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Today the entire United States is on hold. We’re pausing to celebrate a tradition set long ago. We’re expressing everything we’re thankful for. And we’re eating way too much.

Turns out, Thanksgiving is a lot like writing.

photo by Dinner Series

photo by Dinner Series

1. The Chance to Show Off

Let’s just be real: I can’t cook half the stuff I’m consuming today. What I’ve learned is that today’s master chefs started long before this week preparing for the feast. They planned what needs to go in the oven when, how long ahead of time they need to start in order for everything to be ready, and which plates need to hold which entrée.

Thanksgiving is a chance for chefs to show-off their kitchen skills and for the rest of us to enjoy their skills.

Writing’s the same way. A book is a chance to show off our craft. How can I get this character into this scene, how does he need to react to that conflict, and what’s it going to take to wrap up all plots and subplots at the same time?

2. It’s a time of unity

The first Thanksgiving was a cross-cultural meal of unity between the pilgrims and the Indians. This breaking norms has extended for hundreds of years. Now families who haven’t seen each other in far too long are sharing a meal. They’re taking in those who don’t have loved ones nearby to celebrate with.

If you’ve been around here for more than ten minutes you’ve heard Joe talk about how writers need cartels. We writers need communities, we need cheerleaders, we need unity. Writing’s not a competition. It’s a group effort.

3. A chance to acknowledge others

Today we’re celebrating what we’re thankful for. We’re giving credit to people for the little things they do throughout the year. We’re acknowledging that even though our family always fights, we’re grateful for one another.

Even though writing is seen as a solo sport, publishing a book is a group effort. Be sure to celebrate those who helped you along the way—the people who let you bounce ideas off of them, editors, agents, publishers, marketing teams, friends, and even family who gave of their time with you. Treat them to a dinner, a free copy of the book, or even a printed acknowledgement if you can.

4. It’s a chance to over-indulge

Just admit it: you’ll eat too much. Too much turkey. Too much green bean casserole. Too much pumpkin pie. You’ll be over-full, and you’re going to spend the entire afternoon getting intimate with the inside of your eyelids. But once you wake up, you’re going to go prowl for those same foods you ate too much of earlier today.

Writing can be like that. You spend too many hours up close and personal with your manuscript that you just can’t take it anymore. That’s ok. Take a break. But don’t let it be a long break. Have a turkey sandwich and go back to what you’re working on and keep working until it’s done.

How are you finding writing material in your Thanksgiving celebration?


Tell us your favorite Thanksgiving story. (If you’re not from the States, tell us your favorite fall story). Post it in the comments and comment on a few other posts.

Katie Axelson
Katie Axelson
Katie Axelson is a writer, editor, and blogger who's seeking to live a story worth telling. You can find her blogging, tweeting, and facebook-ing.
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