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Participant Pep Talk from Maryam Z.

photo of Maryam

You tell yourself you're not going to make it.

It’s too much. You don’t have time. There’s other work to do, and writing isn’t a priority, and why on Earth did you think it would be a good idea to write a novel in a month?

You tell yourself you just can't do it, that the story is best off written by someone else. Leave it to the professionals, you think, as you decide whether to start over or just give up. 

So I'm here to tell you this: your story begs to be written - not by a professional, not by someone else - but by you.

Only you are able to tell your story, with your natural word choice and style. November is about telling the story as it is in its truest form before you refine it: raw, but also something that is more you than the final draft will be. It's purely you pouring your thoughts onto paper, nothing more or less. And it can be too easy to judge yourself, especially with something so personal to you.

But how do you get published without writing a terrible draft first? How do you learn to walk without falling? In November, you need to trip and fall, and you need to do it all over that open document with the blinking cursor, or the bound-up notebook pages just waiting for ink stains and long off-topic rambles to add to your word count.

This month, put quantity over quality. As a perfectionist, I know how hard it is, but I also know that it’s completely possible. 

Now, more than ever, there is a need for your words. Someone out there will see the pieces of you that remain in the final draft, and they will know there is finally someone out there who understands. If you keep writing this month, you will lay down the foundation for a story someone out there will love more than you can ever know.

The only person your story wants to be written by is you, and the only story I want to hear is yours.

~Maryam Z. is a fourteen-year-old participating in her sixth NaNo this year. She enjoys fairy-tale retellings and stories involving pirates, cyborgs, and/or ghosts. For as long as she can remember, she’s loved reading and writing. She aspires to be an author and an activist in the future, but at the moment is balancing these dreams with high school. She has a love for languages, ice-cream, the color blue-green-with-golden-sparkles, kitties, and puns. Also a mirror once tried to kill her.

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