Nano Pep Talks

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Beware, sweet, innocent, aspiring writer. People aren't telling you this, and they should be.
NaNoWriMo participants are being deceived into thinking that being an author is a good thing. But
you don't know. You don't know the horrors you might face as a professional, published, full-time
author.
I could tell you. I could go on for hours about all the things that threaten my peace of mind. I could
for you a tale unfold that would harrow up your carpal tunnels and chill the very marrow of your
finger bones: tales of the constant questions, the unending deadlines, the mind-bending task of
deciding each and every day which hours you will spend writing.
But never mind all of that. Best not to dwell on the worst. Instead, let us concentrate on what you
must do to avoid this horrible fate, and save yourself agonies untold.
First and foremost, and I cannot stress this enough: do not sit down at the keyboard and write on
a regular basis. This is a trap. You can tell yourself that you're only doing it to scratch an itch, that
you only need to get a few hundred words written and then you can set it aside--but the siren
clickclickabulation of the dancing keys will do more than merely produce words on a page. It will
condition you to want, nay, to need to do it each and every day.
And if that happens, there is simply no way, in the long run, to avoid the most lamentable and
horrible fate of finishing a novel.
Whatever you do, do not seek feedback from readers and other writers. Bad enough that you
work in a vacuum, allowing the authoric energies to work their demonic way on your thoughts--if
you add to that the feedback of the work's intended audience, you will only establish the primary
mechanism of making your writing more effective for those for whom it is meant.
This is a doubly pernicious practice! Not only does it seduce you to create more material for your
audience, but it creates more audience for your material in an infernal feedback loop. I cannot
stress to you enough how much you need to avoid this part of the process! Save yourself!
A further horrible mistake I can recognize only in retrospect: do not inform yourself about the
publishing industry and the demons who labor therein. Oh, certainly, those people, those editors,
may seem to be witty and charming and friendly at writing conventions and on workshop panels,
but make no mistake. Their only purpose in life is to draw you into their evil plans, and force you
to labor for them while they help you hone your writing craft.
Many aspiring writers are intimidated by editors, and I cannot help but emphasize how much
credit you should give to these instincts, placed there for the protection of your sanity and whole
mind. If you allow yourself to overcome this natural inclination, it may be too late for you to
escape your fate.
Finally, I can only encourage each and every aspiring author out there to quit writing at the first
opportunity and never look back. This seemingly harmless activity is anything but, and if you
cannot break its hold on you, if you continue to make up one excuse after another to keep typing,
if you find yourself promising yourself "just one more novel" and never draw away from it, you will
inevitably be drawn into published perdition.

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All you need do is quit! Just say no! And you will be saved! But if you continue, and continue, and
continue despite all the sane voices trying to sway you, you will be drawn into the maelstrom of
madness that is the life of a professional writer.…read more

Page 3

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Imagine being allowed to do something you're not supposed to do.
Imagine you're given the keys to a mud-bogging Bronco, or a dune buggy, or a Lamborghini. And
then, you're pointed toward a field. A soccer field outside a high school, or maybe just a wide
open grassland. Nobody there. No kids playing. No animals frolicking. In fact, right now, nobody is
here to see you at all.…read more

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Leave your mark.
Dear Wrimos,
Of everything I have ever learned as a literary agent and as a writer, there is one lesson that I think
is more important than any other: you must write for your life.
And so this is for those of you who have always known that you wanted to be a writer, and for
those of you who write every day. It's for those of you who have yet to put a single word on paper,
too.…read more

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Write for your life.
Pull your favorite, tattered, dog-eared book off the shelves. Find a chapter that leaves you
breathless. Start typing it out in a new document, word for word. Don't just type blindly; think
about what you're writing. For me, something about this exercise helps me see the genius in the
other writer's storytelling, and will stimulate my own writing and thoughts. Be careful, of course,
that you don't end up plagiarizing it right into your novel...…read more

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That means it's a book, while your idea is just an idle fancy. My dog used to
dream about chasing rabbits; she didn't write a novel about chasing rabbits. There is a difference.
Dear Speed Racers of Literature,
As I write this to you, I am myself deep in the midst of a breakneck race toward a novel deadline.…read more

Page 7

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Tell it fast before you get scared and silence yourself. You'll never wish you'd held back a little
more.
Here you go.
A pristine, untouched month.
An empty screen.
Blank pages.
Before the writing actually starts, the possibilities seem without limit. This is the moment that will
soon end, so it's important to enjoy it.
The minute a word is committed to paper, as soon as a path is chosen, it gets harder. You now
have one day less of time to write the novel.…read more

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Let this be one of the joys of NaNoWriMo. As the month progresses, as you print out another
day's worth of writing and add it to the stack of pages, embrace the sheer delight of seeing the
world of your making assemble itself before you. The story within those pages will hold the real
power, but don't underestimate the weight of the physical object. You are building something that
will sustain you long after this month is over.…read more

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When writing a novel, make sure you've upgraded to grown-up ontology. The real world is full of
gnarly details, and whenever you think you have a handle on how complex something is, it just
gets gnarlier. (If you just wondered what the hell a parasitic wasp is, the answer will depend on
which of the 20,000 species of parasitic wasps you're
talking about.…read more

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What if one of your lovers comes from another country? There can be cultural clashes, language
confusions, visa problems, political disagreements, and lost passports. All that from simply
remembering that not everyone has the same nationality.
So that's my advice if you're running out of steam. It's not always about writing more words or
drinking more coffee.…read more

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