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Participant Pep Talk from Ethan K.


Do you feel stuck?

Did you maybe not plan enough and now you don’t know what to do?

Or perhaps you planned too much and now you don’t want to do it?

Do you kind of just want to give up and try again next year?

Well, don’t. Keep reading instead.

If you're really stuck, especially on something character related, try to become your main character (or any character you’ve been struggling with) for the day. Characters build a story because they give it meaning, so any issues with your novel will be, at least indirectly, related to the character. And if you’re bored, this is just a fun way to get excited about your book again :).

This is especially helpful if you're an actor, but anyone can do it (I have friends who hate acting and absolutely love this exercise).

I know, it sounds ridiculous, but hear me out: Pick the character you're having difficulty with, and adopt at least 2-3 of their qualities (dressing and walking like them are two personal favorites, but you can also adopt one of their catchphrases for the day, or pay more attention in their favorite subject, or maybe listen to their favorite band or read their favorite book) for the day. This helps you understand them because it helps you understand WHY they act a certain way or enjoy certain things. And character motivation drives their actions, which drives the plot.

If you're worried that people will notice, they probably won't. In the previous examples, you aren't just changing your personality, but almost jumping into their body by changing slight aspects of your presentation/mindset for the day. Besides being SO MUCH FUN, it helps get fully inside your character's mind. This trick is super helpful in general because the characters and their motivations (or lack thereof) make or break a story, especially if you're struggling with character driven struggles.

This has pulled me out of the dreaded pit of writing despair SO MANY times. Don’t give up! Don’t give into self-doubt or lack of motivation. Just become. Let the story live inside you. Make it real. And most importantly, understand.

I believe in you. Let yourself inhabit your character for a bit.

Keep writing and keep having fun. Enjoy this month. Give yourself a break. Make your character go to school for you instead. You’ll never write the same way again. You can thank me later.

Good luck, and happy writing!

photo of Ethan K.

Ethan K. is a writer who enjoys writing, acting, debating, and counting down the days until they can vote. They are currently in 10th grade, where they bother their teachers endlessly by constantly asking to write extra paragraphs to make essay prompts more interesting and insightful. When Ethan isn’t doing any of these various activities, they are taking a long four hour nap at far too late an hour that they will, without fail, regret later. On a totally unrelated note, they are horribly bad at learning from their mistakes. Ethan is unpublished (for now), and hopes to publish poetry sometime in the next few years.

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