Write for You: What Did You Expect?

by Nancy Casey (PlanetNancy.net)

When we are hurt, whether by people or events, it is often very difficult to explain what happened. It can be even more difficult to communicate how much it hurt and why. When we try to tell someone about it and they don’t understand, we can be re-traumatized, making everything worse.
There are many reasons for this. One has to do with the fact that there is no Big List in the sky that identifies every crummy thing that can happen to a person and tells why it should hurt and how much.
Everyone is different. Often the pain of an interaction or an event is compounded by the fact that we know it never should have happened. We endure what occurs. We try to heal. But underneath it all, some part of our idea of how the world works has been shattered. This is very difficult to analyze and repair.
Today in your writing practice, write about being hurt. You can write about a single incident or several different ones. But don’t write about what happened, write about what you had expected would happen.
For instance, if you were crossing the street and the light said, “Walk” and then a car came screaming around the corner and hit you, don’t write the story of the accident. Simply write what you had expected at that time. Perhaps you would say, “I expected to be safe in the crosswalk when the light was green.”
If somebody said something terribly mean to you, instead of telling what they said and why it was so mean, perhaps you would write, “I expected to be spoken to with respect.”
Unfortunately, our worldview can become so bruised by the things that have hurt us that we expect bad things to happen. You might find yourself writing things like, “I expected to fail that class.” Or, “I expected to be hit.” If that’s what you expected, write it down.
Write a page like that. Begin every line with, “I expected…” Date the page and give it a title. Then take a second page and write down what you notice about your expectations. Put the date and a title on that page, too.
You can find an example of what you could write here: PlanetNancy.net/writing-prompts/your-expectations

Nancy Casey (PlanetNancy.net) has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. If you have a writing project you would like help with, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

 

Write for You: Freewriting

by Nancy Casey

Sometimes when you sit down to write, your mind is full of the things you could put down on the page. Then you pick up the pen and your mind becomes suddenly blank. Nothing that you were thinking seems important anymore.

Sometimes you know what you want to say, but the ideas roil so uncontrollably in your mind that it’s impossible to start.

Other times, your mind feels truly blank. Maybe your whole self feels blank. The pen weighs 400 pounds. The empty page is wide and desolate as the Sahara. It doesn’t seem possible for an idea to form.

Regardless of what makes you feel stuck, freewriting can get you un-stuck.

When you freewrite you write anything at all. Anything. Throw all of the rules out of the window. Spell the way you want. Forget grammar. Don’t expect to “make sense.” Just write stuff, whatever bubbles to the surface of your mind. It could be a string of unrelated words. It might be phrases or sentences. Maybe there will be capital letters and punctuation and maybe there won’t.

Today in your writing practice, fill a page with freewriting.

Some people find this very difficult. It’s hard to chuck out all the restrictions that come with years of training in “correct” writing. You can feel a strong resistance to writing down anything that’s not meaningful. If that’s how you feel, here are some “directions” to get you started.

Begin with individual words. Just words. Whatever pops into your mind. Write them down next to each other, one after the other without thinking of any connection they might have to one another. If “bubblegum” is followed by “lizards” and “traffic jam,” that’s just fine. If “bubblegum” is followed by “bubblegum” is followed by “bubblegum,” that’s okay, too. Fill up about a third of the page with single words.

As you move into the next third of the page, write phrases, a couple of words at a time. “phone on the desk” or “mosqitoes in evening gowns” or “throwing up lunch.” It doesn’t matter. Just phrases. You can put commas or dashes or slashes between them. Or not. Keep your hand loose. If it starts to feel tired or cramped, make it looser and write more slowly. It’s not a contest.

By the time you get to the final third of the page, your mind is likely to have relaxed quite a bit. The blockages between your mind and your hand dissolve.

When the freewriting begins to flow nicely, you will settle into an easy pace. New words and phrases arrive in your mind at exactly the rate you can write them down. The tensions that come with trying to write correctly fade. The freewriting has become free.

When you are finished, read it over. Notice the journey you have taken. It will make some kind of odd sense to you, but not necessarily to someone else. (When you read it tomorrow, it might not make sense to you anymore, but that’s okay.) There might be parts that you really like. It might all seem like nonsense, but that’s not a problem because the important part is the simple experience of having done it.

Be sure to date your writing. Give it a title by writing whatever comes to mind as your hand hovers over the spot where the title goes. Here is an example of what your writing could look like, except that yours will be original, something only you can do.

Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. If you have a writing project you would like help with, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

 

Write for You: In Praise of Your Surroundings

by Nancy Casey

Everybody’s got to be somewhere. It’s part of the definition of being alive. Where are you?

We all live in the cocoon of our surroundings. What’s under you? A bed, a chair, your shoes? The floor, the ground, the molten core of the earth? What’s around you? A room, music, the weather?

Today, take in your surroundings. Notice what is big and vast, such as thunder and the stars. Notice the tiny things, such as pollen and the mortar the holds together the bricks in the buildings of your town. Don’t stop with what you see. Notice what you can smell and touch and taste and hear.

Notice it all, and sing its praises.

How do you sing praises? The important thing is to go on and on, lavishing happy words, slathering them recklessly about. Thinking up one thing after another which is marvelous about that which you are praising.

When you sing praise, you talk to the object of your admiration, not about it. You must cheer the plants for how brave they are, not simply observe that they are struggling valiantly in the cold. You must thank the bag of cat food for all the kitty-nutrition, rather than merely list the ingredients on the back. You must talk to the dishtowel like you are giving it an award.

Use the special vocabulary of praise. Try out old-fashioned formal-sounding phrases such as, “Oh ye who…” or “I hereby express my deepest esteem…” You could try writing like you are giving a speech, or borrow the language you hear in church. You can say, “Hooray!” You can say, “Look at you!” You can say, “Hallelujah!”

What can you praise something for? For being present in your world. For the greenness of its green or the blueness of its blue. For the generous service it renders or the wonderful way it tastes. For protecting you. For making the world around you interesting and beautiful. For making you interesting and beautiful.

Praise what amuses you. Praise what teaches you. Praise what inspires you. Up, down, side, back and all around, praise what surrounds you.

When you have finished your song of praise, give it a title and write the date on it as well. Here is an example of what you might write.

 

Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. If you have a writing project you would like help with, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

 

 

Write for You: Get the Picture?

by Nancy Casey

Today you will need at least two sheets of paper: one for drawing and one for writing. The one that you use for drawing should be completely blank, with no lines on it.

Then pick something in front of you and draw it on the blank page. It can be anything at all, as long as it’s right there where you can see it and isn’t going to be moving around.

If you are part of that big chunk of the population who “can’t draw,” that’s okay. Just draw something anyway. Look at the thing. Make some marks. Look again. Make more marks. That’s what drawing is: looking at something and making the marks it inspires on a page. You don’t even have to look at the marks while you are making them!

Use ink or pencil to draw with, anything you like. Don’t get carried away with erasing. Don’t cross stuff out or scribble over it out of frustration. Just do your best to draw what you see and leave it at that.

When you have finished, locate some empty space on the page and draw the same thing again. You might want to rotate the page a little bit. Maybe you will decide to only draw one small part of the thing. Or maybe you did that last time, and now you are going to draw the whole thing. Just draw it somehow.

When you are finished, draw it again. And again, and again. Until the page is all filled up.

It might look messy. It might look goofy. But some parts of it will really please you. Guaranteed. Whether you “know how” to draw or not.

Many people say that when they draw something, a calmness comes over them after about 5 or 10 minutes. They stop caring how the drawing is going to “come out” and just enjoy what they are doing. Did that happen to you? What was your experience like?

Jot down some notes about your drawing experience on the second page. Tell what the experience felt like, and what your attitude was like as you did the work. If your mind wandered away to other things, write about those things.

Write a little bit about the object you drew. Tell why you picked it and the role it plays in your life. Did you notice things about it that you hadn’t noticed before?

Keep drawing things. Fill up pages with drawings instead of writing. Experiment with drawing something that you remember instead of something right in front of you. Or simply doodle. Is the experience the same for each kind of drawing?

Whatever you draw, or write, or doodle, be sure to put the date and a title on your pages. Here is an example of what a person could do.

 

Nancy Casey teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center on Thursdays. Check the calendar for classes and times, or just drop in. All are welcome. She coordinates Recovery Radio, which airs on KRFP 90.3 FM in Moscow, Thursdays at 1:05 PM. Recovery Radio needs on-air and off-air volunteers. Call the Recovery Center 208-883-1045 or email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

 

Write for You: Change of Season

by Nancy Casey

I’m writing this on a chilly, gray day. It’s pouring rain outside. That’s interesting, almost thrilling, because it’s been blisteringly hot here and it hasn’t rained like this for months. It’s the kind of day you can’t help but think about the changing season.

The season changes without any input from us. It never comes as much of a surprise. You can like it or not like it, but you can’t encourage it to arrive faster or tell it to wait. Ready or not. A new season. It’s yours.

To write about a changing season, have at least 2 pages handy. On one of them, draw a line lengthwise down the middle, and then draw another line across the middle of the page so that the page is divided into four boxes.

The left side of the page will be for the season that is coming on, and the right side of the page will be for the season that is giving way.

In the upper left box, write down all the things that you look forward to in the coming season.
To the right, in the upper right box, write down all the things that you will miss about the season that is almost gone.
Down in the lower left box, write down what you dread about the season to come.
In the remaining box, on the lower right, write down things that you are glad to see go away with the old season.

Fill up all the space on the page. Add illustrations as needed.

On the second page, write about a changing season makes you think of. What marks the change most for you? How are the changes about more than the weather? How do the changes affect your attitude?

Some people talk about life in terms of seasons, such as childhood, youth, and middle age. Careers and relationships can have seasons, too. There is a lot to say about seasons: how they change from one to the next, what we notice, and how it affects us.

Whatever you write, give both pages a title, and write the date on them, too. Here is an example of what a person could write.

Nancy Casey teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center on Thursdays. Check the calendar for classes and times, or just drop in. All are welcome. She coordinates Recovery Radio, which airs on KRFP 90.3 FM in Moscow, Thursdays at 1:05 PM. Recovery Radio needs on-air and off-air volunteers. Call the Recovery Center 208-883-1045 or email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

 

Write for You: I Forgot

by Nancy Casey

Nobody remembers everything.

Today you will write down some of the many things you have forgotten. As you write about them, one by one, begin each one with “I forgot…”

Sometimes we forget things momentarily, like somebody’s name or that there is road construction on your usual route about town. Everybody probably wishes they didn’t forget things in that infuriating way, where you find yourself upstairs, not knowing what you came up there for, but sure enough, you remember as soon as you go back downstairs, so then you have to go up again. What information has escaped unexpectedly from your mind lately?

Some things are probably forgotten for good, like the names of every single one of your parents’ friends and the type of coat they wore in the winter time. Everybody has memories of past events, both desirable and undesirable, that are unforgettably vivid. Even so, there will be things you must have known at the time, though they are lost and forgotten, now. The color of somebody’s shoes, perhaps, or whether your fingernails were clean or dirty that day. Was it sunny out or cloudy. What did you once know that you certain you will never remember?

Sometimes temporary forgetting can lead to permanent remembering. Do you have an odd fact stuck in your brain forever because you forgot it on the day of a test?

Songs have a tendency to sing themselves over and over in our heads. Sometimes we wish we could forget them! But is it the whole song that rings again and again, or just a line or two? You’ve certainly heard the whole song before. What parts must you make an effort to remember?

Occasionally, forgetting can bring on a cascade of problems. If you forget your wallet, for instance, or a very important password. It’s bad news when you forget to bring your library books in out of the rain. It can be even worse news if you forget you left a laundry basket in the middle of the floor and you trip on it in the dark. What have you forgotten that has changed your life?

Do you remember everything that’s in your refrigerator, and exactly where each item is located? Could you have forgotten about some of the things that are in your closet? What about your license plate number or the number on line 37 of your taxes in 2009?

We forget so many things. And remember a lot of them again later. Only to forget them again. All the while new things keep happening, which we either remember or forget. Have you ever forgotten anything on purpose?
Write about what you have forgotten, beginning each time with the phrase, “I forgot…” Here is an example of what you might write. Give your work a title when you are finished, and write the date on it, too.

Nancy Casey teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center on Thursdays. Check the calendar for classes and times, or just drop in. All are welcome. She coordinates Recovery Radio, which airs on KRFP 90.3 FM in Moscow, Thursdays at 1:05 PM. Recovery Radio needs on-air and off-air volunteers. Call the Recovery Center 208-883-1045 or email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: Pep Talk Voice

Write for You:  Pep Talk Voice

by Nancy CaseA good pep talk puts the wind in your sails.  Pep talks get you and the big boat of your life aimed in the best direction for smooth travel.  Without pep talks you could be led to believe your ship might sink, or that it could be becalmed forever.  With a good pep talk behind you, you keep moving forward.

We talk to ourselves in many voices, and for a good pep talk, all you have to do is give the stage to Pep Talk Voice.

Pep Talk Voice is the most stubborn and single-minded voice in the choir.  It is incapable of saying anything bad about you. 

 If you start describing your life to yourself in terms of its failures, Pep Talk Voice gets all pumped up with applause, saying, “Look what you were up against!  Did you see that!? You’ve come through this far! We can do anything now!”

 If the tasks ahead of you in the next day, year or hour seem beyond your abilities, Pep Talk Voice says, “So what?  You’re doing everything that’s humanly possible.   Why wouldn’t that be enough?  There’s a path through this.”

 If you are tempted to carry on about all your faults of character, Pep Talk Voice just laughs.  “You expect me to believe that???”  Pep Talk Voice never doubts your worth.  “You are a fine person,” says Pep Talk Voice, stating the obvious.  “You are a fine person and you are doing your best. Here’s why…”

 Even when you are considering the things that you’d like to change about yourself, Pep Talk Voice will still find a way to say that you are just fine the way you are.  “Doing a few things differently will make you even more like yourself!” crows Pep Talk Voice, reminding you yet again how amazing you are.

 Today in your writing, give your pen over to Pep Talk Voice.  Just see how it goes. 

 Maybe your writing will come out as a dialog, where you say something and Pep Talk Voice adds what it thinks.

 You could try interviewing Pep Talk Voice. Ask it questions. 

 You can even tease Pep Talk Voice and try to get it to say something bad about you—but it won’t.  It can’t.  It doesn’t know how.

 Maybe Pep Talk Voice has a speech it’s been dying to give you.  Give it a chance.  Write down what it has to say.  Pretend you are taking dictation.

As you write down the things that Pep Talk Voice has to say to you, think about what “pep” is.  When you are peppy, you are alive with life.  You have vim, vigor, and vitality.  “Pep” isn’t something that you can wear or buy, it bubbles up from inside of you like the force of life itself.

 Pep Talk Voice is the voice of the one who knows you best of all.

 Put the date on your writing and be sure to give it a title.  Here’s an example of what you could write.

 

Nancy Casey teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center on Thursdays.  Check the calendar for classes and times, or just drop in.  All are welcome.  She coordinates Recovery Radio, which airs on KRFP 90.3 FM in Moscow, Thursdays at 1:05 PM. Recovery Radio needs on-air and off-air volunteers.  Call the Recovery Center  208-883-1045 or email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.