You Have Permission: My NaNoWriMo Pep Talk

The fine folks who run National Novel Writing Month asked me to do a pep talk.

They liked it well enough to make it the lead piece kicking off the month.

So, here goes:

Imagine being allowed to do something you’re not supposed to do.

Imagine you’re given the keys to a mud-bogging Bronco, or a dune buggy, or a Lamborghini. And then, you’re pointed toward a field. A soccer field outside a high school, or maybe just a wide open grassland. Nobody there. No kids playing. No animals frolicking.

In fact, right now, nobody is here to see you at all…

Read the rest at


  • Thanks for the Pep Talk, Oh Wise Penmonkey!
    I’ve already logged in 2637 words on my NaNo project this morning, and yeah, it felt a little like driving a Lamborghini.
    Warning: Inner child loose with high-tech sports car.
    **Cyber High-Fives all you NaNos out there**

  • Awesome. You are awesome. We all are awesome. Words are awesome. I’m going to get back to my words.

    Thanks Chuck.

  • “It’s a blank page and you’ve got all the letters and words you need.” Perfect. Thanks for this Chuck. I really needed this, because for the first time in 4 years (I think?) of Nanoing, I have NO idea what to write, and I wasn’t even sure if i was going to bother this year because: meh, blah, life-n-stuff…but i’m going to give it a whirl and throw some mud, i mean words, on a page and see what coalesces!

  • I’d never heard of this either, until yesterday. I checked out some of the forums; great info, tips and community.
    I’m changing jobs, moving to a different state, hooking a relationship back up and finishing a memoir.
    The only thing that matters to me is finishing this memoir project before December; can’t take anything else on until it’s finished….but will be checking out the site, updates and doing the camp this summer; and doing this ful tilt boogie next time around. Good stuff and thanks for the pep talk…I’m stealing it for current project.

  • Loved the post. This is my 10 year anniversary with nano but the job is making it hard to arrange writing time. I need all the pep talks I can get.

  • Was really surprised to see this in my NaNo inbox! It made me really happy haha Thanks for the words of encouragement, Chuck 🙂

  • This was one of the best pep talks I’ve read in the three years I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo. Thank you. It was exactly what I needed since my inner editor had shut up about things like commas and spelling, but kept going on about lack of structure and things like that.

  • As an editor, very, very few NaNo novels ever reach me, but I know several agents who hate it with every fiber of their being, primarily because they will, in two or three months, be deluged with queries for these novel.

    I’m not convinced NaNo is a good idea for most writers because they write crap, which is fine, but they then spend the next year trying to edit that crap into something worthwhile, but the next NaNo comes around before this happens. It’s NaNo, rinse and repeat, year after year.

    I think NaNo is best taken with a strong dose of Voltaire. After visiting a prostitute at the insistence of a friend, he declined to do so again. When asked why he replied, “Once a philosopher, twice a pervert.”

    NaNo is very much like this.

    • I’ve met too many novelists who have found value out of NaNoWriMo — further, I tend to write more than the expected 50k in a given month or writing, so I call shenanigans on this.

      — c.

    • Hi James. There may be many who go into NaNo unprepared and blast off said crap to editors. I’m sure it’s frustrating to be deluged with it. But there’s another group (I hope I’m one) who have prepared, written an outline, understand there’s a beginning, middle and end of the story and get the major rules of writing re characters, solid POV, plot structure etc.

      My assumption is that if I can crank out 50K or even less words, well that’s probably more than I’d write in a month! I’m certain that whatever is churned out will comprise part of a rough draft, and that’s all. Nothing readable except for maybe the best of friends. Very patient friends. Well actually, probably only the man I co-hab with since he’s stuck with me and doesn’t own noise canceling headphones. Hah hah.

      Good luck!

  • I seriously just read this and was figuring out a way to email you back. I couldn’t, so I just click on the link and it redirect me to this site. I actually need that pep talk, especially since I overthink every and had rewritten my story twice already.

  • Doing what I’m not supposed to do is kind of freaking my usual thing. I’d like to try doing what I’m supposed to do for a change. Never have been very good at it. It’s a thought though.

  • That was great for the guys. My first husband did all those parking lot doughnuts, tipped my hard-earned bug over and slid it sidelong across the pavement–drove my VW bus into a river on a crazed, headlong plummet down an embankment. I’m sure it was fun. But I’m a little inured to that imagery. Not to be sexist about it. But how about some creative imagery for the gals? How about:

    Imagine yourself alone in a performance theater, the doors are all locked, the music is turned up. It’s no one but you. You have the stage to yourself. All your life, you’ve been told to cover up. Be modest. Don’t expose true self. Hide your beauty.

    The lights come up, circles of dangerous exposure scattered across the stage floor. You run to the wings and grab up handsful of scarves. Yards and yards of silky fabric, soft and flowing, defying gravity even as it slips through your hands.

    Go ahead.

    Strip off your clothes.

    Run and prance, free as the wind, floating on the rhythms of the music. The scarves flow behind you making Mandlebrot patterns of air. Make Isadora Duncan proud.

    Sing! At the top of your lungs. Let arias pour forth from your soul as you whirl to the dance of creativity. Cover yourself in silk and explode out of it. Reborn.

    Okay. I guess guys can do this, too.

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