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Participant Pep Talk from Teddy B.

Hey Wrimos! How goes the writing? Maybe you’re right on track, the words are flowing, the plot is progressing, and you’re having a great time. However, maybe things aren’t going quite as well as you’d hoped. And I’m here to say: that’s okay. And it’s more than okay, it’s likely beneficial to you and your novel, no matter how frustrating it is right now.

Getting stuck when we write is what drives us to become better. How will we ever know what works if we try what doesn’t, time and time again? There’s no manual to writing a good novel. The creative process is not a uniform step-by-step one. We’ve all got to find what works for us, through experimentation—and getting it wrong.

Hitting that dreaded wall and getting frustrated are catalysts of good writing. When your story drags, make your main character run away, betray their best friend, or go on an unplanned trip to Venice just before school exams.

A writer’s conflict with their novel creates excellent conflict within the novel. This holds true especially working under tight timelines like NaNoWriMo, because we can get a little desperate when things don’t seem to be working out. And when we’re desperate, we get creative.

If you never get stuck, you'll never come up with that wild idea to move your plot along that turns out to be the highlight of your book. If you never get frustrated, you won't write that passionate scene of dialogue, or a wicked fight scene.

And if you never get confused, never get lost in all the twists and turns in your novel, and think to yourself, "what am I doing here? What was I even trying to do when I was starting out?", you'll never gain that incredibly intimate understanding of what is your likely deeply flawed first draft.

This NaNo, get lost in your novel. Make mistakes. Mess around; write the beginning of six different stories and see which one you like best. Or write the same story six different ways. The only way you don’t improve at writing is by not writing at all. Every time you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, you’re getting better at the craft, even if it’s just by learning what not to do.

This month isn't about writing a perfect novel; it's about writing a first draft. Get dirty, experiment, and have fun! You'll likely have a better novel, and be a better writer at the end of the month.

So have heart, dear Wrimo, and write! Charge into the unknowable void with confidence in your heart, a pen in your hand, and all of us at your back. You’ve got this. We believe in you.

photo of Teddy

As a five-time NaNo-er, Teddy B. has written many bad stories, and maybe even a few decent ones. He’s found the whole experience brilliant. Despite being Canadian, he has never seen a moose in his life, and thinks snow-shoeing is terrifying. Teddy enjoys reading and writing, and will stay up far too late doing both. He plays the trombone and the saxophone and loves science, math, and history. You can bet he’s always got five novels on the go, and is thinking up at least five more.

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