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A Simple Guide to Writing with Gratitude

Gratitude shapes your language and your world. Regular practice in writing with gratitude gets you writing about what’s good, but also what’s real. It’s a powerful form of affirmation. The more you write this kind of stuff the more it becomes what’s ‘normal’ to you; it influences your language and your beliefs. It starts to shape and create your world.

I’ve written before about some of the benefits of writing with gratitude (12 Reasons to Enjoy Writing with Gratitude).

I know that gratitude infuses a lot of my own writing, and that’s probably one of the reasons I love writing so much, and am good at carving out the time to do it ;-)

As well as re-highlighting the link to that post I thought I’d also share just a few thoughts on how to approach writing with gratitude.

Lion Heart Dandelion

Write it when you feel it

Writing with gratitude is a form of affirmation.  The more you write, the more you notice.  If you pay attention to the feeling by simply writing it down, you’re likely to get more of it in the future.  (And it’s a good feeling, so why not enjoy it!)

That being said however:

Don’t force it

Try too hard and you’ll end up feeling that you ‘should’ be grateful (yet don’t).  This, as I’m sure you know, is not a good feeling at all.  It won’t do much for your writing either.  It’ll sound hollow, rather than ring true.

I know some people swear by gratitude journals but they don’t work for me.  I find it more fruitful instead to:

Look for things you might more easily find

That might be going out and looking for a colour, for example.  This is a simple and effective way to adjust your filters - especially with a camera in hand - and you might be astonished at what you find that would previously have gone un-noticed.

I also find it works to keep an eye out for ‘treasure’ (whatever that means for you).  It doesn’t come with quite the same burden of ‘should’ that Gratitude brings with it, though it will give you a powerful feeling of gratitude when you find it.

Then, in the writing about what you find:

Keep it simple

Don’t overdo it, don’t labour the point, don’t try and over-analyse what makes the moment / place / person experience so special, just… keep it simple.  (After all, there’s nothing quite as powerful as a simple ‘thank you’.)

Don’t fake it

If you didn’t have the feeling at the time, don’t try and write it into being.  It doesn’t work.  Focus instead on the specifics of the things that do make you feel humble, wondrous, speechless, glad to be alive… grateful

Allow for the possibility of magic to occur

There are things you can do (without forcing it or faking it) that’ll increase your chances of stumbling into a moment of gratitude.

I know what some of those places are for me (a bright tea room on a cold winter’s afternoon; woodland; hedgerows; places where land and water meet) and those are also places where most of my writing flows from.  But they won’t necessarily be the same places that do it for you.

Find the places that do it for you.

Even if it takes a lifetime, it’s kind of a precious, priceless, thing to know about yourself.

Capture the moment

A few lines, a few points of detail, a simple caption of the flavour of the moment… that’s enough.  Allow yourself to feel the moment as you’re writing it - let the hairs rise again on the back of your neck, let your lips smile in delight, let the tears sting the edges of your eyes - then simply trust that your unconscious mind will give you the words to capture the moment.

It will.

Which, in itself, is surely worth a quiet, heart-felt: thank you.


To all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, have a wonderful day.


Linked posts:

12 Reasons to Enjoy Writing with Gratitude

9 Possible Ways That Writing Changes Things

12 Line Thank You

(Yes, I’ve got a thing about numbers)

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  2. Tyrean Martinson says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I’m trying to write and live with gratitude each day, giving thanks for this amazing life, and all the blessings packed into it. The simple act of giving thanks, and developing an attitude of gratitude has changed my life for good.

  3. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Tyrean Martinson: thanks for sharing that Tyrean - I love attitude of gratitude :-)

  4. maryawrites says:

    Thanks for a great post. I often write with gratitude, my journal is a long standing witness to this practise of mine. Sometimes when I do feel the need to vent, I switch to a separate diary. This way, I can also see that how little has been scribbled in the vent book and how wonderfully my gratitude journals are flowing. This keep things in perspective. :)

  5. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @maryawrites: that’s a great idea Marya - we do need to vent sometimes, but I can see the sense in keeping the two moods and emotions separate - as you say also gives the visual evidence to help keep perspective