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Participant Pep Talk from Nicole C.

photo of Nicole

It's easy to love a novel you haven't written yet. 

When your novel is just an outline, or a handful of characters, or a gleaming idea you came up with thirty minutes before you started typing on November 1st, it's easy to see its potential. When all you have is the blueprint of a novel, it's easy to imagine it as a well-constructed house - a novel with vivid characters, perfect prose, and an impeccable plot.

But writing a novel isn't like building a house. It's sloppier than that. NaNoWriMo is more like throwing a bunch of shingles and wood planks and nails on the ground. Later, you come back and turn it into something that looks more like a building.

When you write the first draft of a novel, you're letting your imagination go crazy, coming up with all sorts of raw material that can be turned into a finished novel one day. It might be a little muddled, and weird, and it might not make all that much sense. That's okay. That's normal. Because you aren't building a house, you're building a novel. And you need to make a big mess first, before you can mold that mess into something incredible.

The thing is, sometimes you're going to hate your novel.

I've never written a novel that I haven't despised at some point. I get sick of the clumsy writing and the meandering plot and start to wonder why I ever got myself into this disaster in the first place. As soon as I start putting down sloppy sentences and drafting scenes that were much more exciting in my head, I can’t help but be disappointed that my novel isn’t living up to that impeccable ideal I had before I started writing. Soon enough I start to forget what I was even going for in the first place, what that beautiful, innovative, well-constructed dream house even looked like.

So take a moment to remind yourself. Because I've never written a novel that I haven't loved at some point either.

What made you want to embark on this crazy adventure in the first place? What ideas made your heart beat? What excited you about your novel? What was it about your blueprint that made you want to try to build a house? Take a minute to refocus and recapture that feeling of excitement. 

Right now you don't need perfection - that comes later. All you need is faith in that blueprint that you were so passionate about. That’s what will drive you to finish. 

Now get writing!

Nicole C. is a junior in high school, and she’s been writing stories for as long as she can remember. Her first NaNoWriMo experience was in 2012. When she isn’t reading, playing bass, or preparing for a career in medicine, she’s writing. (Or, full disclosure, thinking about how she probably should be writing.) She can never make her mind up on her favorite genre, but she’s fond of magic, history, and some good old fashioned teenage angst, and uses them liberally in her writing.

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