Write for You: Just Doodle

by Nancy Casey

When you have a writing practice, your goal is to do some writing. Period. It is likely that benefits will accrue from your efforts, but the connection isn’t always direct. Maybe over time, you will like yourself better or get in touch with your feelings. Maybe your regular writing will improve your spelling. Maybe it will give you a great idea for how to rearrange the furniture.

When you sit down to do your writing, the task is always the same: fill up a page. One page. On some days you might do extra. Maybe your writing will spill onto a second page and then a third one. But maybe it won’t. Your goal is to fill a page and when the page is full, you’ve succeeded.

You don’t have to write fast. Your writing doesn’t have to be neat. You don’t have to write in cursive. The words don’t need to be packed in tight as bricks. As long as the page is full and has some words on it, you’ve done your writing.

To demonstrate that to yourself, let doodling be the focus of your writing today.

When you doodle, you send your pen around the page to make whatever marks you happen to make. Perhaps you will “draw” things that you know how to draw. If you do, don’t draw them with the intent of making them look a certain way. Don’t hesitate or wonder what you ought to do. Just let your pen roam around, making lines and shapes, marks and blobs. As long as that’s happening, you are doing it right.

You can start in one small place on the page, like the middle or a corner, and let your doodle grow outward from there. Or perhaps you would prefer to begin with a few large strokes over the whole page and then fill in the spaces you have made. Maybe you’ll do some combination of both.

Having several colors handy to make some variety can be nice, but it isn’t a requirement.

In the course of your doodling, write a few words. Very few. Ten would be plenty.

Notice how it feels to doodle up a whole page. Usually after about 10 minutes of an activity like doodling, a person’s mind slows down. Maybe your brain starts to doodle, too. That slowing of the mind is the real purpose of your writing practice. It doesn’t seem like much when it is happening, but over time, in a process that nobody really understands, it can create a little island of calmness inside of you. The benefits that come from “writing” really come from the calmness you create by doing the writing. Anything that lands on the page is a bonus.

When you have filled your page with doodling, turn it sideways and upside-down to see which way it looks best. Figure out where the title should go. Write the date on it as well. 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 and has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center in the past. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with a writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: The Sky is Falling

by Nancy Casey

One of the things you can do on a rainy day is marvel at what is happening. Water, an essential substance that we can’t live without, is falling down on us from the sky. Imagine that!

Today in your writing, play around with the idea of things falling from the sky. You can write sentences that take this form:

[….What?Who?…] fell down from the sky [….And did what?…].

You might have a lot more to say about it. Were there consequences? Was there a reason?

Maybe you wish something would fall down from the sky and make some changes in the world or in your life. In that case, begin, “I wish…” and let your imagination open the sky and start dropping things. Describe the changes these things make.

Maybe you are absolutely clear about what you don’t want falling down from the sky and into your reality. Then you could write sentences in this form:

I hope […Who?What?….] doesn’t fall from the sky ….

You will probably want to add some more information to explain why this would not be a good thing.

Another way to write about what falls from the sky is to imagine all the visible and invisible things that could fall and tell what that feels like, or what it makes you think of. The poet Paul Verlaine, for example, wrote, “Tears fall in my heart like rain on the town.” What else can fall from the sky and affect the way you feel? Must rain always be sad? What could fall from the sky and make you laugh? A fly ball falling from the sky and into a baseball glove would likely make an outfielder feel quite satisfied.

Today in your writing, open up the sky to your imagination. You can give all the details of a momentous sky-drop. Or, if you prefer, you can describe many different things that will or could or won’t fall from the sky.

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. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with a writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: Questions, questions

-by Nancy Casey

There is so much that we just don’t know! That’s why we ask questions. Questions probably run through your head all the time.

Today in your writing, all you will do is ask questions. Questions that you don’t know the answer to. One after another. As many as you can.

If you are asking yourself, “How can I write a page full of questions?” here are some hints to help jostle some questions out of your imagination and onto the page.

  • The question words: Who? What? When? Where? and Why? Lots of questions start with those words. You can pull any idea out of the air, and probably think up a question that begins with each of those words.
  • Don’t forget about all of the questions you can ask that begin with How? Sometimes How? gets overlooked because it doesn’t start with W.
  • What if? When you start a question like that, every possible and impossible thing in the universe is available for you to ask about.
  • Start with a thing. Pick any thing and ask some questions about it.
  • Start with a person or a place.
  • Start with an action, think about flying or laughing or sleeping and ask questions about that.

Teachers and students alike have observed that people learn best when they are learning things they have questions about.

Scientists are always asking questions. Artists ask questions all the time, too. Everyone does. Not all questions lead to answers. Every question doesn’t need an answer. The way we sort the questions that matter to us from the ones that don’t is by asking them all.

In his work Letters to a Young Poet, the writer Rainier Maria Rilke invites us to love the questions themselves. Think of them as locked rooms, he says and promises that by living you find the keys.

After you have written a zillion questions, 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. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with a writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: In the Doorway

by Nancy Casey

A doorway is a powerful image. You can find them in films, songs, advertising, news reports, memes, paintings—not to mention real life. Doorways are everywhere.

Today, as you prepare your writing materials and settle in to your writing practice, imagine doorways. Doorways you have known, doorways you have stood in or passed through, doorways you have seen pictures of, doorways you can imagine, whether they are real or not. You could draw a picture of a doorway while you think about this.

Then think about the doorway with something or someone in it. It could be you or another person, a pet, an object, a plant. It can be something that’s invisible. It can be something you remember or something that you make up.

Use this fill-in-the-blank to start up your writing: “________ was in the doorway…” Then tell the rest of the story.

You can describe the doorway itself. You can describe the person or thing in the doorway. You can describe where the doorway is. You might want to tell something about the time, or the day or what else is nearby.

Don’t leave the doorway frozen in space and time like a photograph, however. Roll the camera. Tell what happened.

Doorways almost always represent some kind of transition, because they always change. Someone walks in or out. The door opens and closes. Nothing can stay in a doorway forever, because the doorway will be blocked and not be a doorway anymore. You might want to say something about the transition that takes place in your doorway story.

Maybe you will find yourself telling a single long story that begins with a certain doorway. Maybe you will end up telling several brief stories from doorways. Although each story begins with a doorway, there are many variations on how you can tell it. You can mix things that are “real” and things that are “made up” into your story however you like.

However it turns out, 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.

You can share what you have written by posting it as a comment below. You can do that by typing or pasting text. Or you can take a picture of your page and post that.

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. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with a writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: What Kind of Morning

by Nancy Casey

What are your mornings like? How does your day begin?

Does “morning” happen for you in the “A.M.” part of the day? Does your day begin in daylight or darkness?

What do you do in the morning? Is it always the same? Does the way you spend the morning affect you during the rest of the day?

Today you will write about what makes mornings feel the way they do. Every type of morning you can think of, real or not. You can write about mornings you remember. You can write about mornings that you wish you could have, or mornings you are glad you don’t have. In other words, this is a chance to write about all the different ways a morning can be.

Use this fill-in-the-blank sentences to do that:

It is a _________ morning when _________.

Write out all the words each time. It feels like you are repeating yourself at first. After a few lines, the part of your mind that had to pay attention to what you are writing can wander off and bring you ideas for the word to put in the blank. Some of the ideas might seem goofy, but don’t reject them. There’s no law against being goofy. Some of the ideas might seem strange or serious. There’s no law against that, either.

When you come to the first blank, fill it in with whatever pops into your head. Even if you haven’t thought up anything for the second blank. Something will pop into your head when you get to the second blank. Guaranteed.

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.

You can share what you have written by posting it as a comment below. You can do that by typing or pasting text. Or you can take a picture of your page and post that.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again later in the spring. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with a writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: A Perfect Day

by Nancy Casey

In a perfect world, on a perfect day, what is the first thing that would happen to you? And the last thing–how would a perfect day end? What would lie in between?

As you organize your writing materials, daydream about the things that would make a day feel perfect for you. Remember that a “perfect” day will have as many minutes as it takes to fit all of the perfect things into it.

  • Imagine the events of a perfect day. The things that you would do or see, and things that would happen either intentionally or by accident.
  • Imagine your body on a perfect day. Strength and grace? Aches and pains? Clothing and appearance? Food and drink?
  • Imagine perfect interactions and conversations, the people you would see and what you would say to each other.
  • Imagine the places you would go and what you would do or witness there.
  • Imagine the perfect things you could touch.
  • Imagine what you would accomplish on a perfect day. What would you start? What would you finish?
  • Imagine your thoughts, your memories and self-talk. What would you deliberately think about and what would pop up in the wanderings of your daydreams?
  • Imagine the weather, the news, and other things you have no control over. What would they be like on a perfect day?
  • A perfect day would finish with a perfect night’s sleep. What would that be like? Will there be dreams?

Write down the details of your perfect day in a way that feels perfect for you. Here are some different ways you could do that:

  • Write down everything you think of, in the order that you think of it, any old way at all.
  • Tell the story of a perfect day from beginning to end.
  • Write the letters of the alphabet down the left-hand side of the page. As you think up the details of a perfect day write them down next to the letter they begin with.
  • Draw a clock on the page, and write down the perfect details according to what time they happen.

When you run out of perfect details, doodle on the page a little bit. Maybe you will think up some more.

When you have finished, you will have made a record of the many different ways a drop of “perfect” can land in your life. When you notice the drops, you notice the ripples.

Give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add any additional decoration or color that the page needs. Here is an example of what a person could write.

You can share what you have written by posting it as a comment below. You can type your comment, or take a picture of your page and post that.


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. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with a writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

 

Write for You: Spirals of Care

by Nancy Casey

In this exercise you will make a page that is all about things that matter to you, but doesn’t have any writing on it.

Getting ready

As you organize yourself for you writing practice, think about what’s important to you. Certain people. Special places. Things you own or wish you owned. Unforgettable events. If you see it often or think about it a lot, it’s important.

You will need a clean sheet of paper for making the page, and also a scrap page that you can use for notes and practice drawings. Have some colors handy—pencils, crayons, paints, pens or markers. Color helps to make the page decorative and imparts information in its own way

Making the page

Begin with the scrap page. Write down 10 or 15 things or people that are important to you. Spread them out around the page. Just write a word or two, don’t write details or explain.

Next to each thing or person you have written down, draw some kind of picture or symbol that will remind you of it. The only thing that matters about what you draw is that letters and words are outlawed.

Perhaps there’s a person on your list who was wearing an interesting shirt the last time you saw them. You could draw a little shirt for that person’s symbol. If it’s someone who makes you laugh, you could draw a big smile.

Your symbols don’t even have to be pictures. You can use shapes and squiggles for your symbols. Or punctuation marks. Any kind of drawing will do, as long as you understand the connection.

Next, take up the blank page. Draw a little circle in the middle. That’s you.

Now re-draw each one of the symbols you invented, this time on the main page. Space them all out evenly around the circle in the middle. Put symbols for things and people that are physically close to you near the middle of the page. Put things and people that are farther away from you near the edge of the page.

Color the symbols.

Next, draw some connections. Are these things and people connected to each other? They are probably all connected to you somehow.

Make every connection you draw look different. If it’s a strong connection, make it thick. Make weak connections thin. Make goofy connections goofy. Connections can look like rope, or rocks, bubbles or dotted lines.

Color the connections. Add colors to the symbols as needed. Try to be decorative.

When you have finished, draw a big spiral over the whole page. Start in the middle where the little circle is, and draw a spiral that spreads out from there.

Then stand back and take a look at what you’ve done. You’ve filled a whole page with information about what’s important to you and the way these things are connected. And it doesn’t contain a single word.

The scrap paper? Throw it away.

When you have finished, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too.. Here is an example of a page a person could make.

You can share what you have written by posting it as a comment below. Take a picture of your page and post it to the comment box.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She will has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again later this spring. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with any writing project you are working on—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for some help.