Change the refrain by Patty Blount

Like most of my writer colleagues, writing in the middle of a pandemic has been nearly impossible for me.

Nothing matters.

It feels so pointless right now. I can't concentrate, can't find my flow, can't find the spark that so often fuels my writing process. I keep trying but it's simply not there.

And I'm not alone, as others have written in their posts to this blog. In fact, it appears that a lack of creativity for artists is almost as pandemic as the pandemic.

A friend of mine once gave me a gratitude journal. The premise is simple. Fill each page with 3 things you're grateful for each day.

I grabbed a pen and ....nothing happened. I couldn't think of anything to be grateful for. I mean, sure, I'm grateful for my family but the journal also had space for WHY. Why specifically am I grateful?

That took some effort.

The human brain is wired for negativity. It's part of our fight-or-flight response. We can instantly spot things to be afraid of, to run away from, to hate, to fear. Just stating the things I'm grateful for fell flat and felt empty of any meaning.

So, how do you identify the WHY for all the things you're grateful to have? Spotting those takes some practice. I had to dig deep. It took me several days -- weeks in fact, to be able to change the refrain in my mind. Instead of saying, "Well, of course, I'm grateful for my family. Isn't everybody? I have children who love me, a husband who works super hard for us.... blah blah blah..."

I changed the refrain so it wasn't forced, wasn't a greeting card commercial, wasn't an expectation or a demand, but a genuine, from-the-heart, affirmation. Specifically, I used a post another friend put in a Facebook group that began with the words I GET TO.

  • I get to hang out with my son who likes to spend time with me and actively seeks me out to share games and books, invites me to join him with his friends, and plans activities like these so we can spend even more time together. (Not just, "I'm grateful for my son.")
  • I get to text and Facetime with my son who lives out of state and help him plan special events for his girlfriend because he values my opinions and wants to make these events fun for the young lady he adores. (Not just, "I'm grateful for my son.")
  • I get to watch my sons make decisions that will impact their lives. (Not just, "I'm grateful my sons are good people.")
  • I get to fuel my body with the foods it needs to manage inflammation and pain so I can function with fewer meds and less pain.  (Not just, "I'm grateful for my health.") 
  • I get to go to work each day in exchange for benefits and a paycheck where I engage with people I respect and learn from. (Not just, "I'm grateful I still have a job.")
  • I get to be / stay married to a man who works his butt off to provide us with the life we enjoy, who loves me as I am, and can be trusted with my heart. 
I started using the I GET TO refrain with my writing. It's no longer, "I have to write a thousand words" or "I have to revise an entire chapter." 

Instead, it's "I get to create a whole new scene today." Or perhaps more to the point: 

"I get to sink into a world of my own creation where COVID19 does not exist nor have any impact." 
"For the next hour, I get to hang out with people who exist only in my own mind where there is no chance I will be infected." 

Just using the words, I GET TO helps formulate the statement that follows as an affirmation of gratitude. 

If you're feeling completely empty, creatively-speaking, how can changing your refrain help you? Tell me in the comments. 


  1. I like the I Get To option. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Wow! I 'got' to read your amazing words...and now, I get to put them into action. Thank you. I needed this. xoxo

    1. Isn't it amazing how our own minds can alter our reality?

  3. I love this post! I plan to blatantly steal "I Get To" for my own use...because boy, do I need it! Thank you, Patty!


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