Thanksgiving is a holiday of gratitude. But when it’s your turn at the dinner table to say what you’re grateful for, chances are you don’t say yourself. While I believe it’s important to acknowledge the special people in your life, the good food, and the roof over your head, I also believe it’s equally important to be grateful for yourself and your unique writing journey.
Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Inspiration is fleeting. Most of us start off with a kernel of an idea that strikes without warning and compels us to begin in a passionate flurry. But eventually, whether in several hours or months, that inspiration wanes. And instead of quitting, most of us choose to carry on and finish writing, which requires discipline and courage.
2. Finishing a writing project can take a long time. As my great grandpa used to say: “it’s a long race, pace yourself.” Even if you write poetry or short stories, writing takes time. Some days will be exciting and passion-filled while others will hack at your self-confidence.
3. Writing is a skillset you build. It’s common for an established author to cringe when you bring up their first book—even when you’ve read that book and think it’s one of the greatest literary works of our time. This is because every time we write, revise, or share our work, we are exercising and improving our “writing muscles.” Each writing experience helps us learn and grow into better writers, which means our standards change and we may suddenly judge previous work as bad, regardless of what a fresh pair of eyes would think.
4. As they say, writing is rewriting. There is nothing pleasant about the phrase: “kill your darlings.” But most writing professionals will stand by the advice wholeheartedly. Almost always, writing requires revisions. Some will make sense immediately and you will be happy to make the changes. But others will be painful, exhausting, and repetitive.
5. Writing requires vulnerability.Why do we write? To express ourselves to others. Yet whether you’ve written an out-of-this-world fantasy novel or a memoir about a troubling time in your life, sharing your work can be scary.
So this Thanksgiving, be grateful for your inspiration that’s fleeting. For the length of the journey. For your ability to keep learning and perfecting your craft. For your vulnerability and your strength to hear others’ opinions and use them to take your writing to the next level.
Thank you, writers, for continuing to put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. Thank you for expressing and sharing your words, even when it’s scary—especially when it’s scary. Thank you for loving this craft and hating it and loving it again.
I am grateful that each and every one of you have chosen to take this journey.