Write For You: Sleep Habits

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by Nancy Casey

Many different types of habits and rituals come and go from our lives, but the one habit that we have kept since the day we were born is the habit of sleeping.

Most of us sleep for at least a quarter of the day. Maybe a third. Maybe more. Every day.

Today, write about some of the things that you do that have to do with sleeping.

How do you know it’s time to sleep? Do you sleep at the same time every day? How do you get ready? What do you wear? Do you have favorite pillows and positions? Do you dread it or look forward to it? Do you take naps?

When we are asleep we lose most of our awareness of the world around us. But not all. Sometimes we have to roll over and adjust the pillow or the covers. All sorts of discomforts can intrude—from aches and pains to having to use the bathroom. Sometimes our sleeping selves listen for sounds made by others in the household. What kinds of things are you aware of, even when you are asleep?

Some people talk in their sleep. Others get out of bed and do things without waking up. Does that ever happen to you?

What is waking up like for you? Do you bolt out of bed at the first sign or wakefulness, or do you emerge in slow stages? If you use an alarm, how do you react to it? Do you have any habits or rituals about the way you transition from being asleep to being fully awake? What happens when they are disrupted?

What do you do when you go to bed and sleep doesn’t come? Some people get up and do something else until they are tired. Some people lay there and fret. Some people have restful and sleep-inducing practices that they do in their beds, such as breathing, counting, or reciting poems and prayers. Perhaps what you do when you can’t sleep depends on what you know you need to do the next day.

What do you do when your whole body wants to be asleep, but the situation says you can’t? Situations like driving, taking care of children, or being at work, for example. Are there situations that always make you want to sleep? What are you like when you don’t get enough sleep?

Even though everyone sleeps, sleeping patterns are personal and often unique. Pick one aspect of your sleeping life and describe it. Maybe you’ll fill a whole page writing about that one thing. Perhaps your page will look more like a list with many different details about your sleeping patterns. Maybe you will write about a dream you’ve had.

Whatever you end up writing, 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: Where’s the Fire?

by Nancy Casey

Fire is warm. It burns. It glows. It can smolder, or explode.

Write a page that describes some of the fires in your life.

What kind of fire keeps you warm as the season gets colder? Many different kinds of things can keep such fires going—wood, electricity, fossil fuels. Do different fires warm you in different ways throughout the day?

Where are the fires that cook your food?

Think about all the things that you see during the day that give off light. What is burning to make that light?

You burn energy inside your body, too. And people talk about neurons that “fire” when we think and act. Do you have a sense of those kinds of fires burning inside you?

Sometimes the word “fire” is used in a descriptive way. What burns inside a person who has a “firey personality?” What happens inside a conversation when it turns into a “firey exchange?”

Where are the flames when you feel a burning desire for something? What kind of spark causes a person to burn with rage? What catches fire when somebody or something “crashes and burns?”

What glows? What shines? Every time you aren’t engulfed in total frozen darkness, there has to be some kind of fire somewhere.

Write about some of the different fires that burn or have burned in your life. From the tiny fires that keep the inner and outer world going. To the big conflagrations that change everything at once. And all the medium-sized fires in between.

When you have filled a page, 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: Present and Past

by Nancy Casey

We often talk about the past and the present as if there is a clear dividing line between the two. Yet the past adds richness and depth to our present moments, so it’s never completely gone.

Today you will write a page that plays with the way the present and the past are braided up together.

Begin with the present. Take in your immediate surroundings. What objects are you aware of? What sounds do you hear? Can you detect any movement? What’s on your mind?

As soon as your awareness lands on something present in your world, write down what it is. It’s best to write whatever comes to mind first, rather than trying to come up with a “good idea.” Any idea will work. Write a line or two.

Then look up, look around, and let your awareness fall on something else that’s in the present tense for you. Drop down about 3 lines on the page and describe what you noticed.

Look up, notice something new, leave about 3 lines of space, and write that down. Fill the page this way—although the page won’t really be “full” because there is a lot of white space in it.

Change to a different color of pen.

Go back to the first thing you have written. In the blank space that follows add some information that has to do with the past.

Read the second thing you have written about the present. Add an idea that has something to do with the past.

Continue that way down the page, adding a thought about the past in the blank space after each thought from the present.

You will end up with a description of a series of present moments, along with some information about how each moment is woven into the past.

When you have finished, read over what you have written and 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: Ask About Your Surroundings

by Nancy Casey

Today, you are going to write questions, lots of questions. Questions you do not know the answer to. To think up questions, you will begin with your surroundings.

Look at something in front of you—whatever your glance happens to land on—and ask a question about it. Any question at all, as long as you don’t know the answer. If at first it seems like you can’t think up a question, give yourself time, a question will come to mind.

For example, if your glance happened to fall on a book, you might be able to ask a question like one of these: Where was it printed? What’s the tenth word on page 56? What is the author like? When will I get a chance to read it? Should I keep it or give it away? Who got it so dirty? How many minutes has it been sitting there?

Your question doesn’t have to be profound. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you. You aren’t obliged to find out the answer. Any old question will do.

You can ask a question that begins with: What if…? How many…? When…? Do…? Will…? Can…?

You can ask a question about the past, the present or the future.

Just look at something in front of you and ask a question about it. Then look at something else and ask another question. Fill up the page that way.

Sometimes when a person starts to do this, their mind begins to wander and they think up questions about things that aren’t in front of them. If that happens to you, write down those questions, too. When you run out of questions and don’t know what to ask next, look at something in front of you and ask a question about that.

When you have filled the page with questions, read them over. If there is space, and if there is time, and if you feel like it, draw the answer to one of the questions somewhere on the page.

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

Please 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: Live and Learn

by Nancy Casey

Begin with a blank sheet of paper and write the opening phrase, “I have learned…” As you write the words, something that you have learned in your life will occur to you. Finish off the sentence by writing down what it is.

Begin again. Write, “I have learned…” and add a line or two about something else you have learned.

You probably don’t have enough paper in your house to make a complete list of everything you’ve learned so far in your life!

We learn things all the time. Sometimes we do it so effortlessly that we fail to notice. You don’t cross the street until you learn whether or not there is traffic coming. You don’t order food at a restaurant until you learn what’s on the menu. As each day unfolds, we learn whether or not the events of the day match our expectations.

If you picture yourself as a newborn infant, it’s obvious that you have learned an awful lot about functioning as a human. When babies roll over for the first time, parents get excited. Newborns don’t speak—they haven’t even learned that they can! Long before anyone darkens the door of a school they have learned ever-so-many things—physically, psychologically, personally and socially.

As we seek contentment and satisfaction in our lives, there are many things we deliberately set out to learn—relationship skills, career strategies, conversation starters, dance moves, techniques in the arts and sports. In seeking happiness, we learn what makes us unhappy. Then we have to learn what to do with that knowledge.

In some cases, we are forced to learn. If you get hurt, you learn to make-do until you heal up—unless you are not going to heal up, in which case, you learn to do many things differently. Grief is the long process of learning to live alongside the pain of a loss. Changes in friendships and unexpected events can teach you to see yourself and the world differently. As humans, we observe and perceive all the time. We can’t help but learn.

Nobody is ever too old to learn. It’s easy to get excited for someone taking up gymnastics or skydiving at age eighty, but there’s more to learning than deliberately trying new things. Reflecting on the past and understanding the subtleties of your experience is a form of learning. Compassion and empathy grow inside us as we learn about others. Learning to have compassion for ourselves is a project of a lifetime.

So take yourself on a tour of some of the many things you have learned since you made your first appearance on the planet, and fill up a page with some of the things you discover.

When your page is 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.

To share what you have written you can 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: 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.