Thursday, November 10, 2016

Gratitude and Writing—Is There a Connection?


November and gratitude go together, given the traditional Thanksgiving celebration in the U.S. However, let’s look beyond the turkey dinner, visits with relatives, and reflections on the year’s blessings and consider this month’s writing prompt—NaNoWriMo. Now pounding away daily on the keyboard to meet the 50,000-word requirement by month’s end may intimidate some, so let’s explore the inspiration of gratitude when facing a writing deadline. I recently read that gratitude helps generate happiness. What does happiness have to do writing?

Mood can affect both ability and desire to write. Maybe it doesn’t in your case; in mine, it does. What affects my mood? Weather? Sometimes. The moods of people around me? To a degree. Life in general? Uh huh. Negative thinking? Always. And the list goes on. Still, I fancy myself a writer and want to finish those stories I’ve already started.

It’s been said that a routine of daily writing makes huge sense. (Remember NaNoWriMo.)
Unfortunately, mood can undermine that planned productivity. Imagine, for example, that you awaken to your alarm, only to also hear thunder rumbling in the distance. You open the curtain and see a still-dark, starless sky. Lightning steaks across the horizon. Low-hanging clouds threaten to bring another downpour to your already drenched yard, flickering lights announce an imminent power outage, and a sobbing youngster stands in your doorway, fingering the threadbare binding on the remnant of his baby blanket. Your creative mood nosedives as your monitor goes black along with the lights.

WAIT! Rather than give a go-ahead to the negative mood that’s about to consume your carefully planned morning, take another look at the gifts you’ve just been handed. While a crying child may not seem to be a gift, the chance to show your love and compassion is. It’s time to rethink, regroup, and view your dedicated writing time from a new angle.

Grabbing the flashlight from your bedside table in one hand and your little boy’s hand in the other, you head for the living room. The logs in the fireplace spring to life after you light the kindling tucked in around them. Oil lamps on the mantle flicker and brighten to cast fascinating shadows on the wall. Those new, high-powered LED lanterns you bought for emergencies light the room like noontime on a summer day, and the extra pillow and blanket in the closet invite your little one to snuggle close to you on the couch. One glitch: you forgot to charge the battery in your laptop. So much for the new writing angle.

WAIT AGAIN! You remember hearing that writing in longhand releases the inner muse and promotes creativity. Where did you put that legal pad you used to keep by the bedside? The last time you had it, you were teaching your child to write his name. You remember—it’s in the drawer with his coloring books.



Rain pelts the roof and windows with unrelenting fury; the crackling fire softens its pounding and surrounds you with warmth. Dark clouds hide the rising sun; lanterns and oil lamps brighten the room. Your youngster drifts back to sleep, nestled under his beloved “night-night” and a fuzzy blanket. Your legal pad rests securely on the broad arm of the couch. New ideas flit through your mind. Pen in hand, you begin to write. Words trickle onto the paper, then come so fast you can barely keep up. What could have totally wrecked your morning writing schedule has blossomed into a unique opportunity for even greater creativity.

As creatures of habit, we are not always as adaptable as we could be. However, we are creative people capable of thinking outside that clichéd box. Learning to be grateful for changes that seem to thwart our plans takes some practice; but if we just open our minds to the possibilities, we often find new doors opening to enhance our works in progress.

Does mood affect your writing? Have you ever taken advantage of unexpected situations and events to give new dimension to your stories?

Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love— writing—while maintaining her editing work. She also helps new and not-so-new writers improve their skills through posts on Blood Red Pencil and offers private tutoring as well as seminars online. You can contact her through her writing website, LSLaneBooks.com, which is currently being updated. Also, you can visit her editing team at DenverEditor.com to find experienced editors in a variety of genres to help you polish your book into a marketable work.

7 comments :

  1. What a great blog post, Linda. You showed us how to take advantage of the unexpected in such a clever, creative way.

    Since we all draw from our life experiences, I'm sure there are many ways we incorporate that into our writing, even when we are not fully aware of it. Our unique voice is a representation of that accumulated experience.

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  2. My life has been full of unexpecteds, so adaptability became a necessity -- even though at times I was a slow learner. Thank you for stopping by. Love your comment. :-)

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  3. Great post, Linda. I loved your visuals. Mood definitely affects me. Negativity affects me. This long election season affected me. I made a vow to tune out. No more cable news. No political websites. I think I'll be a lot happier. I might even write a book.

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  4. I'm with you, Polly. The constant barrage of rehashed (and potentially embellished) negatives, along with the general unrest and anger of the population as a whole, is enough to unsettle anybody. But by extension, it could be great grist in some form for that book you might write. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. :-)

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  5. I love the visuals in this post. The past few years have been a Master course in adaptability. I find that as my fear and stress levels rise, so does my need to hide the seriousness of my situation from others. I am often at my funniest during my worst hours.

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  6. Love your comment, Audrey. Writing from the heart in whatever form our stresses lead us can touch our readers in ways we may never imagine. Thank you for sharing.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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