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Participant Pep Talk from Joseph CL

You’ve been working all night.

Now it’s 2 AM. A healthy sense of accomplishment washes over your soul.

You check your screen and your word count.

In one midnight binge, you wrote about two paragraphs—give or take a sentence.

Say what?

Where did all that time go?

Why do your fingers hurt? Why is the rooster crowing? 

But most importantly, where in the world did yesterday’s inspiration go?! You nearly wrote half the entire novel last night! Now all you have is a two-paragraph elucidation of your main character buying groceries. This is preposterous. This is an outrage.

This calls for a snack. (It’s rainbow cookies, for me.)

You sit down on the couch, eating junk food breakfast, and you start wondering why you bothered to write that commentary on grocery shopping anyway.

Sound familiar?

Haha, of course it does! Because that’s me, and if you’re anything like me...

...that just might be you too.

I would argue that all writers encounter this struggle. We all write about grocery stores from time to time, and we all have our comfort foods. But what separates the good from the bad? The proverbial wheat from the chaff?

The answer can seem simple or even obvious, but believe me, it only gets harder from there. The difference between the published and the unpublished is that the published are... *dramatic drum roll*


Further preposterousness! More outrage! You spit the rainbow cookies onto the carpet!
“Don’t be ridiculous!” you say. “I can’t be published!”

Well, why not? Stephen King is published. He’s got 61 published books, not including short stories, and some of them don’t even feel finished! But there they are...all 350 million copies of them.

So what is stopping you from simply going ahead and doing that too?

Too often, our excuse is that our writing is simply not “perfected” yet or that it’s “unfinished”. Right! And who hasn’t finished it? Sometimes we don’t even bother to justify ourselves. Again, if you’re anything like me, you’d probably prefer to fill the hollow hole of writer’s block with rainbow cookies or other treats rather than brainstorming to get your fingers rapping on the typewriter again.

But I’m here to tell you:

That does not have to be the case!

Rainbow cookies and other desserts are delightful, for sure, but in life and in writing, you’ll come to learn an important lesson.

Nothing can be savored more than your own words on white paper.

Yes, it may be discouraging to see page after page full of errors on a screen with no promise of even being there the next day. But there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your story on paper.

Yes, there may be mistakes, but they are your mistakes.

Yes, they need fixing, but you will fix them.

Everyone has a story to share, but not everyone has the opportunity to write one.

So as a storyteller, you have a responsibility and mission to share the one(s) you have with the world!

My greatest fear is dying without having written all the stories that live in my mind.

So I challenge you to forget the fact that it’s bad. Forget the fact that you have four unfinished novellas instead of one rushed-through novel. I challenge you to remember that you can’t afford not to write!

Forget it all and write what is on your mind.

No one can write your story but you. Just write something, print it out, then do it again. Keep doing that and before you know it, you’ve got a manuscript on your hands.

photo of Katherine Y.

Joseph CL (who you might know as Xonos) is a dramatic Taiwanese-American teen living in the grand Empire State of New York. When he’s not being hypocritical with his own advice, you might find him speaking at hyperspeed in Team Policy debate or simply struggling to behave sociably. If you were wondering, he hasn’t quite published anything himself but he already has a comprehensive plan of what he’ll be doing once he’s a millionaire and president of the United States.

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