Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ongoing Spirit of Gratitude--A Thanksgiving Writing Exercise

A book-writing client talked with me this week about having an ongoing spirit of gratitude for her characters. She regularly notes on paper what she appreciates about them. She also works as a newspaper reporter. Her interviews are always full of understanding of the people she profiles and their situations.

She believes this spirit of appreciation sparks unspoken cooperation between writer and subject—whether that subject is memory, imaginative, or factual.

Make use of the annual holiday of Thanksgiving for your writing exercise this week, by writing each day for 2-3 minutes about what you appreciate. This is sometimes called a gratitude journal.

Writers use gratitude journals to unblock their creativity. Gratitude is simple, easily forgotten, more powerful than expected when you practice it. With our creativity, it fosters a kind of deeper understanding and appreciation about our lives, what we specifically offer the world, what’s unique about that offering and why it matters.

Each evening before bed, list three things you felt grateful for that day. You can focus, as the book writer above does, on what you’re grateful for about your book, your characters, the topic you’re exploring. Or just your life.
Keep going with this exercise for seven days. Regular practice is key to it working.

A week from now, see what changes have come. Sometimes you’ll noticing a lightening of spirit. Maybe there will be new opportunities. More awareness of what’s actually working, what you’re doing well.

This sounds like a lightweight activity. It’s not. It’s potent. I’ve keep a gratitude journal for many years. When I forget to write in it each evening, and the days slip by without appreciation, my Inner Critic begins to strongly affect my writing. I’ve learned to appreciate this simple exercise as a way to keep myself on track as a writer and as a human being.

Happy Thanksgiving!