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Pep Talk from Roshani Chokshi

Every year, we ask authors to write pep talk letters with tips and inspiration for everyone participating in NaNoWriMo. Read this week's, and if you need more motivation, check out our pep talk archive.

photo of Roshani Chokshi headshot

Dear NaNo Warrior,

When I was asked to write a pep talk letter, I had a thousand ideas on what to say about finding the resilience to power through awful drafts, the nature of inspiration and letting a story surprise you…

But now, like the rest of the world, I am looking around with a peculiar anguish. I am selfishly nostalgic for a time of not knowing. Of not receiving notifications on my phone about bombings and violence, earthquakes and fires. We are all tapped into a collective and continuous vein of ruin. For many of us, the act of daydreaming might feel treasonous. How dare we escape to a world in our own mind? How dare we look away? How are we supposed to imagine when reality has become unimaginable?

Every time I have sat down to write, lead creeps into my blood. I am filled with an overwhelming sense of diminishment. Here I am, grumbling about my stubbed toe, the fact that my coffee has gone cold when I could’ve sworn I just made it while I am concerned about my “silly little act III” in my “silly little book” in my “silly little world” when outside…well.

We all know what’s outside.

A few days ago, I came across this quote from Maya Angelou: “When I’m writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness.” Reading that felt like being granted permission to daydream, to smile, to allow joy to coexist alongside bewilderment and pain.

When I first started writing, I was asked “why” quite a lot. Why am I writing, why this book, why this approach. In an effort to make an intelligent impression, I dug into my subconscious and pulled out answers that looked good on paper. This isn’t to say that those answers weren’t true, but they weren’t all of the truth. Why am I writing? Because I want to. Why this book? Because I want to. Why this approach? Because I want to.

Look, you don’t have to dismantle tyrannical governments with the power of your written word to justify telling a story. What I had dismissed as my own “silly little book” amidst my “silly little word” is anything but that. Joy is defiant. Imagination is rebellion. To wring a silver lining out of thunderstorms isn’t for the faint of heart. What you are doing is brave and meaningful. Every story has meaning because every voice is different. Every life is a lens refashioning the ordinary into the extraordinary. And you, right now, right this second, are part of that ancient and sacred tradition of storytellers. You are wringing silver lines. You are coaxing smiles out of the dark. You are sanctifying the silly in a world that needs joy more than ever.

So if you feel stuck — and you will, for magic is never easy — because the world is too loud, I promise you that your voice will always be louder.

With love,


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Roshani Chokshi is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestselling series The Star-Touched Queen, The Gilded Wolves and Aru Shah and The End of Time, which Time Magazine named one of the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time. Chokshi’s adult debut, The Last Tale of The Flower Bride, was a #1 Sunday Times bestseller. Her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages and often draw upon world mythology and folklore. Chokshi is a member of the National Leadership Board for the Michael C. Carlos Museum and lives in Georgia with her husband and their cat whose diabolical plans must regularly be thwarted.

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