Gratitude

Does gratitude relate to writing?

I think so. I use it to fight the occasional (okay, maybe not so occasional) flare-ups of anxious negativity. I feel that pressure to write, to finish, and to perfect. I hear those voices that see the errors, point out the weaknesses, and generally tell me all the things I could do better. The best way I know to transform those thoughts and emotions into something helpful is to pause, take a breath, and be grateful for what is on my plate.

This sounds corny because it is corny. It is also true, for me at least.

When I stand in a space of being thankful, I feel a little calmer. I may still be faced with the same task—re-writing a clunky paragraph or changing the entire ending of a story—but when I’m grateful instead of irritated, new and creative solutions present themselves. It’s alchemy: a spark of appreciation changes the entire mix.

That’s not to say that the process of being grateful is easy. I don’t think it is. The idea is simple, but implementation is anything but. There’s always a very persuasive and reasonable voice that wants to stay negative. As disheartening as that voice is, it’s familiar and rational. In fact, I would argue that my anxious negative voice is correct on the merits much of the time. Being correct, though, is very different from being helpful. That’s why, instead debating the merits, I accept the assessment. I gain a little space in acceptance. Then, I can ask myself how to be grateful for this particularly writing challenge. The process may not transform my first-pass pages into a dance party, but it does help me to release mental energy from focusing on the negative and apply that same energy to something useful. And sometimes that’s all that’s needed.

Thank you.

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