Write for You: Not You

by Nancy Casey

Today in your writing you will have a chance to think about all the things that you are not.

You will do this by inventing an imaginary person who is different from you in many ways.

For example, if you are a student sitting in a chair with a notebook, wondering what you are going to write, you could begin by writing, “The student is sitting in a chair with a cat, wondering what to name it.” That same student could begin with something more far-fetched, something like, “The professor is sitting on a log in the forest, with a map, wondering which way to go.”

After you have written one sentence to describe an imaginary person who is not like yourself, write another one. And another one. And another. Until you almost-fill the page.

What time did you get up this morning? What are you wearing? What color are your eyes? What is your gender? Use details about yourself as springboards for describing your imaginary person. Twist your details around so they don’t describe you anymore.

Since your person is imaginary, they can have any powers and characteristics that your imagination wants to give them–as long as you don’t have them, too. Your person can fly and breathe under water if that suits your fancy (and you can’t.) They can be microscopic or trapped inside a tree. Or they can be the ordinary kind of person someone would run into around town–as long as they wouldn’t remind anyone of you.

Write down as many details as you can about this person. If you run out of ideas, look back at yourself. What’s going on? What will you be doing today? How many siblings do you have? Where do you live? What color is your hair? What do you do for fun?

As you take note of a detail about yourself, turn it into something different or opposite. Use that new detail to describe your imaginary person. It’s okay if your imaginary person turns into a bit of a hodgepodge. They’re imaginary!

Stop writing before you get to the very bottom of the page. Leave a couple inches of white space.

Go back and read over what you wrote. If you want to, you can make changes or squeeze in some more details, as long as the details aren’t like you. Have you thought of a name for this imaginary person? What would it be like to be this person?

In the last remaining space on the page, add a few more sentences. You could continue describing the imaginary person. Or you could draw a line across the page beneath what you have written and write some comments about it.

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 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: Tools for Understanding

by Nancy Casey

We have five senses. We think things up. We learn from the world outside of ourselves. We wonder about things and ask ourselves questions.

These are some of the tools that we use to move smoothly through the world as we experience it. They help us dress properly for the weather, avoid spoiled food, make friends, and understand ourselves. These tools help us gather information. Some of them even operate 24/7.

Today you will write down some of the information you have gathered from these sources.

Begin by folding the page in half so that the top edge touches the bottom edge. Then fold the page in half again the same way. Fold the page a third time so that the left edge touches the right edge. When you open the page back up again, it will be divided into eight equal rectangles or boxes.

Leave a little bit of room at the top of the page for the title you will add later.

Write one of these headings at the top of each small rectangle:

See – Hear – Touch – Taste – Smell – Ideas – Others – Questions

Under the headings for each of the five senses, write down the names of a few things that you can perceive with each sense right now. You can also write things that you remember perceiving with each of those senses.

Under the heading “Ideas” write down a few things you have figured out or thought up. Our minds make up ideas constantly. Sometimes they are complex thoughts about the meaning of this universe. Sometimes our ideas are mostly about lunch.

In the box labeled “Others” write down some things you have learned from what you’ve noticed in the world outside yourself. What have you learned from other people? Have pets or other animals taught you things about the world? Have you learned from a plant? from a book? from a rock?

In the box marked “Questions” write down some questions that you don’t know the answer to. Our minds are asking questions all the time: “What’s that?” when we hear a loud sound. Profound questions about the direction of our lives. Decisions to make about what to wear and eat for the next 24 hours.

You don’t have to fill the boxes in any order. You can skip around. If you get stuck, look around you and listen to your mind—you’ll find you are using some combination of these eight tools all the time. You are constantly taking in information about the world. Your mind is constantly trying to understand everything better.

When you have filed all eight boxes, 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 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: Every Which Way

by Nancy Casey

We spend a lot of time being focused and staying organized. Many of us wish we were even more focused and organized than we are. Today you will write a page that is as disorganized and unfocused as you can make it.

The tool that you will use to make your writing full of distractions is the word “which.”

“Which” is a little word that we use before we add a little extra information about what we just wrote.

  • The bike which you are riding has two tires which are…
  • The page fills up with words which are written in blue which is the color of…
  • The couch which I got from Habitat which is on Main Street which is in Moscow which is in Idaho which borders…

Your challenge today will be to distract yourself as much as you can by using the word “which” as often as you can.

Begin with something small—a random thought, an object that’s right in front of you—and begin to write something about it. As soon as you possibly can, stick in the word “which” and explain something about the word you just wrote.

For example, you could look at the table in front of you and notice all the things that are on it, things that remind you of what you must do today and or what you forgot to do yesterday. The table has other random things on it too, all of them part of the story of your life today. You might begin by writing, “On the table….”

Immediately, you could add the word “which” and tell something about the table. You could write, “…which is standing on the floor…” Then add the word “which” again and tell something about the floor. You might end up with something like,

“On the table which is standing on the floor which is made of wood which comes from trees which have bark which is a dog sound which means…”

Keep on going and going, using the word “which” whenever you can to add new, random information.

You might have noticed that in the example above, the stuff all over the table never got written about. That’s the fun and beauty of distraction. You just keep moving forward and forget everything that’s behind. Don’t make any effort to write “about” something or “make sense.” Don’t bother planning ahead.

Wait until you get to the very end of the page before you go back and re-read what you have written. The best way to distract yourself far away from where you started is to forget where you started in the first place. So don’t go back and remind yourself until you are all done.

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 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: Without

by Nancy Casey

Today, write down a list of sentences or ideas that all begin with the word “without.”

Take a look around you. Do you see things that you couldn’t do without? You could write a sentence about what your life would be like without them.

Maybe you can see things that you wish you didn’t have in your life, and you could write and idea about what you it would mean if they weren’t there.

Let your imagination run to think about all the animals, vegetables and minerals that have no part in your life. What is it like to be without them?

Sometimes “being without” is difficult. Sometimes it is good to be without certain things: a sprained ankle, a boulder falling on your house, enemies.

You don’t have to limit yourself to ideas about your own life. You can think about strangers, your pets, or the plant on the windowsill. What would they be like without chocolate? Without water? Without gravity?

You can write about the planet we live on or the whole universe. What would they be without mosunderstandings? Without stars? Without dust?

At first “without” seems like it is a negative word, indicating that something is lacking. The more you write sentences that begin, “Without…” you’ll find that there’s always some kind of “with” hidden inside each one.

When you have filled a page (or more) 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 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: If It Happens…

by Nancy Casey

Lots of things haven’t happened yet. But they might. They could. All kinds of things.

Today in your writing, you will be thinking about all the different kinds of things that you would be pleased to see happen.

You don’t have to describe how a thing might happen, or discuss the chances of it happening. If you would like for it to happen, that counts.

As you are thinking of all these wonderful things that haven’t happened to you yet but might, imagine how you will say thank you to those who helped to make it happen.

Sometimes we have ourselves to thank. Sometimes other people help us out, and we thank them. Sometimes a material object that happens to be in the right place at the right time makes things work out for us. So we thank unseen forces or even the object itself. Sometimes people thank the weather, or gravity.

Begin with a sentence in this form:

“If _____, I will thank_____ for _____.”

Fill in the blanks and then expand this idea a little bit. You could thank several things or people if you like. You could explain more about it by adding a part that starts with “Because…” You could write down the exact words you would use to say thank you.

Then begin again. Write a new sentence in the form:

“If _____, I will thank_____ for _____.”

Expand on that one a little bit, and start again.

After you have filled a page, read over your work. Make small changes and corrections if you want to. 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 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: Shouldn’t Say Should

by Nancy Casey

You shouldn’t say “should.” Should you?

We’ve all probably observed ourselves or someone else organizing all of life into a pile of “shoulds.” I should do this. I should do that. I should do stop doing this other thing. I should forget about it. I should vacuum, study, walk, apologize, eat, sleep, sing, listen, work…

The problem with such a pile of “shoulds,” of course, is that they can get to weigh so heavy on your shoulders that you can’t get anything done.

But people wouldn’t lay all those “shoulds” upon themselves with no reason. There is always something better behind it.

Today’s writing will be in two parts. First you will take a few minues—only a few!—to wallow in your “shoulds.” Then you will look behind them for the good things hiding there.

Begin with a clean sheet of paper. Draw a vertical line down the middle of it, so it is divided into two halves, left and right. (Leave a little bit of room at the top to write the title after you have finished.)

Down the left-hand side, write the letters of the alphabet, A through Z. Now pretend you have superpowers. For each letter, write down something you “should” do that begins with that letter. Because of your superpowers, when you finish writing, you will wave your hand and everything on your list will be accomplished. So go a head and be extravagant with your should

Should you have something for every letter? You can decide.

Look back over your list. Ask yourself about the good things that happens when each of the “shoulds” gets done. When the “should” gets accomplished, something about it will make you happy. It might be little or it might be big.

On the right hand side of the page, use the ideas that come from the “shoulds” to write about things that make you happy.

You can write the second part, any way you want. You can make another list, write random thoughts, or explain something in detail. Every time something from your “should” list reminds you of something that makes you happy, write the happy part down.

For example… Imagine that for the letter “F” someone wrote, “Fix the roof.” The thing that makes them happy about having the roof fixed could be something like “getting the important chores finished” or “learning how to do something new.” (It depends on the person. It could be lots of things.)

When you have finished writing, go back over the page and draw stars by the best parts.

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 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: Put a Pillow Under It

by Nancy Casey

It’s common to sleep with a pillow under your head at night. Then your head rests on something soft and your neck is supported.

Lots of us use other nighttime pillows, too. A pillow between the knees or rolled up against the spine helps some people with back pain. People with injuries or aches often find it soothing to put a pillow under the part that hurts.

Lots of chairs have built-in pillows. Sometimes we add more: behind the low back and under the feet or wrists.

When you see images of someone healing from sickness or injury, you are likely to see pillows. Maybe you have been that person and you remember your pillows.

Pillows make life a tad easier. Bringing someone a pillow is often a gesture of kindness. In cartoon-heaven where everything is perfect, people wander around on billowy, pillowy clouds.

Today, write about the many different places you could and do put pillows.

Perhaps you will explain personal pillow discoveries and describe where you habitually put the pillows that give you comfort, either asleep or awake. Maybe you will tell about pillows that you have arranged for someone else.

You could also write about imaginary pillows. Can you think of a situation that would be a whole lot better for everyone involved if somehow a few pillows could be slipped under it?

Maybe you know someone who has something stressful and important coming up, like a job interview or a big exam. Maybe it’s someone who is having difficulties in their life. Maybe that “someone” is you, maybe not. Where could you put an imaginary pillow and how would it ease things along? If you could give the pillow special powers, what would they be?

Imagine all the different ways—big and small—you could change the world by adding pillows. Write about some of them.

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 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.