G is for Gratitude
Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. -Henry Ward Beecher
Even for the most optimistic among us, it's human nature to sometimes get snagged in the gears of the daily grind, and to forget how much we have to be grateful for.
It's easy to find things to complain about as a writer.
I can't get published.
I can't make a living.
Publishing houses don't pay anymore (or do PR).
Markets don't pay what they used to.
I've got carpal tunnel/neck & back pain/eyestrain.
My editor doesn't understand me.
My agent expects too much.
I'm too tired from (fill in the blank--working a full-time job, parenting, etc.) to write.
No one buys "real" books anymore.
No one respects my writing time.
No one reads anymore.
And sometimes, that angst is the same well from which our creativity springs, so, even if we could eliminate these feelings entirely, it wouldn't necessarily help us be better writers.
I'm not here to tell you to only think positive thoughts (though if you can, all the power to you!). But I am suggesting this: your ability to handle life will improve if you expend some of that energy on reflecting about what you have to be thankful for.
And one more thing.
Pay that gratitude forward. Even if you are a beginner, you have something to offer someone else. Read to a child, or to a senior who can no longer see the page or hold a book. Volunteer at a school or as a literacy tutor at a library, hospice, or homeless shelter. Maybe it is your next door neighbor. Maybe it is your child's best friend, or classmate. Maybe it is a coworker's family member. And this doesn't need to be limited to writing. We all have something special to offer. It could be cooking a healthy meal, or taking someone for a walk.
There is always something that you can do to make this world a better place. And in doing so, it makes you a better person.
Which makes you a better writer.
Because when we have authentic interactions with others, and when we have empathy for their struggles and can see life from their perspectives, we are adding to our rich treasure chest of memories and experiences that we may draw upon from for our writing.
That is all.
Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. -Karl Barth