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Pep Talk from Maurene Goo

photo of V.E. Schawb

Dear Writer,

I just watched Phoebe Waller-Bridge win an Emmy for writing. In her acceptance speech she said, “Writing is really hard.”

Me, as I sat there watching the Emmys instead of writing: “YES, IT IS, PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE."

I had productive plans for today but the only thing I managed to do was kill all the ants in my bathroom. And now it’s almost 11 PM and I have to hit my word count after I finish writing this pep talk about writing.

The truth is that everyone who has attempted to finish a novel knows that writing is hard. It feels like the single most impossible task. And there are a million reasons why this could be: A bit of fear and self-sabotage. A true dark void in your brain where creativity should be. Children that need to be kept alive. A job that makes you want to smash your computer at the end of the day. It’s endless. And I empathize.

But the only thing you can do to finish that book is to write it. Unfortunately. But, also? Fortunately.

Because that is the one thing we can control as writers. You need to brush off that hubris and stare hard into it until you see the words ‘I have a story that should be shared.’ You’ve got to reach into some deep part of yourself buried under all the reasons why you can’t, and remember why you wanted to do this.

And once you remember why, you may have to find some pragmatic ways to make the writing happen. Because not everyone has natural self-discipline. (Who really does, who are you people, did you all become CEOs?) Or the time. Or even the natural talent, if I’m being honest. But everyone who finishes a book has one thing in common: follow-through.

During NaNoWriMo, you’re not alone in this impossible task. This month is a great time to find whatever method is necessary to make that happen. Whether it’s waking up early or staying up late. Having accountability buddies to work with in thirty-minute sprints. Turning off the internet in some very annoying way that is tedious to undo. Promising yourself a reward at the end of every writing sprint—like a soothing five minutes of watching videos from that British farm account on Instagram.

Whatever it is, be flexible and see what works for you. Then stick to it. No one creates art half-heartedly. Even when they pretend to. Because writing is really hard. And only the tough survive.

Be one of them.

x M

Maurene Goo is the author of several acclaimed books for young adults, including I Believe in a Thing Called Love and The Way You Make Me Feel. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and cat, Maeby.

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