.

Think about your responsibilities and activities. Where could someone find you at 3 o’clock?

Consider the way your energy changes in the day. Where does it land around three? What about your attitude?

Is there something reliable about the natural world that occurs during the 3 o’clock hour?

Fill a page with information about yourself at 3 o’clock. Include color, drawing, doodling and decoration as you find appropriate.

When the page is full, take a good look at it, and make small changes if you like. Give your work 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. Since it’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center, if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

 

How Do You Beat the Heat?

by Nancy Casey

It depends on what heats you up.

Some people don’t notice it’s getting warm until they’ve been seared by the sun for hours. Others prefer the temperatures you might find in a cave.

Weather conditions aren’t the only thing that can make a person hot. Some people have jobs near machinery that gives off heat. Other folks have physical conditions that send their temperatures up. Sometimes it’s a lack of ventilation that makes it hard to stay cool. Or large pets who want to be on your lap.

Warmth in your body isn’t the only way to feel heat. (After all, some people can’t ever get warm enough.)

Certain emotions and mental states can make us run hot: anger, anxiety, worry. Can hunger make you too hot? Thirst probably can. What about joy?

Today for your writing, think about what has a tendency to heat you up and write about what you do to prevent yourself from overheating. Maybe you will write about keeping your physical body comfortable. Maybe you will write about your favorite strategies for remaining mentally and emotionally cool.

Begin by drawing a line across the top of your page where the title will go. Draw and doodle a little bit on the page. As you do this, your writing ideas will start to gather themselves. Start writing about the first idea that comes clearly into your mind, even if it’s not the idea you thought you would be writing about at first.

Go back and forth between writing and drawing if you like. The important thing is to fill the page somehow with ideas about staying cool when things could get too hot.

Be sure to give your work 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. Since it’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center, if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

 

Oh the Difficulties!

by Nancy Casey

Your mission today will be to write about a difficult relationship you have with a non-living thing.

Our lives are filled with more-or-less immovable objects that we wish weren’t there. See which ones pop into your mind as you gather your materials and set up your page. Draw a line at the top of the page where a title will go, and mark off some space on the page where you can doodle or draw.

We can have unpleasant relationships with physical things in our environment, such as a dangerous lump in the sidewalk, or a piece of uncomfortable furniture.

We are often challenged by mechanical objects. Maybe you have something like a washing machine, a bicycle, or a door lock that behaves unpredictably and causes emotional strain.

Technology frustrates a lot of people. Is there a type of technology that others seem to use freely and happily while you get stuck at every turn?

Maybe you just don’t get along very well with the weather. Or the smell of frying onions. Bright lights, certain color combinations, a type of music…

When you are challenged by something that can’t talk or think or hear, you are the one doing all the work in the relationship.

Think about a thing that you struggle to get along with and write about that relationship.

You can explain what the relationship is like, how it started, why it doesn’t end, and the work you do to get along. Or instead you could write yourself a pep talk for how you will approach your next interaction in this relationship. Maybe you’ll want to describe all the different ways this relationship has changed over time, or explain why you have this relationship even though it gives you so much trouble.

If you can’t think of what to write about, doodle or draw until an idea comes to you.

Once the page is full, go back over your work and make small changes if you would like. Continue to add color or illustration if you want to.

Be sure to give your work 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 occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center and offers free online writing coaching for people in recovery. For information contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

 

 

New Season Ahead!

by Nancy Casey

We have just finished a string of cold, wet, overcast days. The coming forecast promises blue skies and sunshine. It’s going to get hot. Gradually, we’re entering a new season.

Does it feel like the beginning of summer to you? What comes into your mind when you imagine the summer ahead?

As you set up your page, let your mind ramble on the idea of the summer season which stretches before you.

Summer isn’t just about weather. Summer clothes and summer shoes might pop into your mind. Or hair styles. Chores and activities. Fantasy plans. Foods and allergies. People. How one summer can be different from another. What you are and aren’t looking forward to.

Draw a line at the top where the title will go, and mark off some space that you can use for doodling and illustration. At the very bottom of the page, draw a rectangle that’s about an inch high and as wide as the page.

Write about the summer that is stretching ahead. You could write sentences that begin with, “I hope…” or “I’ll wear…” or “On Wednesdays…” Write whatever comes to your mind from thinking about the coming summer.

When your mind goes blank for writing, draw or doodle in the illustration space. Go back to writing whenever a thought you could write down pops into your mind. Go back and forth with writing and illustration until the page is full. But leave the rectangle at the bottom completely empty.

When you are satisfied with all of the drawing and writing on the page, direct your attention to the blank rectangle. That’s the space reserved for the unexpected. Because something unexpected always happens. All sorts of things that you can’t predict are going to present themselves to you this summer.

Decorate all around the edge of the rectangle somehow. As you do so, remind yourself that for better or for worse, along with everything you are pretty sure will happen, things you didn’t expect will also pop into your life over the summer.

When you have finished decorating all around the edges of the rectangle, you’ll probably be about as ready for the unexpected as you can get.

Be sure to give your work 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 occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center and offers free online writing coaching for people in recovery. For information contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

A Letter from the Grand Hotel

by Nancy Casey

Today, your writing will take the form of a letter. You can write it to a real or imaginary person, and you don’t have to mail it.

Pretend that you have just arrived at a Grand Hotel, a splendid vacation spot with marvelous amenities and superb convenience. Write a letter telling your friend how amazing, wonderful and perfect everything is.

Here’s the catch: all the details of the letter have to be details about your very own home and surroundings.

You can tell about the services, the entertainment, and the furnishings. You can tell what makes it comfortable and pleasant. In the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, you can describe challenges or discomforts in terms of the outstanding opportunities for growth that they present to you.

You can say anything you want, as long as it is positive to the point of bragging and describes something real and factual about your home and surroundings.

Begin to set up your page by drawing a large rectangle that makes the page have a frame around it that’s about an inch wide. The frame will be your drawing space. Your title will go in the frame, too. At the very top of the page, draw a long rectangle inside the frame that the title will fit into when it comes time to write it.

Write the date at the top of the writing space like you would for a letter, and begin with “Dear So-and-So”… using a person’s real name.

If ideas for bragging up your living space come to mind right away, begin writing. Every time you have to stop and think, don’t stop your pen from moving, just move over to the drawing space and begin decorating the frame. When you get another idea for writing, move over to the writing area and continue there.

Try not to ever pause completely. Always keep your pen moving in one part of the page or another. Either decorate the frame, or add to the letter. Can you do it? Sometimes it takes practice and concentration at first, but the reward is usually a deep calming inside your mind.

As you get down to the end of the writing part of the page, sign off the way you do when you write a letter. Read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. If you haven’t yet finished decorating the page’s frame, keep working on that until you are completely satisfied with the whole page.

When a title pops into your mind, write it down in the rectangle you have saved for it.

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

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 occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center and offers free online writing coaching for people in recovery. For information contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center

Listen!

by Nancy Casey

One thing everybody knows how to do is react. Sometimes we choose our reaction, and other times the reaction chooses us. Often the reaction is external—we say or do something. If the reaction is internal, we change ourselves psychologically.

What kind of a reaction is listening? You will explore that in your writing today by practicing listening and noticing what that is like.

Set up your page first. Draw a line at the top where the title will go. Then set aside a small space for writing. Draw a shape (a box, a circle, a blob) that’s only big enough to fit a sentence or two. The whole rest of the page is your drawing space.

Without saying anything, draw in your drawing space until it is filled up. If you draw without talking, you are listening.

What can you put in the background for yourself to hear? Some ideas:

  • A recorded voice that is talking (or perhaps singing.) Such as a podcast, the news, a comedian, an audiobook, a playlist.
  • A friend who wants to share some thoughts. Make sure your friend understands the exercise you are doing. You can also trade places and do the exercise again so that you are the talker and your friend is the listener.
  • Instrumental music, the world outdoors, the non-silence of a silent room. As you do this type of listening, you might also begin to hear the sounds of your own thoughts.

The important thing about the drawing part is to keep your hand moving. It doesn’t matter what the drawing looks like because it is a picture of your listening.

Maybe you enjoy drawing and will dive into this task with delight. If filling a page with drawing feels daunting to you, here are some ideas:

  • Color the whole page one solid color. That counts.  Watch the color grow.  You’ll be listening.
  • Copy or trace a picture. Color it if you want. Make the same picture over and over again.
  • Scribble and doodle. Make dots, circles, or spirals. See how close you can draw lines next to each other without touching.
  • Try one thing, then move to another spot on the page and try something else.

Don’t evaluate your drawing as a drawing. Just draw. Keep the pen, crayon, pencil (or whatever is in your hand) moving. Who knows, you might decide to fingerpaint!

When you have completely filled the drawing space (and not before!) write down one thought in the writing space. Whatever thought comes to mind at the end of your drawing/listening session. Don’t plan it. Don’t overanalyze it. You don’t have to report on what you “heard.” Just write something down. It’s merely a thought that arose out of your listening.

When you have finished, take a good look at the whole page. Notice how big the listening part is compared to the words you wrote. Is there anything interesting about that?  Some people listen better (hear more) when they doodle.  Are you one of them?

If you practice listening, you learn about what it is like to listen to yourself, others and the world around you. And you can choose it as a reaction to any situation.

Don’t forget to give your work a title and write the date on it, too.

Here is one example of what someone’s page could look like. But everybody’s page will be different.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. It’s probably best to comment with a photo that shows all your work.  You could also simply type in the short text that you wrote.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. She occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center and offers free online writing coaching for people in recovery. For information  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

What It’s Not

by Nancy Casey

We can discover new ways to understand something if we direct our attention to what it isn’t. That’s what you’ll do in your writing today.

As you gather up your writing materials and set up your page, decide what you will write about. It can be anything at all. Not a whole wide story, just a thing.

You can choose an object. Something from your immediate surroundings–in the room or out a window. You can pluck the object from your imagination. It could be something you remember or something you invent. It doesn’t necessarily have to be real.

Instead of an object, you could write about an action or activity.  Dancing, talking on the phone, attending a meeting online, or something like that.

You can decide to write about a concept, such as joy, memory, or hope.

Once you have decided what to write about, begin by telling about what it isn’t.

For instance, a person could decide to write about “breakfast.” They could write down, “Breakfast is not made of rocks.” Or “Breakfast is not something to enjoy while you are asleep.” They could say, “Breakfast does not chirp, sing, yell for help.” Someone could add, “Breakfast doesn’t care if it has a broken tail light.”

Be patient with yourself as the ideas flow in. When you hold something in your mind and cast about for details of what it isn’t, you are juggling two thoughts at once. It can take a few minutes for your mind to coordinate itself to work like that.

If you have trouble getting started, begin by drawing or doodling.

Once you get going and find your groove, you’ll start to notice that the possibilities for what something isn’t are as big and wide as the whole universe. As you fill the page you might surprise yourself. You will certainly notice how clever you are.

After you the page is filled up, read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add additional color or decoration if you like. When you are satisfied with your work, 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 occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center and offers free online writing coaching for people in recovery. For information  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Temporary and Permanent

by Nancy Casey

What’s temporary in your life? What is likely to be permanent? That’s what you’ll be exploring today in your writing. Open your mind to those questions while you gather your materials and set up your page.

Draw a line where the title will go. Then draw a shape in the middle of the page. A circle, a square, a blob—any kind of shape. This will be your drawing space, so make it as large or as small as you like.

Next draw two lines out from the shape to the edge of the paper so that the writing space is roughly divided in half.

On one side of the page, write about some things that are likely to change in your lifetime. What changes many times over the course of a day? What changes slowly over a lifetime? Sometimes changes are traumatic, and sometimes they bring relief. Consider your life and your world the way it is right now and ask yourself, “What’s not going to stay that way?”

You can write about one changing aspect of your life in detail, explaining how it will change and why you know that is true. Or your writing might look more like a list.

On the opposite side, you will write about things that you would consider to be permanent in your life. Of course you can argue that nothing is ever permanent. Life is full of miracles and surprises a person can never predict. All the same, there are things that we realistically expect to remain unchanged in our lifetimes. The past, for instance.

As ideas come to mind, you can switch back and forth from the “temporary” side of the page to the “permanent” side. While you wait for ideas to come to you, doodle or draw in the illustration space in the middle.

After you have filled a page, read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add additional color or decoration to the page. When you are satisfied with your work, 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 occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center.  She offers free writing coaching for people in recovery. For information contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.