Write for You: A Big Fat Pen

by Nancy Casey

Is there really enough time in the day to do all the things that are good for you? Meditation and relaxation. Yoga and stretching. Take a walk. Catch up with a friend. Cook some nutritious food. Work on a craft project. Sleep.

There also must be time to do the things you have to do. Laundry. Go to work. Take care of certain people. Clean up after yourself. Show up for meetings and engagements.

Then there is your writing practice. Of course it’s always a good idea to write a page. In the act of writing we say to ourselves, “I am here.” Over time, the collection of pages gives you a record of who you are.

If you find it hard to make the time to write a page because you live in a continuous avalanche of “oughts” and obligations—get a fatter pen. A big fat pen.

Today, write a page using the biggest pen you can find. Or a crayon, maybe. Even your finger could work. (What could you dip it in?)

Today, write with something nice and fat. Something that forces you to write big letters. Something that will fill up the page really fast.

Lay out your page before you begin to write. Draw a line where the title will go. Set off some space for illustration. You can always doodle around in the illustration space while you are thinking about what you will write.

Write anything you want. Whatever comes to mind.

If nothing comes to mind, begin by writing down the names of things that are in front of you. You won’t run out of things to name before you run out of space on the page. Especially if you decide to add some comments or description to what you name.

You will fill up the page in no time at all. Maybe you will say, “Look at that! I’m already done!”

I hope you will also say, “This was really easy. No need to make a big deal of it.”

Maybe you will even say, “No reason not to do this again tomorrow.”

Give your work a title when you have finished. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add further decoration and color to the page as needed. Here is an example of what a person’s page could look like.

You can share what you have written by posting 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 will offer writing classes in the spring. You can find more of her work here. She also available to give (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels, homework—for more information email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

Write for You: About That Groundhog

by Nancy Casey

Have you ever been like the groundhog in the story about spring? The groundhog who wakes up, leaves its burrow, sees its shadow, runs back inside and makes spring stay away for six weeks. That is, unless it’s cloudy. When there’s no scary shadow, the groundhog stays outdoors and spring comes right away.

How does the groundhog remind you of yourself?

Notice that the groundhog isn’t a quitter. When the groundhog sets out into the world and something scary happens, it goes home to rest and think about what happened. Later it tries again and things work out.

Have you ever had that experience?

Maybe the groundhog has been reminded since the day it was born to stay out of the bright sun to avoid predators. “If you can see your own shadow,” the adults would say, “dive for cover.” If the groundhog goes outside when it’s cloudy, it learns its way around. When the sun comes out later and the groundhog sees its shadow, it knows of many safe places to go. It doesn’t need to run all the way back home to bed to stay out of danger.

Has anything like that ever happened to you?

Have you ever been in a situation where a whole lot of people had all kinds of opinions about what you were going to do, but all you wanted was to be focused on one step at a time? That’s what happens to the groundhog. It just wakes up in the morning and does its normal best. All kinds of people pass judgement, positive and negative. Everybody is talking about the groundhog. They hold the groundhog responsible for something it has no control over. (Maybe that’s the real reason why the groundhog goes back to bed to hide.)

How do you think the Spring feels about all this? Spring has been working and pushing all season, trying to warm up the world and when it succeeds—that timid little groundhog who slept the whole winter through gets all the credit!

What about all the other groundhogs? Do they select someone to go out first? Is it a job that groundhogs want? Is the first groundhog some kind of rebel, pioneer, or outcast? Do they throw a going-away party? If the first groundhog stays out, do the others quickly follow? Are some parents more strict about safety than others?

Even in a year when the groundhog runs right back inside for six weeks, sooner or later all the groundhogs are out. Sooner or later spring comes, too. By then, we’ll have forgetten the groundhog story until next February. What other stories remind you of February?

Today, write a page about something that has something to do with the groundhog story.

Lay out your page before you begin to write. Draw a line where the title will go. Set off some space for illustration. You can always doodle around in the illustration space while you are thinking about what you will write.

Give your work a title when you have finished. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add further 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 type in your work. Or post a picture of it.


Nancy Casey
has lived in Latah County for many years. She will offer writing classes in the spring. You can find more of her work here. She is also available to give (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories, novels, homework, anything. For more information email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

Write for You: No Such Thing

by Nancy Casey

If you made a list of everything that exists, it would be pretty long. Would a list of all the things that might exist be even longer? The list of things that can’t possibly exist is probably the longest of all. Those are the things you will write about today.

The phrase that you will use to push yourself along is, “There is no such thing as…”

First, set up your page by drawing a line across the top where the title will go. Mark off some space for an illustration or doodle that you can add later. That space can be any shape that you want.

Then get started. Write the words, “There is no such thing as…” While you are writing them, an idea for finishing the sentence will probably occur to you.

What can’t possibly exist? Gazillions of things. If you have a hard time thinking them up, jiggle your mind a little bit to loosen its hold on the way things ought to be.

Look at something in front of you. Ask yourself what it isn’t. (There is no such thing as a couch that does the dishes.)

Think about the story of your life, past, present, and future. What is definitely not going to be happening to you? (There is no such thing as a person turning into a muffin.)

Think about the laws of the universe and all the things that don’t happen because of them. (There is no such thing as a human swimming to Mars wearing only a hat.)

After you have thought up an impossible thing, write another sentence that adds to it or comments on it a little bit. For instance, if a person wrote, “There is no such thing as money growing on trees.” For the added part, they could put, “Because if there were, I’d be out there harvesting right now.” Or they could add, “But it sure could be fun if I was wrong.” Or, “Even if you use lots of pennies for fertilizer.”

Continue filling up the page, first naming something that doesn’t exist, and then expounding on it a little bit.

When you have finished, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add an illustration or other decoration and color to the page. 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 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: Before and After and Before

by Nancy Casey

Today you will have a chance to time-travel in your imagination.

First, set up your page. Draw a line at the top where the title will go when you are finished. If you think you might want an illustration on your page, draw a box or frame that saves room for it. You could even put a frame around the whole page if you want.

Begin by writing a sentence, any old sentence, that starts with the word “Before…” It will be a sentence that comes out, more or less, Before something-something, something-something.

If you have trouble getting an idea, you are probably thinking too hard. Just stick the word “Before” in front of some random thing that has happened in your day so far. Finish off the sentence by telling some random thing that happened before that.

Maybe you would write something like: Before I put on my shoes, I got out of bed. Another possibility would be: Before those plants were in the corner, they were outside. Or, Before the sun came up it was night. Or even, Before I ate breakfast, dinosaurs roamed the earth.

For the next sentence, begin with the words, “After that…” Now you have to write down something that happened or might happen after the thing in the first sentence you wrote.

You don’t have to say anything profound, or even particularly sensible, just tell of something that could or did happen after the first thing.

You can skip to a point centuries in the future, or tell what’s going to happen in the next nanosecond, as long as it comes after. Remember that when you write about the future, nobody knows what’s going to happen, so you can put anything.

Your next sentence will begin with the words, Before that… This will be a sentence that tells about something that happened before the thing you just wrote about.

The next sentence will start, After that…

The following sentence will begin, Before that…

Alternate those two beginnings all the way down the page. You will find yourself zig-zagging in time. Maybe you will go very far in the past and future. Maybe you will stay close to a certain moment. You will always be going back and forth.

You never run out of things to write down, because you have the entire history of the universe (and beyond!) to choose from.

Try not to stop writing until you get to the bottom of the page. Don’t read it all over until you are finished. Use whatever ideas pop into your head, instead of trying to think up something sensible or “good.”

If you left a box for an illustration, make sure that gets filled up. You can doodle, draw, add more words, or some combination of those.

When you have finished, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add further decoration and color to the page as needed. (It’s a good thing to do!) 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 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 About Tuesday

by Nancy Casey

Begin your writing by taking a few minutes to set up your page. This is a way to ground yourself and begin to focus. It helps the mind-chatter fall gently away. When it’s time to start writing words, there will already be marks on the page. This helps you get started if you find a clean, white page daunting.

Here’s the page setup: Draw a line close to the top of the page where the title will go. Off to one side draw a box that’s a couple inches tall and a couple inches wide. You will be drawing something in this box, so if you like to draw more than you like to write, make the box sort of big.

The rest of the page is for writing. In that space, put a dot at the spot where the page will be about half full when your writing gets to it.

Finally, begin to write. Write about Tuesdays. What do you do on Tuesdays? Is there anything in your regular schedule that always falls on a Tuesday? A meeting or an appointment, perhaps. Some people take classes that meet on Tuesdays. Others have certain job duties special for Tuesdays. Perhaps Tuesday is the day of a program or podcast that you like.

Things that happen every day happen on Tuesdays, so include some of them if you like.

As you write about your Tuesdays, the page will start to fill up. When your writing gets close to the dot, make a slight shift in your thinking. Focus on the very next Tuesday that is coming up. What will you be doing on that particular Tuesday? Your regular Tuesday things, of course. What else?

Do you have any specific plans for the coming Tuesday? What will the weather be? How will you dress for the day? Perhaps you will be meeting a friend for some reason on Tuesday. Maybe you will start reading a book—or finish one. Are there any tasks you hope to start or finish on Tuesday?

Write about anything you can think of that has anything to do with this coming Tuesday.

When the page is full, read over what you have written. Then draw something in the box you made when you set the page up. You can draw a picture that is directly related to what you have written—or not. You can doodle. You can simply color the box all one color if you want to.

When you draw or color, your mind relaxes. You might keep thinking about Tuesdays. Your thoughts might meander off elsewhere.

After you have finished, write a title above the line that you drew at the top of the page. Make sure the date is on the page somewhere, too. Add more decoration and color to if you think that’s 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. 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: Probably and Probably Not

by Nancy Casey

The New Year is coming up.

In your writing today, you will have an opportunity to think about the coming year. You are going to need a few art materials for this: crayons, colored pencils or markers, glitter and glue, anything you like. At a minimum, make sure you have you two colors to work with.

First set up your page. Draw the line at the top where the title will go. Then draw two lines straight down the paper to make three columns that run the length of the page. At the top of the left-hand column write the heading “Probably Not.” For the right hand column, write the heading “Probably.” Leave the middle column blank for now.

Certainly the year will bring changes and surprises, but much of the year will also meet your plans and expectations. In the “Probably” column, make a list of things that will probably happen during the coming year. There will be lots of them. Think of all the parts of your daily routine that are unlikely to change. Think about plans you have made that are likely to work out. Think about things you have to do whether you want to or not.

Don’t put anything on the “Probably” list unless you are pretty certain about it. Sometimes it’s the most simple things (rain, for instance) that you can be most sure of.

In the “Probably Not” column, make a list of things that you are quite certain won’t happen. Once you get going the possibilities are endless. Will the moon be crashing into the ocean? Will you be growing some new fingers?

Once “Probably” and “Probably Not” are all filled up, fill the middle column with doodles. Yes, doodles. This and that. Scribbles. No planning ahead. No trying to get it right. Just doodle.

While you are doodling, let your mind wander to the uncertain parts of the coming year. Good and not-so-good things that are beyond your imagination will happen to you. Opportunities and people will present themselves. You will unexpectedly change a habit. You will resolve challenges and be met with new ones. You will begin to dislike something you like and start to like something you currently dislike.

What’s in store for you in the coming year? The whole year ahead: winter, spring, summer, fall, and winter again. What’s going to matter most to you by then? Who knows? Just doodle.

If you have doodled up the column in one color, switch to another color and add more things. When you feel like you are all done, add just a little bit more.

When your page is filled, your it will look like the coming year. There is plenty of certainty, but down the middle of it all, a whole lot that you never guessed was going to turn out the way it did–until you did it. It’s colorful and intricate. You took each step even if you didn’t know where it was going. When you step back and give it a look, it’s all very interesting. And it’s yours.

When you have finished, look over everything and give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. 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 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: Rituals and Rhythms

by Nancy Casey

In your writing today, you will be thinking about the rituals that you have, or once had, in your life.

In the broadest sense, a ritual is something that we do over and over again. Usually for a pretty good reason.

There are a lot of rituals contained in our daily habits. Many people always do the same thing when they get up in the morning. We can have rituals for health and hygiene, for keeping ourselves well-fed. We can have rituals for going to bed.

Some rituals are seasonal. All the different holidays throughout the year have different rituals associated with them. Our personal rituals for getting dressed and going out the door change with the seasons as well. If you walk to work along the same route every day, noticing the seasonal changes in a stranger’s yard could become a ritual for you.

There are many types of formal rituals. Think of the many rituals associated with churches and religions. Families have rituals Sports teams have rituals. Clubs have rituals. Support groups have rituals.

Rituals are usually comforting somehow. Sometimes the memory of how we have performed the same set of actions again and again over time can show us how we have grown. Sometimes when we don’t know what else to do, rituals can carry us through. Some rituals help us do good things for ourselves, whether we feel like doing them or not.

Today, write about the rituals in your life. You might decide to write in detail about just one ritual. Or you if you prefer, you could take note of many different rituals that you engage in over the course of a day, a month, a year, or your life so far.

Rituals are repetitive. They put a special kind of rhythm into our lives. There is something reliable about them. What do your rituals do for you?

When you have finished writing, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on the page somewhere, too. Add decoration and color 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 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.