We welcome writing coach and bestselling author Angela Ackerman for this week’s pep talk. Grab these tips and be encouraged for your third week of JuNoWriMo!
If our path has one guidepost of truth, it is this: writing isn’t easy. Not by a mile.
It’s not the craft of writing we must learn or the publishing waters we must navigate. Yes, so much effort will go into these things, but the hardest part? The thing that causes our hands to sweat, and our fingers to hesitate on the keys?
It’s ourselves. Our own self-doubt, our worries that our words won’t be good enough, that we’ll never be able to transcribe the story that vibrates our skull with the desire to get out.
Here’s a second truth, one we sometimes forget: creating is big. Taking something unformed, a scattered collection of ideas and emotions that exist inside us and then attempting to set it loose as a cohesive story? Not for the faint of heart. It takes incredible courage. Boldness. And, more than anything else, passion.
A third truth? The fact that you’re here, fingers poised, is amazing. We all know someone (usually multiple someones) who say they want to write a story, that they have ideas, notes even, snippets written…and yet that’s as far as they ever go. Others we know can’t even voice their desire to write. They can’t let the truth out. The dream is just too big for them.
You, however, are different. You’re here, you’re ready, and you’ve embraced the dream. So whatever you do this JuNoWriMo, don’t let doubt sabotage the greatness inside of you—not ten words in, not ten thousand words in. Be a warrior.
Should uncertainty hit at any point, here are some strategies to help you move past it and write.
If a coil of doubt begins to squeeze your chest, take a breath, clean and deep. Remember the spark of this novel idea and how it made you sit up when it hit. You knew there was something special there. A character, a place, a situation, a voice…whatever triggered the idea probably stole your breath for an instant. You got a little light-headed. Your fingers tingled. Ideas and images began to whirl as the story spooled across your thoughts. That specialness is still here, and you’re in the thick of it.
Silence the voice
Self-doubt has a voice, one of those whispery ones that likes to poke and prick our confidence. This voice is an outsider, trying to get in. Don’t let it. It doesn’t belong in the process of creation. Shut it down before it can get going.
Embrace the truth
Drafting a novel is about writing from the heart, not crafting perfection. As individuals, none of us are perfect. Instead we grow and strive and evolve, and this is what makes each of us special and unique. It’s the same for our story. This draft is about the beauty of honest intent, so write the story as it wants to be told. Trust yourself and your own intuition. Write the next word, and then the next.
Chase the joy
One of the many wonders of an event like JuNoWriMo is that to ‘win’ we have to really focus and write hard. This makes it a great time to get out of our own way, loosen our grip on the rules, have fun and even experiment. Find the delight in creating something new, and try to surprise yourself along the way.
Above all else…
Write for you. Be bold, be brave, and enjoy the power of creating. You got this!
Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling resource, The Emotion Thesaurus, as well as the bestselling duo, The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus (and two new books on Setting will soon join the ranks.) Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors and psychologists around the world. Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site, Writers Helping Writers, as well as One Stop For Writers, an innovative online library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.