NaNoWriMo Pep Talk from Doyle Slen

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Get ready for some literary clichés, because they’re going to be coming fast and furious.

Fangsgiving has come and gone like the wind taking week three with it. The turkey and ham are being used to fill sandwiches made of dinner rolls smeared with cold mashed potatoes and gravy. Frankly, my dears, you should give a damn. The long nights and bloodshot eyes and cramped, arthritic fingers and caffeine overdosing and finding space for Juan Valdes and his burro to crash and the looks from family and friends when you say, “Oh, I have to write,” are all worth it.

When I first started writing, I attended a meeting at The Quillians clubhouse in Second Life. Michael Stackpole was leading the event. It was a question and answer time for new writers with published authors. It was an eye-opening experience for me. The most notable thing was a poster they had on the wall behind Michael’s chair.

“If you treat it like a hobby it will pay like one. If you treat it like a business it will pay like one.”

Now I understand life gets in the way and disrupts the flow of writing, and November is the beginning of the holiday season in the U.S. Family members don’t understand; if they aren’t writers, they don’t get the burning intensity of building your world and breathing life into it. Work gets in the way, so do children and school needs. For some, this year is not THE year, and we lament with them.

Writing takes dedication, and I’ll toss in my favorite quote for emphasis:

“Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that, when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.”
― Lili St. Crow

Even if you can’t find time to pound out 1667 words a day, you need to find fifteen minutes to write something. Anything. A song. A poem. Lament your inability to find a topic worthy of your attention. Perhaps even an interpretive dance. You have a story inside your head screaming to get out. You can’t do anything without thinking about it. It burns just behind your eyes. the characters are clamoring like a horde of middle schoolers at their first dance. You owe it to yourself to write every day. This year may not be your year, but maybe next year will be.

The hobbyists are mostly gone now. The idea of scribbling out 50k words in a month sounds like fun until you’re a week in and have 500 words down and no prospects for further production. This is where the rubber hits the road. Don’t stop just because you won’t make the word count. This is the time to hunker down and grind it out. Reach deep and pull out the win.

My small region in central Florida has produced nearly one million words this NaNo. Your story matters. Every story matters. The more that are written and in circulation the better.

Clichés done. Get back to work.

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