Gratitude Writing Exercise and a Casserole Recipe to Save Time

Heya! I want to blog a bit more. As I mentioned in my newsletter, I have NO idea what that means or what form that will take, in part because all of my sage advice can be summed up thusly: Do what works for you. I trust you will figure it out. If you don’t know what works for you, experiment to find those results. (I write this with no irony whatsoever… None at all…) It is the way. There may be a lot of discussion about the “right” way to make art, but there isn’t one singular process that works for everyone.

Today, as I embark on a new manuscript, I am reminded why I did not start this particular story before. Two reasons. First, I wasn’t ready to. And second? I have no idea what is going to happen after it’s done. I don’t mean this in a “Oh, that’s just how the business works!” sort of a way. I mean there’s a good possibility it might not find a home and it shall gather dust on a shelf and be forgotten. Or, the exact opposite could happen. It’s a crap shoot. Experienced novelists used to writing for themselves will likely read this and know exactly where I am right now with respect to my personal storytelling. I’ve been here before, multiple times, but never like this. This story requires the kind of trust I didn’t have before. The faith that this story needs to be told even if it’s never read by another living soul.

I have what I need now, because eventually I figured out I had to make peace with the unknown. My current status allows me to carve time out of my day to work on something for myself and it’s uncomfortable as f***. TRUTH BOMB!

Gratitude Writing Exercise

To help me remain focused, my friend Shveta Thakrar has a wonderful writing exercise we use to ground ourselves before writing.

Simply, list five things you’re grateful for. It’s quick and takes far less time than an A-to-Z gratitude exercise would. Having those five things in writing really crystallizes things you’re happy about and it does help when venturing off into the unknown.

Ham and Green Chili Casserole

Winter is a great time to make casseroles. They are also good for another reason–they help carve out time so you can write. The prep for this mega-Midwestern casserole takes about ten minutes. You can make this for breakfast or have it for dinner.

Ingredients

1 pound cubed ham
1 pound sour cream
1 16oz container fried onions
1 pound shredded cheddar
1 4oz can diced green chiles
Large bag frozen potatoes (cubed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the ham, sour cream, cheddar, and chiles together in a bowl. Spray nonstick cooking oil in a 9 x 13 pan. Spread the potatoes down first in a layer. Then, take your goop (that’s a professional term, by the way) and spread the mixture evenly across the potatoes.

Bake the casserole for thirty minutes uncovered on the middle rack. Remove, then spread the fried onions across the top. Place back in the oven for twenty minutes.

Serves an army.



Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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