At the start of my regular creative writing sessions, I always ask students to share something positive about their week.
One of my main priorities as a teacher is to create a strong, supportive group. We learn so much when we're prepared to share our work, but sharing our work takes trust. Giving an insight into our lives and what's important to us helps to foster that trust.
At first when I ask my students to share something positive, they're often taken aback. Sometimes they can't think of anything to say. But as the weeks pass, and they get used to being asked to do this, they invariably manage to come up with something. Especially when they realise I'm not expecting it to be anything incredible - that I'm quite happy with "this morning I made myself a delicious mug of hot chocolate," or, "I sat in the garden for five minutes to listen to the birds singing."
I almost prefer to hear about these small, precious nuggets of joy in fact because they're the sort of things you can pepper your day with, rooted as they are in being mindful and in noticing your environment and your reactions to it. If you care to look, these moments are in endless supply. As I write on a cold, sunny day in November, I don't need to look any further than out of my window. This little beech tree is in my neighbour's garden. He can't see it unless he makes an effort, but we can see it all the time. Lucky us!
Another reason I like to encourage a feeling of positivity in my classes is because writing - and getting published - can be so hard. As writers, we need the support of other writers. People who understand our struggles and our triumphs. We also need to be able to pick ourselves up and keep going when things don't work out the way we hope they will. Being positive helps us to this.
With my latest novel currently out on submission, I'm drawing on my habit of noticing the positives to help me deal with what feels like a roller coaster ride of excitement and anxiety. Everything I've been working towards and hoping for comes down to this.
Except of course, for the pure pleasure of putting words down on paper. Creating characters I care about. Solving plot puzzles and snatching at moments of inspiration. Responding to feedback to make the writing even better. A feeling of pride when things come together.
Whatever happens, I'll always have those things, and I intend to relish them. Celebrate them.
As well, of course, as starting to write something else!