“The wand chooses the wizard:” A NaNoWriMo Pep Talk for Week Three

We have passed the halfway point of the month and are solidly into the third week of NaNoWriMo. I’m going to split this post into two parts. First I am going to talk to all of you who are kicking ass and taking names. You are doing great. I hope you are half as proud of yourselves as I am of you. You have met every challenge the month has thrown at you and have found a way to make your word count anyway. Maybe you got a cold or a flat tire or you just really wanted to blow off writing to go to a movie. But you are still on top of your story, humming along at a fantastic clip and ready to hit 50,000 words after Thanksgiving. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back. Hey, maybe even brag a little at your stellar writing prowess. Now get back to writing, those words aren’t going to magically appear on your page.

All right, this one is for the rest of the group that didn’t really how hard it was going to be to write 1,667 words a day for thirty days. Maybe you have written a grand total of 100 words and are staring up at the mountain of words and it makes you want to go take a nap, have a cup of tea, or drink beer and watch movies all afternoon. I understand. Maybe your life has gone sideways and November just hasn’t been your month. That’s OK. You can still do this.

I don’t have any doubts in my mind that you can all hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. But, if you’re way behind, you have to really want it. You have to be willing not to go see that movie or go to the bar or play video games. If that’s stuff you aren’t willing to give up for the next twelve days, then it might be time to readjust your goal for the month. That’s totally OK. Pick a goal you can meet and then bump it up a little. So you think 5,000 words is reasonable for the rest of the month. Super. Set your goal to six thousand and see if you can’t blow it out of the water.

Regardless of whether you are ahead or behind on your word count, some of you may be worrying that your story just isn’t working. Maybe you just hate it. I know I have spent most of the month cursing my stupid story and wishing I was doing anything but writing it. Around this point in the month I think I’ve made a massive mistake and should just pack up my pencil and go home. Who was I kidding? This story is too hard or complex or just more than I can manage to write. Someone else, some better writer, should write it instead. Surely my idea would be better off in those more accomplished hands.

But then I read somewhere that a story chooses the person to write it. It may be a bunch of codswallop but it’s an idea I have grown to love. Just like the wand choosing the wizard in Olivander’s shop, a story could choose the writer. No one can write the story in your head except for you. That story appeared in your brain through magic or divine intervention or through a confluence of events ranging from what you ate for dinner last night to your favorite book as a child mixed with a hint of that song you got stuck in your head when you were in second grade. Whatever the reason the story came to you and it’s your job to get it on the page. I can’t do it for you. No one can pry it from your brain and plaster it on a page. It’s up to you. Without you, your story dies.

Whether you kicking ass this November or looking to recalibrate your expectations, remember that your story needs you. You’re the only one who can make your idea come to life. You’re a writer, dammit! And writers don’t leave stories stranded. So get back in there and keep writing.

As always, you can find me in the comments section, on Twitter (@lucyhallowell) or over in the AfterEllen forum on the NaNoWriMo website to answer questions or for a little extra pep.

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