Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Count Outline/Discover Your Blessings

by Deren Hansen

I titled this post with an eye to the stereotype that writers are quantitatively challenged (and a nod to the conceit that our approaches to writing are so deeply ingrained that you can have our plots and our pants when you pry them from our cold, dead fingers).

It's too bad that we who are tellers of tales are supposed to wear our innumeracy on our sleeves. There was a time when telling and counting were practically synonyms: the teller at the bank tells the money, and another way to tell a story is to recount it.

It's all the more unfortunate, as we're about to celebrate a day of national Thanksgiving, that we've lost the connection between counting and telling because most of us now respond to a request to count our blessings with an enumeration: food, shelter, clothing, etc. But gratitude without context is a thin broth. What makes tomorrow's holiday a hearty feast is the stories we share with friends and family to explain why we are grateful.

Some, perhaps many, of you are in the final, desperate days of NaNoWriMo. And if you're not fretting about how you get your word count in tomorrow you may be tormented by rejections or prone to attacks of anxiety over the ceaseless change in the publishing industry. Regardless of the demon or demons with whom you're on a first name basis, I invite you to stop entertaining them for a few moments and consider the concrete ways in which your writing has blessed you — not the ways in which you hope it might bless you, but the tangible benefits you have realized from being willing to try to put words on the page in something more than a slapdash fashion day after day.

For my part, the discipline of taking a nebulous idea and rendering it clear and concise with well-chosen words has been invaluable.

We'd love to hear any stories of writing blessings you'd care to share.

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. This article is from Sustainable Creativity: How to Enjoy a Committed, Long-term Relationship with your Muse. Learn more at

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