Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – With Gratitude

gratitude_turkeyI’ve recently attended several training sessions at work, aimed at helping managers (I am one of those creatures) create positive work environments.  The last session involved a “Gratitude Tree” poster for the office.

The idea is to write what you’re grateful for on a paper leaf and then place it on the gratitude tree.  The thinking (and there is some actual science behind it) is that focusing on what you are grateful for, even if only briefly, can make you happier; and who doesn’t want to be happy?

My co-workers haven’t exactly warmed up to the idea yet, but I’m still hopeful that they will add a few “gratitude leafs” to the tree so mine isn’t hanging up there all alone.  In the meantime, I’ll add a virtual “gratitude leaf” here and say I am grateful for being a part of this wonderful and supportive network of writers and readers.

And now that I’m in my happy place, it’s time for a few minutes of Random Word Improv before tackling today’s NaNo words.

Care to join me?

Whether you’re counting your blessings, worried about the state of the world, or heads down on your current writing project, a few minutes of Random Word Improv are a great way to have a little fun and recharge your creativity.  It’s pretty chilly here today, so I’ll be doing my sprinting while wrapped up in my favorite quilt with the cat nestled alongside.  Feel free to bundle up and join me, with or without your own cat.


For any of you new to Random Word Improv, here’s how we play:

  1. Pick as many words from the list as you want
  2. Write the first line(s) of a story (or a whole mini-story) incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

All right, let’s get started. Here are today’s randomly selected random words – can’t wait to see what stories you find hidden in the list.

family              guitar               castle                    hero

friends            splurge             glue                       gossip

dessert            uniform            cooperate           catalog

happy              aunt                   fragrant                jewel

Are you ready?  Go!

*whistling aimlessly while you are off being creative*

Back already?  Can’t wait to read what you’ve come up with.

Happy writing to all.

7 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – With Gratitude

  1. LOL, I talk about the black ball of story, and then I click over to the writing sprints, and THERE IT IS! Right there in the body of your turkey. Off to see if I can make a grateful tale from these words.

    You know what they remind me of? Lin-Manuel Miranda’s dad recently took the family to Austria to see the sites of The Sound of Music, and then hired a film crew to record it! Set to the Do-Re-Mi song, it’s a bit of corny happiness . . . and I spent the first 30 seconds of the clip trying to figure out, “Now, is this Miranda doing some sort of green-screen work, or not?” Nope, seems to be his real dad! Two peas in a pod. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWpdYfbyW-k

    • Thanks for the link Michaeline. I’ll have to take a look after I finish my NaNo words today. I posted my improv attempt below. Somehow my plans for a gratitude story disintegrated into a family dinner story instead. Who knows where the words will take you today.

    • LOL, I didn’t use all the words, but I managed to write both a prologue and an afterword in the course of a few hundred words. Here it is:

      Well, the first thing you need to know is that it wasn’t a guitar, it was a ukulele. Different vibe, different gods, different patron saints. I would have turned my nose up at a magic guitar, but a magic ukulele was absolutely charming, and I couldn’t say no.

      It all started at my aunt’s castle in the mountains. She’d married Lord What-his-name, who had the grace to die quickly and quietly, leaving her with loads of money and fifteen cats. She adored the cats, and while she was sad to see Lord go, things were just easier without him. She could have her friends and family up any time, and so she did. Aunt Maisie and my mother and her other sisters were gathered over a uniform catalog, trying to choose new livery trousers for the staff and gossiping about the contents of the previous trousers. I knew they’d be occupied until dessert, so I snuck up to the attic.

      The attic was a wonderful treasury of memorabilia from Lord’s old fight days, and I had spent many a happy Friday evening up there, hoping that they’d forget about bedtimes for small girls, and they often did. The fragrance of old boxing gloves, the trunks full of old clothes and souvenirs from Lord’s and Maisie’s travels, and the old, old magazines talking about the hot topics of two decades ago, frozen in time. It was there that I found the magic ukulele, the instrument that was to bring me fame and drive me to the edge of destruction before reeling me back to safe ground again. In two short decades, I would be the hot topic of magazines, only to be forgotten (blissfully so) after my time had passed. It didn’t matter; I would still have the ukulele, I would meet The Man who had never known me during my worst days, and we would go up to the castle in the mountains, our children hiding in the attic after dinner while we all lingered over dessert. Ah, so much to be thankful for!

  2. Okay, here’s my attempt. I think I got most of the words.


    “Can we all just get along for five more minutes?”

    If looks could kill, Aunt Jewel had just decimated half the family with her laser-like glare. To be fair, the twins and their friends had been baiting Uncle Rusty with their outrageous political comments for the past hour, while Cousin Candace did a hard-sell of her latest weight-loss “miracle” and Aunt Eileen spouted mean-spirited gossip.

    Mother was normally the glue that held our family gatherings together, but t his year she and dad had splurged on a holiday getaway to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Aunt Jewel had stepped in to host the dinner, but no one seemed to be in the mood to cooperate on anything, which is how we wound up with three green bean casseroles and no mashed potatoes.

    On the plus side, the dessert table was practically groaning under the weight of pies, cakes, cookies, and whatever that was simmering in the Crockpot. Our family might not be able to agree on much, desserts were something we were all in favour of.

    “Sorry about all of this,” I said to my friend Peter as we stood to help clear away the main course. “My family is usually much better behaved.” I had invited him to join us when he mentioned at work that he was going to be spending the day alone. He was probably wishing he’d declined the offer.

    He laughed. “This is nothing. Come to my family’s for the next holiday. You’ll wish for your own family back.”

    While we cleared the table, Aunt Jewel wielded the cake knife will military precision, dividing each dessert into uniform pieces. God forbid, someone should get a larger slice than anyone else.

    After the last crumbs of dessert had been consumed peace finally reigned around the table. It’s hard to be cranky when you’ve been lulled into a food coma. Now if we could just get everyone on their way home before Uncle Harry got his second wind and decided to pull out his guitar and start in on the bawdy songs.

    In hindsight, inviting a potential boyfriend to dinner with my extended family probably wasn’t my best decision. On the plus side, he couldn’t say he hadn’t been warned.

    • LOL! Loved it. Two comments: I’ve noticed this year particularly that Thanksgiving Dinner has become a codeword for family strife over societal issues — I keep seeing Thanksgiving Dinner jokes on the late night satire programs. You’ve plugged right into the zeitgeist, I think!

      Plus: nice romance! If he’s worth anything, he won’t be scared off. What is it Papa Bennet says in P&P? “Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity are not worth a regret.” Peter doesn’t seem squeamish at all!

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