11/9/09 Peptalk from MattKinsi

Oh man.  It’s the middle of week two.  If you are chugging along just fine, and nothing’s wrong, well, you can skip down to where it says “–OPTIMISTS CAN RETURN–”

But if you’re like the majority of us out there…you are not a happy camper right now.  The novelty of noveling has worn off and you have realized that the entire universe is conspiring against you and your writing sucks.  Now, once again, this email is entirely too long and I should count it towards my word count, but you don’t need to read everything.  Just hit the sections you need 🙂

Let’s take a look at some of the possible reasons why this week is just sucking so hard:

a) I think my writing sucks.

b) It hurts!  Like, really hurts.

c) My computer is rebelling.

d) Why bother, I’m already behind.

e) The universe, clearly, hates me.

f) My characters have gone on strike.

Let’s take a look at each of these.

A) I think my writing sucks.

I fall into this camp, but luckily, I’ve learned not to care about this.  I have a pretty high word count <insert death stares here> but it’s all crap.  I mean, really.  My third chapter, which is 16,317 words long, has the plot of “single mom gets asked out.  She says no.”  I’m sure the Pulitzer committee is anxiously awaiting my finish.  But it doesn’t matter, because as just about every author will tell you, guess what, their first drafts sucked too.  Well, NaNo is NOT ABOUT QUALITY PEOPLE.  It’s about QUANITITY.  I hereby give you permission for your novel to suck hard.  It’s a FUTURE masterpiece, not a present masterpiece.  A whole lot of suckage makes the wordcount fly.  That’s my entire third chapter after all.  And about 95% of my novel.  Stop stressed about it sucking.  Really.  For you perfectionists out there, go right now to write or die.  And do a 15 min set on Kamikaze mode with an evil grace period.  And keep doing these until you learn to stop caring about the content.  This will work.

b) It hurts!  Like, really hurts.

Oh my god my wrist is killing me right now.  My left wrist has decided that it no longer appreciates my efforts to conquer my word count goal, and it misses its life as the useless wrist on this right-handed man.  I was challenged by tiakall to write 5,000 words in an hour.  By golly I did it, and my wrist hasn’t stopped hurting since.  I always forget I get my nano-wrist-pain, and every year it comes back like clockwork.  Well, my secret weapon is icy hot, and for those of you seeing me at write-ins, expect to smell that minty icy hot smell around me for the rest of the month.  Some people hit up wrist braces, some people pain meds, some people go get a wrist massage from a very generous significant other.  If you are writing to the point of physical pain, you probably should take a little bit of a break.  I don’t want anyone to end up the hospital, which will REALLY hurt the word count.  So, if you are in pain, get some icy hot, braces, a significant other, and soothe some of that pain away and come on back stronger than ever.

c) My computer is rebelling.

Someone reading this email right now has a computer that is quite angry at them, and something catastrophic has happened.  Maybe you had to reinstall your operating system, maybe your space bar has stopped working.  But something bad has happened.  Welcome to the NaNoTechCurse.  It happens.  I wish I knew why, but it does.  I want EVERYONE TO STOP RIGHT NOW AND NOT ONLY SAVE THEIR NANO BUT EMAIL IT TO YOURSELF.  Really.  Right now.  I’ll do it right now too.  Better safe than sorry.  If your computer has decided to declare war right on back, it IS ok to handwrite.  People do it every year.  One year I wrote a section on my blackberry, and I only used a PDA my first year I won.  There are options.  If your computer is in the shop, outline like mad on paper till its fixed and you can fly right on by.  Hit up your local library and borrow their computers for a little bit.  Plead with friends using promises to write said friend into novel (and you can kill them off if you really need the words, I’m sure they will understand.)

d) Why bother, I’m already behind.

Every word matters.  We have many many days left to write.  Here’s a handy little formula for the math folk out there.  (50000 – wordcount) / (days left to write) = daily goal.  Go ahead and pull out a calculator, or I bet wolframalpha.com could solve this for you.  That’s how many words you need to write today.  And it’s doable.  I bet you could even do double on a day off from work or schlepping the kids to Monkey Joes for the day.  Repeat after me:  I haven’t missed the boat.  I haven’t missed the boat.  I will not drop my oar.  I will not drop my oar.  Sally sells seashells down by the seashore.  Sally sells seashells down by the seashore.  Maybe you have a sudden amount of homework, or work is going insane and you just can’t find the time to write it.  Well, I bet you can work in some 15 minute chunks.  If you find yourself squarely in column D, go find my last pep talk in your email, or on our NaNoLanta website at http://nanolanta.org/?p=37 It will help.  I pinky swear.

e) The universe, clearly, hates me

I don’t know what Chris Baty to curse just about everyone attempting NaNoWriMo during November, but whatever it was it was a doozy!  I hope he had fun nonetheless.  Because some of you are going through the most epic life challenges right now – finding a new job, hating your current one, family issues, health issues, you name it, right now someone reading this email is suffering through it.  It’s not even the normal, run of the mill stuff that happens.  Maybe someone set your kitchen on fire.  Maybe your car caught on fire.  Maybe a tree fell down and knocked out not only the power, but landed squarely on your computer.  My universe hating me bit was at the very start of NaNo – Nov. 1st when I went to the memorial service for a dear friend who passed away.  And what helped me, I kid you not, was writing about it.  All the sudden my main character got put in the exact same situation I was in.  Sure, it boosted my word count but more importantly it helped me cope with it.  And oddly, I think it made my novel sooo much better.  Whatever the universe is doing to you right now, think of it as the universe’s way of saying “this should be in your novel.”

f) My characters have gone on strike

This will happen to you at some point.  And it usually happens around now.  Your characters, once so exciting and interesting, now currently want to do nothing but talk about really senseless stuff or repeat themselves over and over.  This can be so maddening, but here’s something you don’t hear too often:  It’s ok if your characters are boring.  Because how many of us truly are exciting and doing something all the time.  I know I’m a pretty boring guy except for a few exciting moments, and if someone were writing about me they would be pretty screwed.  It’s OK if your characters are currently doing nothing exciting.  Go ahead and write it.  Eventually something will come along.  And if nothing does, take a look at E.  Think of the last thing that could be considered at all exciting in your own life, and its time to make that happen to your character. Or, hit up ajc.com right now, look at the headline, and its time to make that happen to your character somehow.  There are also all sorts of good tips over on the Plot Doctoring message board on the nanowrimo.org forums.  Just don’t spend TOO much time looking for something…Also hit up our daily posts in the forum that have dares, prompts, lines, etc.  It could help poke your characters into action.

Whatever it is causing you your grief, your NaNoEmo as I call it, it is overcome-able.

–OPTIMISTS CAN RETURN–

We can do this NaNoLanta.  Each of us can hit our goals.  Each of us can hit 50k.  We can do it.  You can do it.  I wouldn’t lie about this.  Every single person has done the first step – just getting this email shows you care, and reading it shows you are determined.  That’s all it takes.  Dedication, care, and caffeine (which I can’t really send through the computer.)

We were gaining ground on Denver, and it’s come to my attention that people from Denver are getting these emails.  So, I ask you from Denver to ignore all of my advice, because it’s only going to work for people in Atlanta.  I hit the special super secret “Help Atlanta Only” button while sending it.

A few reminders.  Check out the write-ins…they really help the word count.  Especially ones with a ML, as we are pretty ruthless taskmasters.  Make sure you are regularly updating your wordcount on the site so we know how we are doing against Denver.  Nothing makes us happier as MLs than seeing WCs go up and donations to NaNoWriMo.  Check nanolanta.org for any of the latest info, and we love chatting with folks in our chatroom.  So if you appreciate these emails, shoot NaNoWriMo a 10-dollar donation 🙂

And, by the way, here’s proof 1667 words a day is possible.  This peptalk, which I cranked out in a few hours, is exactly 1667 words.

We can do this!

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