I haven’t written a word in my novel manuscript since Wednesday. Usually I would find this disheartening, but I’ve learned through trial and error that I actually get less frustrated if I don’t expect to write anything over holidays. I’m also better able to focus on friends and family if I don’t have a daily word count gnawing at the back of my mind. I still don’t feel entirely myself when I haven’t done any writing in four days, but I know it’s a temporary situation and I will get back to my novel and its characters in good time.

In the meantime, with no particular thoughts about my creative or editorial processes, it seems appropriate to use this space to talk about some of the aspects of writing I’m thankful for:

  • I’m thankful that writing can open up imaginary worlds. I’ve read a lot of children’s books over the past four days, and though I may prefer David Wiesner’s Tuesday or Alexander and the Dragon to the Berenstain Bears, I’m glad all of them lead young readers into spaces of imagination. I think it’s important for readers of all ages to imagine beyond what they’ve been told are the limits of possibility or realism.
  • I’m thankful that writing can create communities. Again, the simplest example I’m thinking about is reading books to children, but reading takes place in other groups too. I read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight every Christmas, and often different family members join me and read aloud. In broader ways, whole fandoms and communities grow up around books like A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter. The stories, characters, magical objects, and dilemmas become touchstones that we use in everyday conversation to help make sense of our own lives (Sorting Hat quizzes, anyone?).
  • I’m thankful that writing can transcend time, place, and culture. Through books I can explore Victorian England or medieval Mesoamerica or ancient China. I can engage with how different people have lived and thought throughout thousands of years of human history—or how different people around the globe see the world. Writing is one of our most profound tools for communicating and empathizing with others.

There are plenty of other reasons I’m thankful for writing and creativity in general, but these three points are certainly high up on the list for me.

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