Pep Talk from Tamora Pierce (2009)

Okay, NaNoWriMo folks, let me guess.

Right now a lot of you are doing the same thing I’m doing, staring at this piece of screen in order to put off actually writing, because at this moment in time the writing is decidedly starting to suck. You are stuck; worse, you’re bored. You’re thinking you were bounced repeatedly on your head when you were small and easy to bounce. You’re thinking you have no talent.

So am I. The chief difference between us, probably, is that I’ve been at this for a long time and I know where to go for help. I know I can throw in a new character and get more content from the way the old ones react to the new one. Who becomes friends; who becomes rivals? Who’s lousy with babies when the newcomer is a baby? Who can’t deal with people who live a non-standard lifestyle?

Have something happen: the power goes out; there’s a car accident; there’s a flood; there’s a war; there’s an epidemic. All kinds of new problems and new heroes arise, often the last people you expected to be heroic. Set characters in motion, even if it’s just to higher ground. You learn something, you can tell us something, by how people deal with with something that requires them to assemble themselves and move from their comfort zone.

Talk it out with someone you trust, someone who shares your tastes. You may not like their ideas, but something they say may spark the idea that will work for you.

Go for a walk. Watch a TV show. Have a nice cup of something soothing. Then throw any old thing at the page. Don’t worry if it’s any good or not. Don’t back up and cut. Don’t rewrite. Just throw whatever comes to mind at the page. The idea is to finish, remember? You have a whole different month for that. ;-)

These times are a colossal pain, there is no denying it. In desperation, I will time my breaks. Twenty minutes to read, and I’m back to the desk, to turn out a page, or two. Another twenty minutes break, then back for that page or two. Sooner or later my characters will get out of the wagon or off the ship, and they’ll start doing things again.

Just keep after it. Think of how proud of yourselves you’ll be once you have that novel-length manuscript in your hand! There is nothing like it, nothing like knowing you have finished something of that length.

Go for it!


Read more author pep talks.