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Participant Pep Talk from Haley K.

Welcome to the end, my fellow Wrimos!

You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I can hear some some despairing voices. "I can't do this," I hear from the dark corners of Writer’s Block and Procrastination. "There's no way I'll be able to catch up!" Do you know how many of you there are, doing this same yearly sprint of words? (That itself should raise you up!) I can give you some pointers, though. Proceed.

Your feet have fallen asleep long ago, because you have been staring at this computer screen for the past three hours, and you haven't moved a muscle.

Get up. I enjoy playing a Japanese dancing video game, and I feel like it keeps the ideas moving. I create noveling playlists. Draw a picture. Keep a notepad handy to capture any ideas on. The point is do something different. Staring at the screen is like sitting at the bottom of Writer’s Block mountain, and telling yourself that you will never be able to get over it.

See life from a different perspective. When I look into the mirror, I wonder how I look to other people. Do I look the same to them, as I do in my own eyes? Try something that will make you look at the world in a different way. When I was younger, I would flip over the couch to be upside down. Then I would pretend I was walking on the ceiling. Walking over light fixtures, stepping over the tops of doorways.

When ideas are ready, they will come, all you need to do is be ready (and maybe write something random so you can still get your word count in). Good ideas don't care about word counts, or deadlines. I wish that they did. *sigh*

What have you gone through recently? One trick to writing an amazing book is to turn your experiences into a piece of you that people can read and relate to.

Actual examples: I am short. I eat a lot. I am an awful runner. I made my characters deal with these things, too. When you add your imperfections, triumphs, and total flops to your story, your characters become relatable, because they can help readers feel and become better. That is the magic of storytelling.

We are each a story. We are just like our stories, screaming that we need to fix our mistake on page one. And yes, fix them, but finish the first draft first. I wish we could all—poof!—be perfect. But the best way to become better is to try. You wish your novel could be born a bestseller and fly off the shelves, don't you? You dream of days when it will change the world. Give it a chance first. Give yourself a chance. Please don't beat yourself up.

Remember your story’s greatest wish right now is for you to hold out until the end. Your novel is your creation, formed of ideas carefully molded, characters painstakingly crafted and developed, and your heart and soul. Your story will change the lives of those who read it for years to come, even if that is only you. My favorite NaNo novel has stayed with me for years, urging me to continue. Yours can, too.

So stop reading this, and go back to the page, my dear writer. Keep writing. Fall in love with your characters again. Every minute is worth it.

Haley K. is seventeen, and currently living in Eastern Idaho. She discovered NaNoWriMo about nine years ago and loves it. This is her last NaNo on the Young Writers Program website. Other than writing, she enjoys drawing (especially eyes), piano, learning French, and talking your ears off. She is fascinated with water, the relationship between light & darkness, and human anatomy. Writing is one of her favorite things because she can teach important lessons, and also it is very addicting.

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