gratitude

On WritingI’m going rogue.

Generally, my ‘On Writing‘ posts are straightforward. This post, and (I suspect) the next few, will be of the tangential variety. There will be connections to the writing process–after all, life’s larger themes have an undeniable and reverberating impact on our fiction–but I may not be talking about word-count or grammar.

To start, on Thanksgiving Day, while prepping, I flipped on the radio. I was in the mood to hear voices, but not music, so I tuned into NPR. My timing was fortuitous, and I joined them just as they were beginning an hour long special entitled “The Science of Gratitude”. The program explored the concrete, objective impact of gratitude on everything from stress to productivity. While it’s not surprising to learn that gratitude generally makes you a better person, the show detailed results far beyond what I would have expected.

The take-away for me was that it’s important to be thankful. There’s almost no way to say that without sounding trite, though, and it’s one of those messages we tend to regulate to after school specials and kindergarten classrooms. It’s a nice thought, but we don’t have time for that shit in the dog-eat-dog reality of the adult world.

Pfff.

You’ve got time to be grateful. It’s not like working out. It doesn’t even cut into your schedule. It’s an attitude, and one well worth cultivating. It’ll make you happier, more pleasant to be around, and it will almost certainly make your writing better. (There’s your tie-in, kids.) It costs you nothing, and it benefits you in a variety of ways. If you refuse an offer like that, you’re either a masochist or an idiot.

Hopefully not both. That’s a dangerous combo.

If you’re sold on the idea of gratitude and don’t know where to start, do the same kind of thing they would do in kindergarten. Make a list of 3-5 things for which you are thankful. Big things, small things–it doesn’t matter. You could do it in your head, but it will stick with you better if you write them out.

Yeah, it’ll feel silly, but no one has to know you’re doing it, and it benefits you. It’s like a high fiber diet. You may not want to advertise it, but shit will be a lot easier to deal with if you just do it.

Find something to be thankful for today. Make it a point to reflect on how lucky you are, even for just a bit. Then try to carry that sense of gratitude with you in all that you do, including (and especially) your writing.

Oh, and if you’re interested in hearing the full radio program, you can stream it here.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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