Thursday, November 5, 2020

Thoughts on Writerly Gratitude

by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

November is the time of year in the U.S. when it’s become common practice to focus on what we’re grateful for. People will share gratitude posts on social media every day. Children will write down things they are thankful for on leaves that will be attached to tiny trees or made into decorative garlands that will adorn tables at Thanksgiving. There’s nothing wrong with any of it, but I think because it’s so common, it’s easy to forget how important it is. But writerly gratitude is vital to a writer's well-being.

Perhaps more this year than ever before. Because 2020 has been tough.

I know I’m not alone in this, but I don’t like change. I don’t like upheaval, discontent, or strife. I’m a peacemaker, and when I’m engulfed in turmoil that I cannot fix, it weighs on me and impacts everything I do. 

All of which has made 2020 mentally, emotionally, and creatively exhausting. It’s hard to create when you’re distracted and dealing with omnipresent low-level frustration about the state of the world. 

And this is where gratitude comes in. I can’t change the state of the world, but I can focus my thoughts in a different direction. I can make the effort to remember all the things that are awesome and wonderful about my life. And thankful hearts are less anxious and more at peace.

So I decided it was time to ground myself in gratitude. To do this, I made a list of things I have found myself appreciating more than ever this year. 

Here are the writerly items that made the list:

1. Technology. Y’all, can you even imagine what 2020 would have been like without it? I’m thankful for Zoom, for virtual brainstorming sessions, for on-line classes, for email, for texting, and for the way all of these things have kept me from feeling completely isolated and alone. 

2. Well-written stories. I’ve read a lot in 2020. Probably too much. But I’ve never been so thankful for the gift of story, for the way a story, well told, can give me a much-needed diversion from painful reality, and it can also uplift, encourage, and strengthen me to face reality with grace and fresh hope. 

3. Frixion pens. Have y’all used these? They come in lots of colors and they are erasable. I am in love with the navy to the point that I have them stashed everywhere. Given the number of times my plans have changed in 2020, erasable pens have become an indispensable tool.

4. My bullet journal. I’ve been using a bullet journal for years and wow, has 2020 really made it shine. When every day feels like a choose-your-own adventure story, having a flexible and personalized planner is crucial. My love for my bullet journal was already strong, but it has been cemented this year.

5. Scrivener. I could have put this in the technology category, but it really deserves its own mention. I write everything in Scrivener, but when my creativity has been scattered and disjointed the way it has been in 2020, Scrivener’s innate ability to organize my writing has been a blessing. 

6. Food delivery. 2020 has brought restaurant and grocery delivery into the mainstream like never before. I’ve been a fan of grocery delivery for a while, especially when I’m on a deadline. But I can’t say I’d really jumped on the restaurant delivery bandwagon. Then Chick-fil-A offered me free delivery, and not having to leave home and having my Chick-fil-A sandwich, waffle fries, and tea brought to my door was a game changer! 

7. Airpods. I’m a homeschooling mom, so I’m used to having my kids at home during the school year. But even I wasn’t used to having my kids home as much as they’ve been in 2020! Enter AirPods. When I need to tune out the latest episode of American Ninja Warrior or whatever craziness they are watching on YouTube, I can pop those babies in, crank up some film scores, and get some words on the page. 

8. Chocolate and coffee. True story: These two items have made frequent appearances in my personal gratitude journal for years, so this is nothing new. But I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to tackle 2020 without them.

9. The writing community. We’re an odd bunch, we writers. There’s no way around that. We get excited about story structure and world building. We talk about characters like they are real people, and some of us even talk TO them like they are real people . . . and they ANSWER us. Non-writers do not get that, and it’s always been important to have people in my life who do understand. So while I’ve always been thankful for my writing friends, I’ve never been more thankful than in 2020. I’m an introvert and you might think the pandemic would work for me, but even introverts need community and connection. And my extroverted writer friends have needed it desperately. And it’s happened. Writers have embraced technology and have made it work for us. And I think when this is over, the writing community will be stronger than ever. 

So how about you? What writerly things are you thankful for? What has kept you going over the past few months? Is there something you appreciate now that you didn’t before? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Grace and peace,


Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing romantic suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy, but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Lynn’s titles have won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award. Her newest series kicks off in March 2021 with Unknown Threat, Book 1 in the Defend and Protect series. 

She is a frequent conference speaker and has taught Scrivener to writers all over the country. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at and @LynnHBlackburn on Bookbub, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


  1. Make the voices in your head work for you. LOL

  2. Since I took your Scrivener course at the BRMCWC a couple of years ago and saw how you used it even for your TWC posts, it changed my writing life. I now write mine in Scrivener, too. Oh my goodness! What a difference. SO yeah, I'm uber-thankful for Scrivener.

  3. I'm so glad you mentioned the writing community! Without it, 2020 would have been so much more painful!!

  4. Your list is both inspiring and affirming! I'm more thankful than ever for the virtual community of writer friends I'm blessed to be part of.

  5. I want to add a happy face and a thumbs up. ;) Donevy