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YWP Participant Pep Talk from Caroline S.

Alright folks, it’s time. Curtains: drawn for the moment. Actors: stressed out of their minds and running purely on coffee. The director, however, is excited. Every lost prop, every missed line, every failure of the lights and mics has led to this moment.

Because tragic though those failures sound, they make a show the best it could ever be. Why? Because it will never be a show again. There is no ‘doing better next time’ because each performance is a brand new play, a brand new — you guessed where this metaphor is going — novel!

Let’s start simple: Hi. I am a human, just like you, and I write novels. Out of all the things I like doing, this is the most painful, and the most enjoyable as well. It all started with a single long-forgotten friend telling me they liked what I’d written down, all the way back in elementary school. We all know how important the opinion of an eight year old can be. From that day on, I kept at it, and discovered more and more people were willing to praise me for my work.

Do you, like me, rely on positive reinforcement and the thrill of a deadline to get things done? Perhaps you desire something closer to empirical, constructive criticism. Is a halfhearted “Hey, this is great!”’ really going to help you learn what you can improve on? Now, I’m not saying praise isn’t good — maybe all you need is a well placed compliment or moving speech to start your journey. Lucky for you, you’ve found it.

I’m here for you, reader. Everyone participating in National Novel Writing Month is too! We gather every November, like cultists to a bonfire, to not only write our own stories but support each other, share in our successes, downfalls, and keyboard smashing fits of rage. Even if you, like me, cuddle your precious stories close and refuse to let anyone see them, there’s no harm in sitting down with a friend and typing in silence.

Practice grants clarity, reader. After a prolonged period of time spent writing, you’ll come to learn your strengths and your weaknesses. The sooner you know what you struggle at, the sooner you can weaponize it.

As the saying goes, know thine enemies, and if you don’t, then go seek them out. Whether it’s your inner editor, the demon of doubt, lion of lackluster narration, tapir of poor time management or axolotl of asinine alliterations, find them and slay them all!

Will you let them tell you it’s not going to work? No! Face them down however you like. Pull the dragon from its cave and behead it in the most dramatic way possible, or shoot it in the heart the way James Bond would do! Hype yourself up, make yourself proud, and fight for the story you want to tell! Because it’s your novel. The editing can work itself out once you’re sure the story you want to tell is told.

Dearest reader, not everyone can help with your writing problems. If all your lines of defense fail, the only advice I can give is to take a break. Write something you’d normally never even consider! Flip the world upside down… literally, if you feel like it.

Well? What are you waiting for? Get out there and claim your personal theme song, your mind blowing awesome action sequences, the romance, the angst, that one side character you love more than your protagonist! And, of course… your complimentary Starbucks’ worth of coffee. Clink clink, cheers mate.

photo of Caroline S.

Caroline, self described friendly neighbourhood lunatic, is currently a freshman in high school. She adores pop music and learning languages — she has taught herself Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and is working on Hindi. Her favourite forms of media are Bollywood/Tollywood movies (watched exclusively with her mum), anime, and k- pop. She is a die hard STAY, ready and willing to rant to anyone who listens about how amazing it is to be one. And she prefers writing in British syntax.

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