NaNoWriMo Pep Talk from Ercila Robbins (aka Susan Agatha Davis)

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Good morning fellow scriveners! Now that you’ve jumped out of bed, jogged your two miles, taken a hot shower and had a good breakfast, it’s time to write!

I’m dreaming, right? After all, I write fiction. Getting up, jogging, showering and having breakfast BEFORE I write is NOT how I start my day. If I did, I’d never get to the writing.

Writing is what I do first thing in the morning. And last thing at night. And if I need a break from “real life.” And sometimes at 3 am when I have this great idea and it just doesn’t go away. Jogging, eating, sleeping, showering is what I do BETWEEN spells of writing.

I want to take a moment to offer a piece of advice for when you’re stuck. I usually get stuck because: a) my story is too long, and I got lost in it; b) I’m struggling with this one scene, and it’s holding up the rest of the book; or c) I alter my routines.

For long stories, stop and make an outline/timeline. List each scene, with the characters and one or two significant points. Summarize. This way when you’re staring at the page and going, “Wait, how did I get here? What’s supposed to happen next?” You’ll know. It’s also good to create vignettes of your scenes and then splice them together later – like creating the parts of a crossword puzzle and then matching the edges. (Sometimes you have to trim the edges for a good fit.)

When you’ve got that one scene that just won’t work for you, don’t throw it out! The most common advice I hear from people is, “If it doesn’t work, chuck it.” No. That’s just being lazy. Write it first! THEN if it doesn’t work, chuck it! Just get it down on paper any way you can. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to fit just right. Why? Because there’s a reason that scene found its way into your head. It has a meaning, a purpose. Often, after I’ve finished, and it still doesn’t quite work, I put it into a folder to use it in the next book! Don’t be afraid of sweating it out. Nothing good comes easy.

Routines are essential for writers. You write best at the desk by your bed? Write there! All the time! You write best at a library? On the front deck? By the beach! WRITE THERE! 3 amMidnight? Only on Saturdays? Call it discipline. Call it habit. Call it superstition. Go with what works.

Finally, there’s an old Biblical saying, “A prophet is never recognized in his own home.” The people who are closest to us, usually family members, are often the people who are the least interested in our writing. Don’t get discouraged because they “don’t get it.” We’re writers.  We’re a tribe. We have NaNoWriMo.

Go NaNoWriMo!

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