Columns > Published on November 26th, 2014

A Writer's Gratitude List: 12 Things to be Thankful For

Thanksgiving approaches, and it's time to give thanks. As writers, we have a unique set of items to be thankful for. Having trouble finding that gratitude inside yourself? Maybe this list of writerly items will help steer you in the right direction.

Merciful editors and publishers

I used to think my poor punctuality and deadline-related anxiety were abnormal. Then I started working as an editor and discovered how many writers are habitually behind schedule. Let's give thanks to the merciful editors and publishers who keep giving us work despite all of our shenanigans.

Your shitty life

Seriously. It gives you something to write about. As our dear friend Chuck Palahniuk said:

Have your adventures, make your mistakes, and choose your friends poorly—all these make for great stories.

Your drug of choice

Whether you deal with the anxiety of writing through alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, Minesweeper, M&Ms, or YouTube, it's time to give thanks. I'm not saying you should keep your addiction around, mind you. Just, so long as you're doing it, you may as well be grateful for its advantages.

Your honest readers

It can be intimidating for readers to give honest criticism. When they do, though, it gives us the opportunity to improve our work—and at the end of the day, the quality of the work should matter far more than the writer's infamously sensitive ego.

That community of writers is vital. Your fellow aspirants will help challenge you, motivate you, and share in your victories and losses.

Your dishonest readers

Because ... you know, it's nice to have that sensitive ego stroked from time to time.

Your writing tools

Whether you have a fancy journal and a $200 pen, a laptop with a well-hammered keyboard, or a mechanical pencil and the napkins from your local Denny's, your tools are what allow you to transform yourself from a dreamer into a creator.

Good books

We live in an era where countless books are at our fingertips—through digital and brick-and-mortar libraries, through hand-me-downs and shameless piracy. These are the stories that shape us, inspire us, and teach us how to write effectively. Despite the potential frustrations of hunting for a worthwhile read, there's good news: This world has countless great books for you to dig into. A few of my favorites? American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Survivor by Chuck PalahniukEcho by Francesca Lia Block, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald—and these are just the first few that came to mind. What are your top picks?

Great stories in any medium

I'm going to be honest with you: I spent all day yesterday binge-watching Agents of Shield. (It made its way to Netflix! Huzzah!) We live in a world where that's possible: A world where we can immerse ourselves in stories from a variety of mediums. Graphic novels, television shows, radio dramas, movies, and so many other things expand our imagination and teach us what great stories look like.

Your writing community

Whether your community is comprised of the writers you met in college, the group you ran into at your local library, or just the rag-tag group of online weirdos you met through a chance encounter, that community of writers is vital. Your fellow aspirants will help challenge you, motivate you, and share in your victories and losses.

Your support system

Beyond your writing community, your friends, family, and loved ones are a crucial part of making your writing life function—even if they can't totally understand all your crazy.

Being so great at starting projects

Your mind is overflowing with ideas that stir your passions and motivate you to get started.

It's okay. Some day you'll learn how to finish projects, too.

The opportunity to fail

As writers, the scope of our vision, the intensity of our ambition, and the difficulty of our task makes success a distant goal. It's a goal we have the opportunity to move toward, though, as we fail and fail again. Each failure brings us a step closer, teaches us more about ourselves and our craft, and gives us the chance to say—no matter the outcome—that we courted the void, reached into the ether, and fought to weave the wisps of dreams into a tangible reality.

What about you? What are you grateful for in your writing life? Leave your thoughts in the comments, below.

About the author

Rob is a writer and educator. He is intensely ADD, obsessive about his passions, and enjoys a good gin and tonic. Check out his website for multiple web fiction projects, author interviews, and various resources for writers.

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