In the News

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.

Randomly Reminding

by Nancy Casey

When you write today, you will have a chance to explore—and appreciate—how vast the contents of your mind are. You will do this by disorganizing your thoughts, and then (sort of) reorganizing them again.

Draw a line at the top of the page where your title will go. Next, write the letters of the alphabet, A-Z, down the left-hand side of the page.

Although the alphabet is very orderly, people don’t think or talk in alphabetical order. So you can disorganize your thoughts by writing down, next to the letter A, the first thing that pops into your mind that begins with the letter A. Then write something for the letter B. And then C, and so on down the page, finishing at the letter Z.

If you spend very much time deciding what to write next to each letter, your thoughts will naturally get orderly. So write down your 26 words as fast as you can. Use the first words that come to mind, instead of searching around for a “good” one.

Return to the word you wrote for the letter A. Next to it, write “reminds me of” and after that write something that your word reminds you of. You don’t have to explain the connection, or make anything clear. Just write something that makes sense to you in the moment.

For example, if you wrote airport for the letter A, maybe it would remind you of going to pick up your friend Ziggy at the airport. Of course you could write, “picking up Ziggy.” But you would remember other things, Ziggy’s clothes, perhaps or the snack you ate while waiting. So you might end up writing something like “torn jeans and a plaid shirt” or “an expensive sandwich that tasted awful.”

When you first start out, your mind might resist being so disorderly. After all, there is a lot of pressure on us to “make sense” most of the time. You can’t be totally random and at the same time, hold on to the idea of getting something “right.”

Does your mind get looser as you move down the page?

After you have written down what your Z-word reminds you of, go back over the page and reread what you have written.  Is it easy or hard to follow? Are there parts that surprised you or made you feel clever and original?

Give your work a title. Draw on the page, too. Decorate it however you like. Write your initials and 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. 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.

Drawing, Doodling, and Writing

by Nancy Casey

Drawing, doodling, and writing are more alike than different.  All three involve you making marks on paper (or whatever you write on) with a pen (or whatever you write with.) They can float your mind away from the part of your life that is all about tasks and time.

Today’s writing is an opportunity to make a page that leans heavily on the draw-and-doodle aspects of writing. So you can notice what that is like.

Draw a line at the top of the page where your title will go. Extend the line all the way to the edge, down the sides, and across the bottom so the whole page below the title will have a box around it.

Inside that box, draw some lines that divide the space into 5-7 more or less equal sections. You can draw straight lines or squiggly ones. The lines can slant and curve to make the sections be any shape that you like. Or you can make regular, even boxes.

Draw a line pretty close to the inside edge of each section. Now every section has a frame around it!

Decorate all the frames. In the space inside each one, draw a picture and write at least 3 words. You can skip around all over the page and doodle-decorate, draw, or write in any order.

To decorate the frames, you can draw lines and patterns or doodle it up in a way that’s completely random. To decorate a frame really fast, color it all one color.

For the pictures, you can draw any object around you, or something from your memory or imagination. You can try pictures that begin with a squiggle-doodle and turns into—what? Maybe a picture of something maybe not.

Three words isn’t very much. Start with the drawing and doodling parts and see what words pop into your head. More than three words is okay, of course.

Move around the page with drawing, doodling and writing until it is full. Look back over your work and think about what it felt like to do it.

Different people describe different ways that drawing, doodling, and writing affect their mind. For most, after 5 or 10 minutes into the process they notice a shift into a relaxed mind space. Ideas pop up that they didn’t expect to have. The sense of time and responsibility evaporates somehow. It can be very pleasant.

Sometimes there is resistance, too. It’s also interesting to notice that. How you can feel impatient. How, gradually, that impatience can go away and then boing! some clear thought comes into your mind and pleases you.

There’s no single, correct way for a person’s mind to behave. And nobody’s mind is the same every day. Drawing, doodling, and writing are tools in your toolkit. Over time they will show you how your mental and creative processes work.

While you are looking at your work and thinking about your process, a title will likely pop into your head. Write it at the top of the page, along with a 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. 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.