Write for You: Make Something!

by Nancy Casey

Before you write today, spend about 20 minutes making something. Then write about making it.

What should you make? Anything, of course.

You can use any tools or materials that you want. You can pile up random things and call it a sculpture. You can fix something or make someone a present. You can make something frivolous or practical. Just set a timer for 20 minutes and get going. If you work longer than 20 minutes, that’s great. Make sure to set aside enough time so that you can write a page about what you did.

Maybe you already have some kind of a project going, something you are already making. Go work on it for a while, and write about what you did.

Perhaps you are too busy right now to go make something, or maybe you don’t consider yourself the “making” type. No worries, people make all kinds of things during the course of a normal day. People make their beds and their lunches. They make piles of dishes and laundry, clean and dirty. People make order—in drawers and closets, on desks and shelves.

Instead of setting out to make a certain thing, you can consider the “making” that’s involved in things that you ordinarily do. Then do one of those things, and write about it.

What should you write? Anything, of course.

Look at what you made. Or take a picture of it. Write about what you see and what it reminds you of.

You can describe what you made and how you made it. You can write about the things you used or touched to make it. You can tell what it is and why it’s useful—or not. You can explain why you made it and whether or not it came out the way you intended.

Another way to “write” about what you made is to draw it. You can do some combination of both if that seems like a good idea.

After you have filled up a page, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Look it over carefully, and add things if you want. You can add words, or color, or decoration. Here is an example of what a person could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in. Or post a picture of it.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: Mysterious Help

by Nancy Casey

Begin by taking some time to think about all the different times that people have helped you. While you do that you could take a walk, do a task that doesn’t involve words, or just sit somewhere pleasant.

Help comes in many ways.

Sometimes help can literally save a person’s life. Someone can be bleeding, physically or emotionally. Someone else comes along and does something to make the bleeding stop.

Help also comes along when disasters aren’t happening. Someone listens to you or shares good advice. Someone does the dishes or moves a couch. Help makes life easier and more pleasant.

Sometimes one person asks another to do something. They do it. That’s help.

Help comes indirectly and by accident, too. Someone can say something casually and 10 years later someone else still notices how profoundly they were affected by it. People who feel like they are just living a life can inspire friends or strangers with their example.

If somebody hurts you and you learn a lot from it, that’s not help. That’s something else entirely. If those kinds of things keep popping into your mind as you remember how you have been helped, set them aside for another time. Save them for a day when you want to write about how you have overcome adversity.

After thinking about it for a while, begin to write about times you’ve gotten help. But don’t explain anything about what you needed and what it was like to get the help. Don’t identify anyone by name. Just write a line or two. Find some good details you can put in without giving away the story.

For example, if your dad always gave you good advice and his favorite chair was green, you could write, “What the man in the green chair said.” If you watched children on a playground and understood something new and important about yourself or others, you could write, “Listening to the argument that two short people had in the park.” If you were being taken away in an ambulance and a person sat beside you saying calm, reassuring things, you could call it, “A soothing voice in a strange car.”

You will end up writing a page full of things that sound interesting enough. But only you will know what they really, really mean.

When you have finished, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too.

Then go back and look at your page. Hold it out at arms’ length and squint so it just looks like writing and white space. Then do something to fill up the white space. More words, doodles, drawings. It doesn’t matter, just give the page the squint-test and keep adding things until it looks full.

While you do this, if you get an idea for a different title, put it underneath the first one. If you don’t, no worries.

Here is an example of what a person could write.

Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: Time for Action!

by Nancy Casey

In the world of English grammar, verbs are the words that describe action. Action is everywhere. Every living thing is doing something all the time, and so are non-living things, even if we don’t pay much attention.

In your writing today, you will be on the lookout for action and try to notice it in lots of different ways. When you do that, you are thinking up verbs.

Begin with a clean sheet of paper. Settle into a place with a lot of things in front of you. Maybe you’ll be looking out a window or across a room. You could be in a public place like a library or a park bench. You could be in your home. You can even be someplace where you are convinced nothing ever happens. (If you are sitting two feet away from a blank wall, maybe you will want to choose a different location.)

In your mind, start naming what’s in front of you. Write down a list of the names of the things (or people, or animals) that you see. Write the words in a column down the left-hand side of the page. Skip a line between each one. The words you write won’t be verbs. They are nouns, the names of things (or pets or people.)

Nouns come to life when you think up verbs to go along with them.

For each of the things (nouns) on your list, write a sentence that describes what it is doing.

For some things it will be easy—kids running, windshield wipers swishing, water boiling. For other things, you have to wake up your creativity and see the world from their point of view.

Often your first thought will be that an object is not doing anything, but even lying there doing nothing is doing something! Things that don’t appear to be doing much could be waiting or remembering. Dust covers a table. Grass can push up towards the sky or uncrumple itself after being walked on. The air fills up with moisture when it’s humid and sucks the moisture from your skin when it’s dry. The trick is to turn your mind sideways and try to see the world from the point of view of the thing you are looking at.

As you go down your list of nouns, if you have trouble noticing what something is doing and don’t know what to write, just skip it and go on to the next one. By the time you get back to it later, you will probably have an idea that you can use. Try not to use any verbs more than once.

By the time you have filled the page, you will have demonstrated to yourself that even a quiet room can be a busy, active place!

When you have finished, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add decoration and color to the page as needed. Here is an example of what a person could write.

Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: Opposite Seasons

by Nancy Casey

In the heat of the summer, it’s awfully hard to remember winter. In the middle of winter, it seems like summer just isn’t possible.

Today in your writing, you will be thinking about summer and winter at the same time.

Begin with a blank sheet of paper which is oriented in the “landscape” position. That is, with the longer edge as the width and the shorter edge as the height. Fold the paper in half to make a dividing line that goes down the middle from top to bottom.

On each side of the center line, draw a whole-body picture of yourself. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece (although it might turn out to be one!) I just has to remind you of you.

The image on the left side of the page will be your summer self. The right side of the page will represent your winter self. Add clothing and accessories. Try to remember what you wear or carry with you in winter and in summer.

As you work on those two drawings, let your thoughts roam around your life and surroundings and how they are different in the hot and cold seasons. Find ways to add those details to what you have drawn.

If you enjoy drawing, this is a chance to “write” a page by drawing only. If you prefer to write about how you and your routines change with the weather, you can write words and sentences beside your drawing. Or you can do a combination of both—make some sketches and add captions or labels to include additional information. Keep trying to picture yourself in summer and in winter and fill up the page with details that come to mind.

The clothes you wear undoubtedly change with the season. As does the view out your window. Do you have different daily chores depending on whether it is hot or cold out? Does the weather affect how you entertain yourself? Do your job duties change? What about your eating habits? Do you use different forms of transportation or see different friends? Do certain items—tools or toys—go in and out of storage depending on the season?

Fill the page somehow, summer on the left, winter on the right. Use whatever combination of drawing and writing seems right.

When you have put in as many details as you can possibly think of, rest for a bit. Do something else for 10 or 15 minutes while you are open to the possibility of new ideas coming to mind. When you think up new things that can go on the page, add them.

When you have finished, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Here is an example of such a page could end up looking like.

Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information

Write for You: Thanks for the Hospitality

by Nancy Casey

We usually think of hospitality as the effort that somebody makes on behalf of a visitor or guest. Most of us have probably experienced both sides of the hospitality coin.

When we plan to receive a guest, we think about things that will make them comfortable. What will they want to eat or drink? How will I keep them amused and happy? Do they have special needs or habits I need to consider? It takes a bit of effort to be a good host.

Sometimes the hospitality is organized and formal, especially if the guest and the host don’t know each other well. Sometimes it’s very relaxed, such as when you sweep the laundry off the chair so your good friend who dropped by can sit down.

As guests, we are the ones who are away from our usual customs. We hope that we can be comfortable and that things go smoothly. When we see that someone has gone to a lot of trouble on our behalf, we appreciate that. We have lots of reasons to thank our hosts.

The writer Kathleen Norris, in her book Acedia and Me encourages people to consider “acts of hospitality to yourself.” All the efforts that you make to keep your home clean and comfortable. The meals that you organize for yourself. The plans you make so that you can do things that you enjoy. The money you spend to improve your life.

All day long we do things to make ourselves feel welcome and comfortable in our own lives. We are our own guests and we are our own hosts.

Today in your writing practice, write a thank you note. The guest half of you will write a thank you note to the host half of you to thank you for all the efforts you make just for you.

A good way for a guest to write a thank you note is to identify a couple of different things that you know the host did just for you. Then for each one, say what they did and tell why that was a nice thing for you.

When you have finished your note, give it a title. (Even though thank-you notes, don’t usually have titles on them—this one is just for you.) Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add decoration and color to the page as needed. Here is an example of what a person could write.

Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information

Write for You: It’s Cool in the Library

by Nancy Casey

You can use your writing practice to ride out a heat wave if you take yourself on a field trip to the delicious air conditioning in the public library—and write about it.

If you aren’t a big reader of books, you might doubt that there can be much in the library for you. The library has a lot more to offer than books, however. You can think of it as a place for people who are curious about the world. If the world is feeling a little dull to you, the library can make it interesting again.

Unlike a store, a restaurant, or a movie theater, you don’t need money in your pockets to enjoy what’s in the library. The only rules are basic manners: keep your voice down, be polite, and don’t break or steal things.

Libraries are a perfect place for shy people. You don’t have to mingle or talk to strangers. You don’t even have to talk to the people you know. You can relax in a good seat at the edge of the room and watch what’s happening—or just fool around on your phone. Nobody will think you are a wallflower who doesn’t know how to make small talk. They’ll just think you are someone who happens to be in the library.

There is plenty to look at in the library. Usually a display or two with interesting things to check out. Bulletin boards with information about the community. Children doing the goofy and clever things that children do. All types of people just being people.

You can learn about anything in a library. Librarians are trained to help you find anything you are looking for. They like it when you ask. A librarian can point you to books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and computers where you can learn about things you care about.

Wander around and see what kinds of books they have. Books in the sections on arts and crafts can show you the huge variety of things that people can make. You can even learn how to make them if you are so inclined. Do you like science, or history? Music and poetry? Weightlifting? Rocks? Bikes? Animals? Religion? Classic cars? It’s all in the library somewhere.

You can pull any book at all off the shelf just to ask yourself, “What’s this all about?” Open it up, page through it, and put it back. It’s fun to wander around and allow yourself to be impressed with all the things a person could know.

You don’t have to read books to enjoy them. “Oversize” books are some of the best. These are the books that are too tall to fit on the regular shelves and weigh a ton. They tend to be full of amazing photographs—art, cities, wildlife, outer space, people, and anything else you can imagine. You can lug a couple of them to a table, turn the pages and enjoy what you see.

You can flip through magazines, too. New ones or old ones. Look at pictures and advertising, read a story or two. You can also read the newspaper.

For your writing practice today, take yourself on a field trip to the library. Expect the unexpected. Relax. Beat the heat. Write about what you see, hear, do and think.

Whatever you end up writing, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add decoration and color to the page as needed. Here is an example of what a person could write.

Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: Reading the World

Reading the World

by Nancy Casey

Some people read books, but everybody reads. Today in your writing, describe the reading that you do that isn’t traditional book-reading.

Walking around town, we read things whether we want to or not. Think about the word Exit, for instance or the names of businesses along the street. Do words jump out at you from billboards or people’s clothing? At a traffic light, you read symbols to know when it’s safe to proceed.

Do you read on a device like a phone or a computer? Are you a reader of social media? Do you read short things or long things? Sometimes you probably read pictures. Do you prefer to read pictures that are still or pictures that move? Do you like there to be silence or sound with your pictures? Do you like words with the pictures?

All kinds of reading take place on the job. Some people read words on paper, others read numbers. A person reads a machine when they watch what it is doing and know when they should intervene.

It might seem odd to think about reading that doesn’t involve words. We read words to understand or imagine things and, maybe learn something, too. But we learn and understand from paying attention to lots of things, words included. In that sense, we are reading the world around us all the time.

We read social situations in order to decide where to sit or stand in a room. We read people’s faces and figure out all kinds of things. What can you figure out from reading the sky?

Today in your writing, describe some of the ways that you read words and read the world. Tell what you learn from what you read. What kinds of reading in the world do you like the most?

When you have finished, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add decoration and color to the page as needed. Here is an example of what a person could write.

Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information