How Writing Is Like Thanksgiving Dinner 

We’re counting down the days until Thanksgiving arrives next week, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably becoming a little frantic by now, running around planning menus, getting the silver polished (okay, I have stainless steel, but I still check that it’s clean—and so should you), and making sure the tablecloth is pressed and ready to go.

This year, my sister is cooking dinner, so I’m off the hook (and I couldn’t be more grateful—see what I did there? 😊).

Having all this extra time on my hands has got me to thinking, and it occurred to me that writing is a lot like Thanksgiving dinner.

I know. It may seem like an unlikely metaphor, but hear me out:

First off, on Thanksgiving, as in writing, the best experience comes when you know and follow the rules.

When you’re cooking for Thanksgiving, the rules tell you that there have to be certain foods, as a bare minimum, if you expect your holiday meal to be well received—the turkey, for example, along with some kind of vegetable and some variety of potato.

We can equate the generic Thanksgiving menu with the rules of grammar and spelling. Without a firm grasp of the basics as the star of the show, you’ve got nothing to build on. Your writing will be like a Thanksgiving dinner without Tom Turkey, all savory and crisp in the center of the table.

Second, in both Thanksgiving dinner and in writing, you need to have style. In other words, you need to know when—and how—it’s okay (and even encouraged) to break the rules so you can put your own personal spin on things.

Maybe instead of the traditional green bean casserole (which, we all need to admit, has been done to death), you might whip up a side dish of brussels sprouts with maple and bacon. Whatever you decide depends on your unique point of view—in Thanksgiving just as in writing.

And finally, your Thanksgiving dinner needs characters. Whether your particular crew consists of your crazy in-laws, your favorite cousin and her kids, your best friend since kindergarten, or (if you’re really and truly alone for the holiday) even just the terrible lip-syncing celebrities on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, your Thanksgiving isn’t complete without people who are full of quirks and strengths and weaknesses.

Neither is your writing.

I wish you a very happy (and stress-free) Thanksgiving. And don’t forget to write down all the nutty things your aunt Mabel says after she polishes off that bottle of sherry. Trust me. You’ll be thankful you did.

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