Combinations

by Nancy Casey

Today’s writing is a chance to play a word game. You might rattle around your vocabulary and pick out some words you haven’t used in awhile. Maybe what you write will sound like nonsense, or maybe it will clarify the way you think about something. You just don’t know what you are going to write until you have written it.

Begin by writing down an ordinary thought. Something true. A memory, an observation, a plan, a wish, a feeling, a conclusion—any one of those zillions of thoughts that pass through your mind in a day. Any old thought.

While your mind floats through possible ideas for beginning, set up your page. Draw a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration. Or draw a border around the page.

Then write down your opening thought. A few lines. A sentence or two. Something short.

Here is the word game: Pick a word from the thought you have just written and begin a new thought that fits this pattern: “_______ (your word) is a combination of ­­______ and ______ .” (two new words)

You can say anything, as long as you think it’s true. You could write that water is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Or you could write that water is a combination of wet and cold. If it makes sense to you, you could even write something like, “Water is a combination of old and vast.”

After the “combination” sentence, write a line or two that expands or explains that thought a little bit. If you get stuck, try using words like because, for example, or if.

Pause and reread the thought you just wrote down. Choose one word—any word—and begin a new thought with “_______ (your word) is a combination of ­­______ and ______ .” (two new words)

Explain a little bit about that thought. After a few lines, pause, choose a word and begin again with the “combination”  sentence.

Follow the same pattern all the way down the page.

When you have finished writing, reread your work. Put something decorative on the page if you like. When an idea for a title pops into your mind, write it on the line at the top of the page. Write the date on your work and sign it.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image. 


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Alphabet Salad

by Nancy Casey

Today you will begin with the alphabet. After that, it’s hard to guess what you’ll write next.

Draw a line at the top to reserves space for your title, although you can’t possibly know what the title ought to be until you have finished writing the page.

Directly under that line, up close and almost touching it, write the letters of the alphabet, A to Z. They will serve as a hand reference for you as you write.

Put a dot on the page that’s half-way down, or a little further. The dot will remind you to make a change when you get to it.

You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration.

Starting at the top, underneath the letters of the alphabet, write a word that begins with A. Next to it, a word that begins with B. After that, one that begins with C. And so forth, 26 words all the way to Z.

What you write doesn’t have to “make sense”. It only matters that the words go from A to Z. When you get to Z, start with A again. Keep going like that until you get to the dot.

Note that nobody said you have to write “real” words. Use the first word that comes to mind rather than trying to think up a perfect one. If no word comes to mind, make one up! It’s okay to have words like “quberpy” or “kzzl” if words like that are what you come up with.

When you get to the dot, pause your writing and draw a decorative border that runs all the way across the page. Read over all the words you have written. Alternate between reading and doodling on the decorative border until the border looks good and you remember what a lot of the words are.

In the remaining space, write a story (or something) that is made up of words from the top of the page. You can use other words, too, of course. Let the story tell itself without being overly concerned with the logic of it. It’s okay if it spills out like a big word salad.

When the page is full, look it over carefully, top and bottom, and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page. Sometimes you can find a title that makes “sense” out of it all.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


If you would like to make a page like this in the company of other people, join us at the Latah Recovery Center from 4-5 PM on Tuesdays. After we’ve made a page together, we do other exercises, and (optionally) share our work. For a calm and supportive early-evening time, join us at 4:00, and then stick around for the art class that begins at 5:00.


Curious about what writing can do for you? Taking a poetry class is a fun way to experiment. Poetry for Recovery is an online class that will meet 4 Thursdays, starting July 22. If you are interested, ontact Nancy 


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

A Talking Object

by Nancy Casey

To begin your work today, select an object in your living space to use in your writing. A thing. You don’t have to be able to see it or touch it. You just have to know it is there.

When you write, you will write from the point of view of that object, that is, you will write as if the object is talking.

As you write, have the object tell something about its life. Maybe its entire history. Maybe a story from before it came into your life. Or something you did together. Maybe it has plans, emotions, or grudges. You can have the object “say“ anything. It can “talk” however you want to make it talk.

As the object “speaks” it must say at least one thing about you. It might mention you once in passing. Or it could also turn out that the object has lots to say about you. That’s up to you, of course, because you are the one who decides what this object will say.

Not only can you be creative by pretending you are a talking object, you can be creative with the object’s voice. It can talk baby talk or like a gangster. Will its voice be dreamy, authoritative, or harsh? Maybe the perfect voice for a talking object will come into your mind gradually as you write.

Think about these things as you set up a page. Draw a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration.

Then pick an object and go. You don’t have to know what the object will “say” before you start writing. Thoughts will come to you. And if they don’t, doodle a bit until they do. One idea will lead to another one.

When you feel like you’ve written enough, stop. If there’s still room on the page, fill it with drawing or decoration. When the page is completely full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


If you would like to make a page like this in the company of other people, join us at the Latah Recovery Center from 4-5 PM on Tuesdays. After we’ve made a page together, we do other exercises, and (optionally) share our work. For a calm and supportive time that will ease you into the evening, join us at 4:00, and then stick around for the art class that begins at 5:00.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

How to Make a Fort

by Nancy Casey

When you write today, these are the first words you’ll put on the page: “Well, you could make a fort out of…”

The word well signals a bit of hesitancy. It says, Maybe this isn’t the most brilliant idea in the world, but at least I wrote something.

In other words, starting with “Well, …” gives you the freedom to say any old thing. It can turn out to be ridiculous, obvious, or brilliantly clever. You won’t be able to tell until after you’ve written it down and written more stuff after that. So just dive in and write any old thing at all.

What could you make a fort out of? What is a fort, anyway? Who makes them and why?

You don’t necessarily have to answer those questions, but once you write down what a fort could be made of, some kind of fort will start to take shape in your imagination. As you start to “see” the fort you are imagining, you could write more things about it if you like. Or you could change the subject and start to imagine a different fort.

Before you do any writing, set up your page. Draw a line at the top of the page where the title will go so you are certain to have a place to put it when you have finished writing. Set aside some space for drawing or doodling if you like. Or just start drawing and wait for the urge to write to hit you.

You don’t have to think up any ideas ahead of time. Try to keep your whole mind floating through both realistic and ridiculous ways a fort could be made. When you have written, “Well, you could make a fort out of…” something will pop up. Even if it seems completely goofy, write it down and take it from there.

When the page is full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


If you would like to make a page like this in the company of other people, join us at the Latah Recovery Center from 4-5 PM on Tuesdays. After we’ve made a page together, we do other exercises, and (optionally) share our work. For a calm and supportive early-evening time, join us at 4:00, and then stick around for the art class that begins at 5:00.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Where is the Writing Class?

by Nancy Casey

Good news! In-person writing classes will start again at the Recovery Center—today!

The class will meet every Tuesday from 4 to 5 PM. When you participate in the class, you will be writing one page. Later on during the week, if you choose, you can extend what you did in class. Or not.

In each class, we will work together to create one page, the page that is described here in each week’s writing prompt.

So join us at the Latah Recovery Center at 4 on Tuesdays when we will write together. As an added bonus, attending the writing class will put you in the perfect frame of mind to attend the art class that starts at 5.

Here’s what we will work on today:

Everything and everybody is somewhere, but where? Everything that happens, happens somewhere, but where? Sometimes you know and sometimes you don’t.

Today, write a series of sentences that all begin “I know where…”

You can describe the location of objects. (I know where my keys are.) You can refer to the location where something happened. (I know where the train derailed.) Maybe you will think about people, pets or plants. Or stars and constellations. You can write about anything at all, as long as you know where it is.

You can give as much information as you like about whatever you identify, except for one thing: don’t tell where it is.

For instance, if you know where a certain car is, you can describe anything and everything about the car, where it has been in the past, adventures you might have had in it, scratches and dents it has acquired. But don’t say where the car is now.

You don’t have to limit yourself to the mere locations of objects. When you write about where something happened, for instance, you find yourself using words that describe actions: landed… ran… spilled… grew… ate… laughed… 

As you reflect on all the different places where things can happen or people and objects can be, set up your page. Draw a line at the top of the page where the title will go so you are certain to have a place to put it when you have finished writing. Set aside some space for drawing or doodling, too, if you like.

Begin your writing with the words, “I know where…” and notice what pops into you mind as you finish writing the word where. Even if you planned to write something else, if you write about that thing that just popped into your head, you will probably find that your writing will end up more surprising and interesting than you might have thought.

Each time you finish with one thought, begin a new thought by writing the words, “I know where…” again and see what flows into your mind this time.

When the page is full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea makes its way to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you can’t make it to class but would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Ah, Chores…

by Nancy Casey

Chores are jobs that we do for ourselves. Sometimes little, sometimes big. Sometimes we like them and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we dread them, but we usually like it when they are done. Today, write about one or more of the chores that you do.

Get started by thinking about all the work that gets done by you on your own behalf. Indoor chores and outdoor ones. Seasonal chores, like shoveling snow or weeding a garden. Washing-and-cleaning chores: clothes, fingernails, furniture, the floor.

Morning chores. Evening chores. Chores for special occasions.

What jobs do you do for yourself because you know that nobody is going to magically appear and do them for you?

Maybe you do chores on behalf of others. If you live with other people, you might have agreements about chores. If you have children, one of your chores might be to teach them how to do their chores.

As you reflect on all the different things you have to say about chores, set up your page. Draw a line at the top of the page where the title will go so you are certain to have a place to put it when you have finished writing. Set aside some space for drawing or doodling if you like.

If you can’t decide what to write, begin by scribbling or drawing. That can help your mind relax so you can think more clearly. When a thought about chores pops into your mind, write it down and see where it takes you. Don’t be too fussy about how you start. One idea usually leads to another one.

You can explain what the chore is, how you do it, why it’s important, whether you like to do it or not–whatever comes to mind.

When you feel like you’ve written enough, stop. If there’s still room on the page, fill it with drawing or decoration.

When the page is full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Arriving Home

by Nancy Casey

What is “home”? What does it mean to “arrive” there? How do you do that and what does it feel like?” There are only about a zillion different ways to answer these questions, so take a moment to consider how they could apply to you.

Set up your page in the usual way: Draw a line across the top where you can write the title on it when you are finished. Draw a border you can decorate, or set aside some other kind of space for doodling or drawing if you like.

For some people, “home” refers to a physical place with doors and a roof. For others it’s a certain spot in their living space: where they sleep, what they like to look at. Or maybe it’s something to hear. Home isn’t always defined by one’s living space, though. What is it that “puts you right at home?”

People also refer to “home” as a state of mind, a type of attitude or sense of ease. What does it mean to be “at home in your own skin?” Are there things that someone else can do that make you “feel right at home?”

“Arriving home” is often a moment. Or maybe it’s a process. It has something to do with changing from a person who is not at home into a person who is. Sometimes what it’s like to “arrive home” depends a lot on where you have been.

Maybe “arriving” involves coming through a door or getting out of a car. Maybe it’s all about cooking something or sitting somewhere. Perhaps it comes along with the presence of someone else—a person or a pet. Maybe it happens entirely in your mind. “Arriving home” can be something you do or something you observe. It’s the thing that makes someone say to themselves, “Ah, I’m here.”

Begin by letting your mind roam over the many meanings of “home.” Without thinking about it too hard, pick one and start describing it. Explain where it is and how you can tell when you get there.

You might find yourself writing about specific details of a physical place. Or your ideas could center on memories, imagination or feelings. Lots of people switch back and forth.

When you have filled the page, look back carefully over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Doodle around some more with the decorative aspects if you like. A title often pops into people’s mind as they look back over the whole thing.

Write your title at the top of the page. Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Summer’s Moment

by Nancy Casey

If you live in the northern hemisphere, the long passage through fall, winter and spring can make you completely forget the way the summer feels. Then there comes a moment, usually in May or June, when it hits you: Summer! This is the way that summer feels.

Today in your writing, describe a moment when the reality of the summer hits you, when summer stops being an idea and becomes the season you are living in.

As you gather your writing materials and set up your page take note of the season. Draw a line at the top where your title will go and set off some space for illustration. As yourself, Is it summer yet? How can I tell?

For some people, the signal for summer is in the temperature. Whether you like it or not it’s hot out! But with air conditioning, some people experience it as a season of cold.

Sunburn, allergies, bug bites, dehydration, bear attacks–maybe summer feels like a harrowing and dangerous season to you.

A person’s employment picture often changes in summer–new hours, new co-workers, new tasks, a period of unemployment or a brand new job. Summer sometimes makes a person’s job satisfaction rise or fall.

From crickets to songbirds, summer brings a raft of new natural sounds. Open a window and you might hear the sounds of human voices and lawn mowers. The outdoors smells different–and maybe the indoors, too. People-watching might return as a forgotten fascination.

A household might have a new organization for summer, too. Warm clothes and bedding might get packed away. Maybe lawn furniture emerges. Perhaps new cooking habits are in order. Maybe there’s different stuff stacked by the door.

Are there places that you only go in summer? Are you more likely to linger on the street, drive with your windows down, or ride a skateboard? Does summer draw you to mountains, water, sun or shade?

What kind of detail in your inner or outer world announces to you that it is summer?

Today, write about one or more of these signals that summer has come. Begin with an event or a moment. You could start with something like, “When…, it really hit me that summer is here.”Or your first sentence could be something like, “It felt like summer all of a sudden when…” 

Let your writing flow with the thoughts that come into your mind as you rifle through your observations and memories of that wow-it’s-summer feeling.

When you stop to think, draw or doodle on the page. Ideas come to some people when they draw. Other people get new ideas while staring into space–or the backs of their eyelids. Do what works best for you.

When the page is full, draw on it a bit if you like. Think up a title and write it at the top of the page. Write the date and a signature on the page also.

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 take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Questions Upon Questions

by Nancy Casey

To begin today’s writing, you must come up with a question that you don’t know the answer to. That shouldn’t be hard. There are an infinite number of them, maybe even more.

Set up your page by drawing a line at the top of the page where the title will go so don’t have to ask yourself, “Where the heck do I put the title?” after your page is all filled up.

You can add a border to the page if you like, or set off a space where you can draw and doodle while you think up what to write next.

Write down a question—one question, a question that you don’t know the answer to.

Choose one word from your question and write down another question that has that word in it. Again, it must be a question you don’t know the answer to.

After that, pick a word from the new question and use it to think up another question.

Keep going down the page like that. Always ask questions that you don’t know the answer to. Always use a word from the previous question in the next question that you ask.

Help your mind shift over to question mode by thinking about all the different words you can use to frame a question. The ones that begin with W, for instance: Who? What? When? Where? Why?

There is a whole family of questions that begin with How: How much? How many? How big? How full? How on earth? How come?

There aren’t any special words for starting out yes-or-no questions, but many of them begin with one of these: Isn’t…? Should…? Will…? Aren’t…? Did…? May I…?

Whole families of questions spring up from the word if. If something does or doesn’t happen, what will or won’t happen next?

Let your mind wander through your personal version of the vast unknown. There’s no danger of running out of questions. Even though the questions will be linked together by the word that they share, you might surprise yourself by how many different subjects you have questions about. Or it could turn out that the surprise will be that you can ask so many questions about one subject.

Eventually your page will fill up. When it does, take a careful look at what you have written and make small changes if you like. Add some illustration if you feel like it. Think up a title and write it at the top of the page, along with your signature and the date.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image. 


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Where’s the Fire?

by Nancy Casey

What comes to mind when you hear the word fire? Someone striking a match? Losing a job? Discharging a weapon?

When you plug in a coffee maker, what kind of fire heats the water? Where’s the fire that can make your phone hot to the touch? What kind of fire burns the back of your legs when you hop into a hot car on a summer day?

What do people mean when they talk about the fire in somebody’s eyes? Is there a flame somewhere if a person is burning up with fever? What is someone like when they are all fired up?

How many songs can you think of that have the word fire in the lyrics?

Fire makes its way into many metaphors and images that we use to describe other things. A firey personality, for example. Or when someone complains of spending the whole day putting out fires. What kind of burn might you get if someone accuses you of playing with fire?

Write a page today that begins with the notion of fire.

You can consider the literal ones, such as campfires, forest fires, candles, or the flame that comes out of the back end of a rocket.

You might consider the techno-fires that provide the energy for powering engines and electronics.

Maybe you will recall a time that something significant to you burned up. (What kind of fire burns a bridge?)

Perhaps you will decide to write about something that fire represents.

As you gather your materials for writing, cast about your imagination and experience until you locate a fire or two.

Draw a line at the top of the page where the title will go so you are certain to have a place to put it when you have finished writing.

Begin writing by describing a fire. Perhaps you will fill the whole page with a single fire, or maybe you will end up writing about several.

If you get stuck, doodle or draw on the page to encourage your mind to relax and think more clearly. Or illustrate your page after you have finished writing and wait for a good title idea to float to the surface of your mind.

Write your title at the top of the page. Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Whatever you do, don’t burn your work!

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, or just some encouragement,  contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.