In the News

Shadows

by Nancy Casey

Today in your writing, you will be challenged to notice objects in the world, but instead of describing the thing itself, you will describe its shadow.

Unless we are trying to see something in good light, or perhaps if we are seeking shade on a sunny day, we tend not to pay a whole lot of attention to shadows. Wherever there is light, however, shadows are cast. Look for the shadows around you.

If the light is bright, shadows are clear and well-defined. What color are they? Not exactly gray or black. What other colors faintly appear? (Neither gray nor black is a color in the rainbow. Gray and black are made by combining several colors. Brown, too.)

When the light is faint, shadows are still there.  Look at the edges or cracks where an object touches the floor or another object. Is there a shadow in there? What shape is it?

Notice places where two shadows combine. Shadows inside shadows. What can you say about those?

Take a look at something that seems pretty uniform in color. The floor perhaps, or a wall, maybe a piece of furniture. Snow. A cloud. A road. The more you look, the less the color seems uniform. Are some of the different shades caused by shadow? What do those shadows look like?

You can set up your own shadows with a lamp or flashlight. Arrange objects around it for the fun of seeing what kinds of shadows they cast. Fool around with them. Make a “shadow play.”

As you set up your page, shift your mind over to the idea of shadows. Draw a line at the top where the title will go. Set off a space for illustration, or draw a frame around the whole page that you can decorate later if you like.

When your page is ready, sit for a moment and take in the shadows around you. As you notice a shadow you never paid much attention to before, begin writing. Describe it however you like. If there’s still room on the page, look around for another one. Keep describing shadows until the page is full.

Go back over your work. Make small changes if you want to. Add more decoration if there is room. If you have made a drawing, you can add shadows to it and notice what effect that has.

Think up a title. 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. It’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center at this time, but if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

A Story From Your Life

by Nancy Casey

A story can be just about anything that you tell someone else or yourself. A story from your life? That can be just about anything, too.

Some stories are about the past. They might begin with “Once…” or “I remember when…”

A story about the future might begin “Someday…” or “Tomorrow…” or even, “I would like it if…”

A story that centers on a place could start out, “This is the place where…”

Some stories begin with action. They start out by telling what you or someone else was, is, or will be doing.

A lot of stories have a high drama—confrontation, danger, tragedy, scary and overwhelming stuff.

Even more stories are kind of boring, or they might seem that way. If you tell the story of a time when nothing happened, it will turn out interesting somehow anyway.

Today in your writing, tell a story from your life. Any story, as long as it fits on a single page. Think about the huge range of big and little stories you have to choose from as you set up your page.

Draw a line at the top where the title will go. (Don’t decide on a title until the end, though.) Leave aside some room for illustration.

Draw a tiny dot in the very middle of the page.

Begin writing.

(If you can’t think of a story right away, start by describing something near you or an object that you remember. Anything. Make some comments about it. Some kind of a story will begin to latch onto it…)

Regardless of how your story unrolls from your pen, when you arrive at the dot in the middle of the page, stop for a minute. Reread what you’ve written so far. Think about what’s left to tell in the story and notice how much space you have left.

You might need to squeeze or stretch your story to get it to fit on the page. That’s okay, even if it changes the story from the one you started with. Can you bring the story to a close so that the very last word that fits on the page is also the last word of the story?

Read over the whole story and draw or doodle on the page while you think about it. See if you can coax a good title into your mind.

Write the 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. It’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center at this time, but if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Well-made Things

by Nancy Casey

When something breaks or malfunctions, it grabs our attention. When it does exactly what it is supposed to do, we are often less aware of it.

Today is a chance to sing praise for the well-made things in your life. The objects that are reliable, whose performance makes your life possible, easy or pleasant. Look around youself and draw your attention to them.

Consider the tools you use to carry out the tasks of your everyday life, at work and at play. Do you make use of any machines that are so reliable you forget they are there? Do you have certain skills which give you insight into what makes certain objects well-made?

Some objects are well-made for you, whether by accident or by design. Do you have a favorite piece of furniture, cup, or article of clothing? What features have been built-in to make it right for you?

If your gaze or touch is often drawn to a piece of art, it is well-made somehow. Ask yourself why. Music is that way, too. Can you identify any music that is well-made for your taste? What about other forms of entertainment?

A three-dimensional space can also be well-made. A living space that is organized for your convenience is well-made. The “systems” you use to organize your possessions—clothing, office supplies, recycling—can be well-made. Are there any well-made public spaces that appeal to you?

Any time or any place that you can notice that somebody’s effort has contributed to making life a little better, there is something well-made involved. Look around for some of those well-made things and describe one or more of them today.

There’s no requirement that the world be perfect. There are plenty of not-so-well-made things all around us, and we get by. The well-made things are kind of special. Applaud them today!

Leave room for a title at the top of the page before you start writing, but don’t actually decide on your title until after you have filled up the page and looked over your work.

Illustrate your work, too, if you like. In general, when people look back on their pages later, they like the ones with a little illustration on them the best. Even if the drawings seemed goofy or inept at the time.

When you are completely satisfied with your page, put your initials or signature on it, along with 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. It’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center at this time, but if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Landscapes of Life

by Nancy Casey

Living a life is like traveling through a landscape. Hills and valleys, blind turns, unexpected gardens…

Today’s exercise is a chance to imagine what would belong on a map with the title “Landscape of Life.” You can consider your own life, or a part of your life. You can consider all the things you have learned so far about life in general. Notice as many features as you can that a life or a part-of-a-life might have: companions, emotions, events, decisions…

At the same time, think about the kinds of features that might show up on a map: countries, oceans, mountains, deserts, cities, buildings, animal habitat, furniture, buried treasure… Lakes, crosswalks, bike lanes, living things, washing machines. You name it, you can turn it into a feature on a map.

In your imagination, combine life features with map features and draw them. For instance, you could draw in a “River of Possibility.” Then you could think up names for the smaller rivers that flow into it, or draw in a waterfall and name that, too. Would you put a city alongside the river? Mountains? Swamps? What life-features would you name those places after?

Go randomly around the page, sketching in features of a landscape and giving them names that reflect the features that a life can have.

Some people approach this by asking themselves, “What other features does this landscape need?” Then they try to imagine what aspect of living is like that feature.

Other people begin with an idea about a quality or experience in life. Then they ask themselves, “What kind of landscape feature does this remind me of?

Some people draw a page full of map features first. Then they go back around and name everything.

Some people start with the names and do the sketching last.

A lot of people mix all these different strategies up.

Whatever your approach, work on the map until the page is full and it feels to you like it’s done.

Take a moment to admire the landscape you have made. Squeeze in new details or features if new ideas pop into your mind.

When the page is all done, make sure it has a title, and that your signature and the date are on it, too.

Here is an example of the kind of map someone could make.

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. It’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center at this time, but if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

Day By Day

by Nancy Casey

Days go by. They always do. Sometimes they feel so identical that they all melt together into the big memory lump we call “the past.” Some days bring such surprises that they are unforgettable.

Making this page will give you a chance to focus on two specific days in your life: yesterday and today. It’s a chance to ask yourself the question: What has happened today that is different from yesterday?

As you set up your page, try to remember your whole experience from the last 48 hours. How did it all unfold?

Draw a line at the top of the page where your title will eventually go. Set aside some space for drawing or illustration if you like.

Begin writing down some details of what has made today unlike yesterday (so far).

Days can vary because of things that are out of our control: the weather, your work schedule, or what other people do and say.

Certain events that will not be repeated might have happened today or yesterday. Perhaps you visited with certain people on one of those days. Maybe some of the places you went were different. Maybe you witnessed something unusual.

What about the various objects in your life? Did you park your car and hang your coat in the same places today and yesterday? Are you wearing the same clothes?

Think about your habits and rituals, the ways most days are the same for you. Did anything vary from normal, either today or yesterday?

What has surprised you in the last 48 hours? Have you learned anything new? Lost anything? Met anybody for the first time?

Maybe you have had a change in attitude about something. Or your alertness and fatigue levels have varied. Did you eat the exact same foods on both days? Have there been changes in your home environment—cleaner? dirtier? Is all the furniture in the same places?

As soon as you think up something that has changed since yesterday, describe it. Explain what’s different and if you want to, explain why it’s different or what you think about it.

It could turn out that you will end up writing about one big change, or more than one. Maybe your page will be in paragraphs, or maybe it will look more like a list.

If you can’t decide what to write about, get your pen going by drawing or doodling. The motion slows your thoughts and helps you notice them better. As soon as an idea for writing comes to you, start putting down some words.

When the page is full, go back over your work. Make small changes if you want to. Add more decoration if there is room. Think up a title.

Write the title at the top of the page. Write the date on it 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. It’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center at this time, but if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.