Pep Talk from Gennifer Albin

photo of Gennifer Albin

When the lovely folks at NaNoWriMo asked me to write a pep talk, they pointed to me to the archive of past pep talkers for inspiration. What I found was the exact opposite. The archive held a list of talks from much more intelligent, much wittier, and most disconcertingly, much more writerly authors than I.

I, dear Wrimos, was in over my head.

I agonized for a few days over my predicament. Not only had I agreed to write a pep talk, but I suffer from a particularly strong case of tenacity. I didn't like feeling that I couldn't do it. Still, any way I cut it, I was the newbie. The rookie in a line-up of veteran writers with awards and bestsellers and huge book deals under their belts.

And then it hit me—as truth often will. There is one fundamental thing I have in common with these rock stars of the writing world. It's something many of you share with them as well. And by November 30, hopefully all of you will.

I wrote a book.

It sounds so simple, but it's true. I wrote a book. I put butt in chair and got from beginning to end. Oh, there's the nasty business of revision and editing in there, too. But the one thing I know undeniably links me to people like John Green, Piers Anthony, and Philip Pullman is that we all wrote books, and all those books started as drafts much like the one you're working on right now.

How many times as a writer have you gotten so caught up in the next step of the writing process that you lose sight of the real finish-line: getting to the end? Are you suffering from a case of go-back-and-fix-it, or worse, page-perfectionitis? Stop worrying about editing or finding the perfect word, and just get to the end.

There will be time yet for a "million visions and revisions." But you cannot be a writer if you don't write. It's as simple as that. I lost sight of that when I opened the link to those pep talks. For a moment I failed to see that I'd already crossed the line that separated me from would-like-to-be and am. I am a writer. I write books. And if you're writing this month, you can say the same thing. In fact, say it right now. I'll wait.

No, really. Say it.

I am a writer. I write books.

Even better, grab a sticky note, write it down, and post it next to your computer. Own it. It's yours!

The real secret is that anyone can write a book. There's no initiation ceremony. No dues to pay. You don't need a special degree from a fancy school. Writing is for everyone, and this is your chance to scrawl your name across the page. By month's end, you'll have done that which many dream of, but never accomplish.

You already have a leg up from all the would-like-to-be's out there. You're here. You've surrounded yourself with people who are driven to tell stories. The NaNoWriMo community is full of people who understand that sometimes characters talk to you at inopportune times. They understand what it's like to live with a foot in two worlds. They know that reality and fiction blur, and they're one heck of a support group.

And if you've gotten to the end of this, stop procrastinating and start writing.

Gennifer Albin

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Gennifer Albin is the author of Crewel, which she wrote during NaNoWriMo 2010. Previously, she was an academic with a specialization in 18th century women's studies. Gennifer lives in Kansas with her husband, two children, and cat.