What’s New?

by Nancy Casey

What’s new and different in your life lately? These virus times have brought most of us new concerns and routines. New understandings and knowledge. New beginnings. New ways of problem-solving. New connections. New distances.

It’s overwhelming when everyone is cast into such newness at once. But newness isn’t new. Every day, every moment is new. Even if we tend not to notice.

As you set up your page, think about what’s new in your life lately. Have you had new thoughts? Have you noticed anything recently that you never really noticed before? What new things are you doing these days? Are you learning new kinds of information?

The page setup takes a while. Do it slowly and think about what’s new to you lately. Big things and little ones, related to the virus and not.

Draw the usual line at the top of your page where the title will go. Then divide the remainder of the page into four equal sections by drawing a vertical line and a horizontal line. Inside each of the four sections, draw a pretty-big rectangle. Plan to write inside the rectangles and draw or decorate the rest of the space.

Label each rectangle, using these four headings:

Think – Notice – Do – Information

In each of the rectangles write down what’s new to you in that category. Don’t force yourself to think specifically about the virus, and don’t avoid thinking about it either. Do notice where your mind tends to go and encourage it to go other places as well.

Skip around and gradually fill the page. Write inside the rectangles. Doodle around the outside of the rectangles. Until the page is full.

Read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add more color or decoration to the page if you want to. When you are satisfied with the page, give it a title and write the date on it, too.

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. She occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

 

Oh! The Things That Grow!

by Nancy Casey

The more you look for things that are growing, the more growing things you will find.

Your mission today, in order to write your page, is to notice what’s growing.

You could begin by going outdoors into the spring day and taking a short walk, noticing all the particular types of growing that is happening around you. You could also notice spring growth by parking yourself near a window, or a houseplant.

You don’t have to limit yourself to plants, though. Or animals. Or even the outdoors. Is anything growing in your refrigerator? If you have hair, it’s growing.

Check in with your senses. Can you hear any sounds growing? Are there sensations on your skin that can grow? When something aromatic gets near your nose, what grows?

What grows when you grow drowsy?

Thoughts and ideas can grow in your imagination. They get bigger on their own when our store of information grows. They also grow when they connect to each other. What thoughts have been growing in your mind lately?

Feelings grow, too. Can you find words to describe how feelings like anger or acceptance grow in your mind and body? What grows so big inside you that you laugh? What has to grow so you can make a decision?

Roll the idea of growing around in your mind while you gather your writing tools and prepare your page to write. Draw a line where the title will go and set off a space for a drawing or two. Before you begin to write, wander somewhere.

You can wander physically by going from one random spot to another, indoors or out. You can stay in your chair and pretend you are the camera on a mosquito-sized drone exploring your surroundings. You can send an imaginary drone inside yourself to cruise around and notice what’s going on in your body and mind.

As you wander, ask, “What’s growing?”

When you notice something growing, write down what it is, how it grows and why you know it is growing.

You might fill the whole page by writing about one single thing. Or your page could turn out to look more like a list. Maybe you would rather draw what you notice growing, so that drawing takes up most of the page and there are only a few words on it.

Regardless of how your page fills up, look everything over when you are finished. Make small changes if you want to. Give your work a title and write the date on it, too.

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. She looks forward to having  Write-For-You classes in person again at the Recovery Center. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

 

Start With Squiggles

by Nancy Casey

When you have a writing practice, it doesn’t really matter what you write. The only thing that matters is that you fill up the page. Sometimes you will startle yourself with how brilliant you are. Other times you will say, “Meh. Why am even doing this?”

Even a lackluster page is a good page because you mind is working in the background, rolling over what you did and didn’t write, knitting the details together and making you a little bit more grounded.

For today’s writing, you will start with nonsense and see where it might take you.

What writing could be more nonsensical than random squiggles?

Draw a line at the top of the page where your title will go. Then scatter a half dozen or so random squiggles evenly across the page.

Do any of them remind you of anything? A face? A bunny? A puddle? A shoe?

Pick one of the squiggles and add something to it. You could put more lines to complete the drawing. Or give it a cartoon bubble so it can say something. Or write what it is (or isn’t) next to it.

Do this for each one of the squiggles.

If you have a squiggle that is absolutely meaningless to you, add another squiggle to it and see if it turns into anything.

Don’t think very hard. Just keep messing around until your page is full.

Maybe you will end up with a page that has people or objects talking to each other. Maybe each tiny drawing will be its own masterpiece. Maybe your page will look like spaghetti with worms. Perhaps you will like some parts more than others. It doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that you sat down with your writing materials and filled up a page.

Look over the whole page. Keep adding to the drawings or writing more words until something occurs to you that somehow connects everything together. That will be your title. Or the idea for your title. Write a title at the top of the page along with the date.

Take a moment to think about what this writing was like. We easily recognize “writing” when we see a wall of orderly words on a page. This page shows you how writing can be random and disorderly, too.

Whatever you write, you mind will keep working on it, creating order, making sense, and reminding you who you are.

Even after you put the page away. Even when you are asleep.

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. She occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

 

What You Miss

by Nancy Casey

Here we are, all of us, adjusting to the New Abnormal.

A lot of people have new habits. Some are talking about new things. People are feeling uncomfortable emotions. Thoughts are different. Relationships have changed. A zillion things are new in people’s lives. Many of them are things we don’t like very much.

Today in your writing, you will be thinking about how it used to be.

Ask yourself:

What did I have in my life a month or so ago that I wish I still had now?

Then ask yourself:

What did I like about that?

When you take up your writing tools, write about what you miss.  Tell what it is and what it was like. Write what you liked about it.

Your mind might be eager to chime in with what’s crummy and rotten about not having this thing that you miss, or other things you worry about losing, but don’t write those things down.

If the gloomy thoughts come, sort them out by asking yourself:

What’s been taken away from me? What do I miss? Why did I like that?

You might find yourself writing about just one of the wonderful things that you used to have that you can’t have right now, or you might write about many. Explain how it was and what was good about it.

Don’t forget to illustrate.  You can make your page have more pictures than words if you want to. Doodling relaxes your mind. Sometimes a cartoon is the best explanation.

Fill up one page. How long does it take you? If you feel like it takes too long, consider writing with a fatter pen.

When the page is finished read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. If the page is filled with drawing, add a few words.

When you are satisfied with the page, give it a title and write the date on it, too.

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. She occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

 

Not A Virus

by Nancy Casey

There’s a virus going around. It’s almost everywhere. This is the same as saying that it’s not everywhere.

Perhaps you are home alone. Perhaps you are home alone with too many people. Maybe you are sick. Maybe you can’t stay home because other people need you too much. Maybe you are angry.

Maybe you are worried about money. Maybe you are worried about people you love. Maybe you are worried about people you don’t even know. Maybe you are scared.

You are probably thinking about this whole situation a lot. Even if you don’t know what to think.

Today in your writing, think about something else.

Your mission today is to write down thoughts, observations, memories and other ideas that have absolutely nothing to do with this pandemic that we find ourselves in the middle of.

Maybe you will make a list. You could also tell one long story, or write notes for a few shorter ones. You can use the alphabet. Or colors. Restrict yourself to writing down things that are true.

You could start with the weather. You could tell the story of an object (or several) in your home. You can recall an event from when you were half the age that you are now. You can explain how gravity or a dishwasher work.

Write anything, as long as it has nothing to do with this scary disease and all of the things about it that are out of your control.

If you start writing about something unrelated to the virus, you are likely to be reminded of the virus somehow. Don’t write that part down. Your pen is easier to discipline than your mind. But your pen can show your mind that all thoughts don’t have to lead to virus thoughts.

A couple of things will happen when you do this.

  • Writing, just writing—pushing your pen across the page—will make you a little bit calmer than you’d be if you weren’t writing.
  • Inside your own personal universe, the space that is not-virus will grow. Your actions and decisions will be informed by this space.
  • Someday in the future you will look back at this page and remember this time. You will like what you have written. It will remind you of doing your best. It will make you appreciate yourself more.

So get out the writing stuff. Draw a line across the page where the title will go. Leave a little bit of space for a drawing. Get to work.

It’s one positive thing you can do today. And it won’t take very long.

After you have filled a page, read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. When you are satisfied with the page, give it a title and write the date on it, too.

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. More than anything else, she hopes you are being good to yourself. She looks forward to the time that Write-For-You classes can start up in person again at the Recovery Center. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

 

Don’t Run Out!

by Nancy Casey

By now you’ve probably seen the of images of empty shelves in stores. Or heard lots of jokes about hoarding toilet paper. Maybe you have done some stocking up. It’s perfectly reasonable not to want to run out of things that are important to you.

What don’t you want to run out of?

Think about that as you set up your page for a bit of writing. Draw a line at the top where the title will go, and set off a space for doodling or illustration.

What matters to you in your life?

There are material things, of course. Most people care about food, shelter and clothing. Food gets consumed and you will always need more. Clothing wears out or becomes wrong for the season, or sometimes you just don’t like what you have anymore and want new things. Running out of shelter entirely is a tragedy, and you also don’t want to run out of the things that make your shelter clean, sturdy and comfortable.

What specific things in the food, shelter, and clothing departments don’t you want to run out of?

Beyond the basics, there are other material things that we want to have in our lives—art supplies, technology, gasoline, potting soil, novels, candy… The list is endless, and nobody should be ashamed of what they want.

There are also non-material things that we don’t want to drain from our lives. Affection, perhaps? Laughter? Information? Understanding? What invisible things would cause you a visible or invisible wound if they left your life and never came back?

Write about what you don’t want to run out of today. To get started, you can use a sentence in the form of:

I don’t want to run out of ­­­______, because….

You can then explain why this thing is important for you. You might also want to expand a bit and tell what you do to make sure you don’t run out of it. Or tell a story about how much you didn’t like it when you did run out of this thing.

Maybe you will write about one thing. Perhaps you will write about many.

Different things are important to different people. Noticing what you don’t want to disappear from your life can help give you direction. It can also help you better understand yourself, your situation, and your motivations.

After you have filled a page, read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. When you are satisfied with the page, give it a title and write the date on it, too.

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. She occasionally teaches a Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Opposite and Opposite

by Nancy Casey

Draw a line at the top of your page to save room for a title. Set aside a bit of space for drawing or doodling. Then write a sentence. About 10 or 15 words long.

It can be any sentence: a remark about your surroundings, something entirely made up, a memory, a wish—anything you think of.

One by one, consider the words that you have written. What is the opposite of each word? For some words, you might have to stretch your imagination a bit to come up with an opposite. Other words might not have opposites at all.

Pick out a word that is the opposite of one of the words in that first sentence, and weave that word into your second sentence somehow. Your second sentence can be about anything at all. You don’t have to make it connect to the first sentence unless you want to.

Consider the individual words of the second sentence and choose one of their opposites to use in your third sentence. Write the third sentence however you want.

Keep going like that. Work your way down the page writing sentences so that each sentence contains a word that is the opposite of one of the words in the sentence before it.

Write down whatever occurs to you. It’s not necessary to try to make the sentences all go together in a story or “make sense” somehow. You really can’t plan ahead. It’s more important to think about the interesting opposite words, notice the sentences that pop into your mind, and write one down when it seems like a good one to you.

When the page is full, go back over what you have written. Make small changes if you need to. Do the opposite words stand out very much? Did your writing turn out to be “about” something, even though you were writing somewhat random sentences?

Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. When you are satisfied with the page, give it a title and write the date on it, too. 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. She taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

So Many Opinions

by Nancy Casey

You can’t know everything. Nobody can. Even if you take every fact that everyone on the planet knows and put them together, all sorts of things would remain unknown.

We fill in the gaps with our opinions. When you pay attention to your opinions, you understand yourself and grow. Today, write about some of your opinions—what they are and where they come from.

Set up your page so that there will be space for a title and some room for illustration. If you are of the opinion that you have nothing to write about, doodle in the illustration space until ideas start to come to you.

Some opinions have to do with taste: what you like and don’t like, what you think is beautiful or ugly. When something bores you or excites you, it’s because of opinions you hold.

Almost everything you think about the future is an opinion. Things you hope will or won’t happen. Your ideas about how future events will unfold. As the future becomes the present, those opinions could change or get stronger.

Your experience is a source of opinions, too. Whether you consider memories to be happy, sad, or confusing comes from your experience. So do a lot of ideas about whether a course of action is a good one or not.

We get our opinions from other people, too. Sometimes we adopt their opinions because we admire or respect them. Sometimes we form an opinion because of the emotions others show when they speak or act. Sometimes we observe people—friends and strangers alike—and opinions grow out of what we notice.

Take stock of your immediate surroundings. Travel backwards in memory through the events of the day so far. Consider what you have been watching, reading, listening to, and thinking about. You’ll start noticing your opinions. Write about them.

Tell what your opinion is. Explain, if you can, where the opinion comes from. Are there facts or information involved? Other people? Your experience? Your taste? They are your opinions. You can write anything you want about them.

After you have filled a page, read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. When you are satisfied with what you’ve done, give the page a title. Write your initials and the date on it, too.

When you finish, you’ll have an opinion about what you wrote. The more you notice your opinions, the better and more interesting they get.

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. She taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Can’t. Because…

by Nancy Casey

There are lots of things you can’t do, and lots of different reasons why.

Maybe you don’t want to. Maybe you don’t know how. Maybe you know how, but it’s beyond your physical abilities. Maybe it’s not humanly possible. Maybe someone or something is preventing you.

Whatever the reasons, there are gazillions of things you can’t do. Write about some of them today.

Set up your page first. Draw a line at the top where the title will go and set aside some space to draw or doodle while you are thinking.

Begin your first sentence with, “I can’t …” Then continue on to describe something that you can’t do. Then write the word “because”  and explain why you can’t do it.

Maybe this thing you can’t do is so complicated that it will take your entire page to write about it. If not, and there is still room on the page, describe something else that you can’t do and explain why you can’t do it.

Continue writing about what you can’t do and the reasons why until you have filled the page.

Read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. When you are satisfied with the page, give it a title and write the date on it, too.

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. She taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Heart of the Matter

by Nancy Casey

Begin by writing a word or a phrase in the center of your page. Any word. It can be an idea that you have been thinking about, something from your surroundings, or simply the first thing that pops into your mind.

Draw a heart around it.

From the heart draw a spiral, a long circular line that goes round and round until it reaches the edge of the page. You will be writing on this line. Knowing that will help you gauge how far apart the lines should be from each other as they circle round and round. As you get close to the top of the page, don’t let the line go all the way to the edge. Leave some space where you can put a title when you have finished writing.

Starting at the center of the spiral and starting with the word or phrase in the heart, write one long sentence that fills up the whole long line of the spiral, all the way out to the end. It will be a long and convoluted sentence, but that’s okay.

To keep your sentence stretching longer and longer, use connector words like because, unless, which, until, whenever, although, nevertheless, however, and so forth. Keep adding to your sentence until you run out of space to write on. You will probably have to spin the page round and round as you write. Don’t go back and read what you have written until you get to the very end.

When you have run out of room to write, bring your sentence to a close and then return to the beginning and read it. Make small changes if you would like to. Add color or decoration, too, if you think your page needs it.

In some ways, your overly-long sentence will seem strange and disconnected. Did it turn out to be “about” anything in any way? Is the phrase inside the heart really “the heart of the matter?” You are the only one who really knows.

See if you can make up a title that connects everything together somehow. Put your initials and the date on the finished page.

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. She taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.