So, it’s Thanksgiving time, and I couldn’t be happier. I have a week off from work, I’m in the middle on the North Carolina mountains with my boyfriend’s family, and I get to sleep in as long as I want every morning. Pretty much paradise for this exhausted educator and thesis writer. Anyway, I often have trouble doing any creative writing during this part of the holiday season because I’m so worn out that I can’t think of anything to write, and since I only have a week, it’s difficult to rest up enough to let the ideas come along on their own in time. I do have a little trick I do to both get myself in the holiday spirit AND in the mood to write: I write out a “thankful” list. Most people do around this time of year, but I don’t just do the generic “family, friends, and work” sort of thing. I get as detailed as I possibly can with about 25 events (major or minor) that have happened this year and 15-20 objects and/or people I’m thankful for, and I leave an anecdote with each one. Usually, at least one of those write-ups on my list will spark an idea, and off I go to write. So here’s a couple examples from my list this year:

1) Thankful for: My boyfriend. Anecdote: He always tries to get me to attempt new things; this semester, he’s wanted me to go to a football game because he loves sports and I have never so much as seen 5 minutes of a football event. I agreed to go, rather begrudgingly, but the home football games for my school’s team never lined up quite right with my schedule. The day we finally got to go was the last home game of the season, and it was ridiculously cold outside (about 30 degrees). We were there early, so we got bobbleheads of the school’s mascot, and pretty nice ones at that. I still don’t know what to do with mine, but who cares? So anyway, we sat in the student section, and it was kind of ridiculous. I had no idea what was going on (why is it called football when their feet don’t come in contact with the ball?), particularly since the game kept getting stopped every 5 seconds, and it was so cold. Boyfriend told me we could go after the first quarter, but I had promised him I would stay until the half, so I said I would wait. He laughed at me for being stubborn and bet that I would give up. Me being me, that taunting made me even more stubborn. So despite the teasing and the ridiculous cold as it got darker and darker, I stayed put until the whistle blew to mark the end of the second quarter. We both ran for the nearest building and sat in there for 2 hours to warm up. I still have no idea how football works, but I’m thankful for having that experience with my boyfriend because it made him very happy I was willing to try it, and it brought out his more playful side (he really likes teasing me when I’m being stubborn). It was a good day, despite the cold and confusion. football1

23) Thankful for: my spice cabinet. Anecdote: I was in a car accident a couple months ago, and the vehicle swerved quite a bit after the initial impact before we finally stopped. I was in the back seat and got thrown around a little; I later went to the hospital and I was diagnosed with bad whiplash. Anyway, when the car first stopped, my head hurt really badly, and I was dizzy and kind of freaked out. The police and an ambulance were there, and we all had to get out. Despite everything going on, all I could think about was finding my salt and pepper shakers…I’d brought dinner in my bag, and with it I’d brought along my black peppercorn grinder and my expensive sea salt. They fell out of the bag when the accident occurred, and I remember being terribly worried that I wouldn’t find them before the tow truck came and took the van away. I actually had one of my friends crawl around the car looking for them – she obliged me and found them, and I was at peace despite the fact that we were stranded on the side of a road in the dark out in the backwoods somewhere. None of that mattered because I had my salt and pepper, and I was greatly thankful for it.

I don’t know where I’ll go with these things creatively, but I’m already starting to get some ideas. In almost every case, I start off with the item or person in question, and end up somewhere in my anecdote that I hadn’t even considered. It helps me not only remember things to be thankful for, but also remember occurrences to bring into my stories, and it’s quite inspiring. So what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

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2 thoughts on “Brainstorming Tips: Be Thankful

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