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Pep Talk from Jasmine Guillory

photo of Jasmine Guillory

Dear Writer,

Sometimes writing feels impossible. I’m sure you all know that by now: there are days when the blank page overwhelms you, days where you have no idea what to write, or days where you do know what you want to write but the version you get down on paper disappoints you. And there are often days when the idea of writing a whole entire book seems like the hardest thing in the world, something you absolutely cannot do.

I’ve drafted seven books now and published four, and I have moments in every book where I feel like this. Sometimes, I feel like this almost every day I sit down to write. But those are the days (and the books) where I’m so grateful for NaNoWriMo. When I think it’s impossible to write 10,000, or 20,000, or 40,000 more words, I look back through my word-count spreadsheet. I see how those words each day have added up, because of every day that I’ve written 500, or 1,667, or 2,000 words. 

When I feel I just can’t write, I think of those other days where I felt I just couldn’t write and did it anyway. 

I remember those days where I wrote anyway and had a breakthrough, or even the days where it was hard as heck the whole time but the act of actually doing it made me feel all over again that yes, I can do this; I want to do this; I’m going to keep doing this.

So do that right now. Go back and think about that day when you first opened the notebook for this project, or started that document. Think about how blank that page was then, and about how many words you have now. Think about how that number of words felt impossible, insurmountable on that very first day. Think about how much you’ve already accomplished, and how hard you’ve worked; the breakthroughs you’ve already had, and the hard days you’ve pushed through. Think about how proud of yourself you are for everything you’ve done so far this month.

And along those same lines, please stop beating yourself up for everything you haven’t done. Stop thinking about those days you only eked out a few hundred words, stop being mad at yourself for the days when you chose sleep, or seeing friends, or just scrolling through Twitter over writing. It’s okay to rest sometimes, and being mad at yourself for that doesn’t help you. Instead, celebrate yourself for how far you’ve come!

And then think about how much farther you can go. You can do it. I believe in you. I believe in all of us. Let’s all get back to work.

Jasmine Guillory is the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Date, The Proposal, The Wedding Party, and Royal Holiday. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Real Simple, Oprah, and She lives in Oakland, California.

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