It's Thanksgiving week, and the NaNoWriMo-worn writer wails 'Oh no.'
Since I am a NaNo veteran in my 8th consecutive year, I know the pitfalls of Thanksgiving well. It's supposed to be the time when you're almost finished, but more often than not, it just marks yet another day where you'll fall even farther behind. It's stressful. Just yesterday I was complaining to my best friend that I feel as if I'm making terrible progress this year. I got to the point where I had to take a breather just to calm myself down.
When I returned to my screen, I paused. I looked back on the month, took stock of what I'd done so far and realized what a dire mistake I was making. It was a bit of a blow, especially considering I've written about this before. Short answer: not only was I comparing my progress to other writers around me, I was comparing my progress my own previous years where I'd done better. And then, remembering I'd indeed warned against this very thing, I decided to instead take Thanksgiving to heart and be grateful for what I can do as a writer.
That being said...
1. I'm thankful for creativity.
I have an imagination. God made humans specifically in His image, and part of that is possessing the ability to create. Sometimes I get so lost in my frustrations that I forget how privileged I am just to have even a fraction of inventive ability.
2. I'm thankful for words.
Words are eternal. Without words, we wouldn't be able to enjoy the imaginations of others. We'd have no Shakespeares, no Wildes, no Shelleys or Keats or Dickens or any of the modern authors I also love. Plus, I get a kick out of grammar, and even though I still really suck at certain parts of it, I take joy in how we can use it to expresses our messages.
3. I'm thankful for teachers (and friends!)
My writing professor taught me a lot. She's direct, tough and talented, and she made sure to point out my weaknesses in ways that would help me improve. I'm a better writer because of her, and also because of my peers. They teach me every day. I'm grateful for the help that comes through constructive criticism because it truly makes a difference.
4. I'm thankful for writing challenges.
NaNoWriMo is the first one that pops to mind, but I've also taken up personal writing challenges throughout the year. They may make me want to punch something while I'm doing them, but I'm glad for the discipline and structure of staying focused on a goal.
5. I'm thankful for deadlines.
This one's kind of like "Whaaaat?!" But yes, I'm thankful for deadlines because they're an external motivator, and when I feel like a piece of uninspired crap, they push me to keep doing what I love. If I didn't have deadlines, I'd be a whole lot lazier than I am now.
6. I'm thankful for community.
The writing community is enormous. We writers are everywhere (mostly on the internet, but that's actually one of the most awesome ways to connect through words anyway). We support each other, critique each other, network with each other, read each other's work and make sure we're all writing. Together, we can bond and mope and just generally have fun.
There are probably a billion-and-twelve things I could continue listing (right down to "the ability to accidentally write a sentence that rhymesand then laugh about it") but these are some of the most important things I'm thankful for as a writer. When the going gets tough and my Muse is being elusive, I still have these things. I'm still a writer.