Category: participant pep talk

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Sometimes, you just need a little reminder that you are a writer, what you’re creating is worthy, and that you should keep going! Today, Young Writers Program participant Dawnia Nosrek is here to give you that reminder:

If you asked a normal human being what they’re afraid of, chances are their response would be something other than “a blank page”. But it’s different for us writers. We are not normal human beings. We are extraordinary people, capable of snapping realities and plots and characters into existence by merely placing pen to paper. 

Of course, if you’re anything like me, you’re terrified of the piece of paper in front of you. Of the wordless, empty blank page staring you down, scoffing at the very thought that you could produce anything worthwhile, credible, or even entertaining for any common reader.

But here’s the thing: just because you have a blank page doesn’t mean you’re fresh out of novel-worthy ideas. An idea is an idea even if it sounds dumb to you at first. 

Don’t be encumbered by those destructive thoughts that plague the battlefield of your mind. That blank page is imposing. I know. But you have a world brimming with new ideas just waiting to come alive. Who cares if it sounds stupid? Who cares if it doesn’t exactly fit in the story line? 

Right now, it’s yours. It’s your very own beautiful creation. Take pride in it. Own it. The point of writing is to write. Revising and making sure your sentences actually make sense will come later.

For now, close your eyes. Envision where you want your creation to go. Don’t worry about coherent sentences or shallow characters or plot holes or perfect punctuation or grammar or any of the fear that’s holding you back. Take charge and take off! Just go and write! 

I believe in you.

You are a writer.

Own it.


Dawnia Nosrek is a homeschooled senior whose entire life consists of writing, whether it be books, flash fiction, plays, poems, songs, soundtracks, or short stories. She loves to geek out about books and movies, and can be frequently found composing music on the piano, ukulele, or dulcimer. Her go-to snack food is Sour Patch Kids, and she consumes way too much Mountain Dew during NaNoWriMo. Her favorite series of all time is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Top photo by Cata on Unsplash.

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We’re almost two-thirds of the way through Camp NaNoWriMo this April! Today, Municipal Liaison for the Asia :: Cambodia region Devona Jackson shares some writing insight about where to find inspiration and how to stay inspired throughout the creative process:

Envision with me the busy life of Phnom Penh: Noisy traffic, unique smells of durian dancing in the air, piles of trash everywhere, the blast of heat causing Westerners to glisten or gush buckets from their pores. This is where I call home, despite the chaos. It it where the birth of my inspiration—my second love, writing—came to be.  

As a professional curriculum consultant in Cambodia, writing is something that I do all day long. I love to create words on a page, and help people better use them for the greater good. It is all about expression. But there are times when I hit writer’s block. I am on a roll when it comes to writing an amazing blog post, a curriculum piece, or even a story. Then all of a sudden, I am stopped in my tracks and hit a brick wall. I think to myself, “What’s next?”  

How do you overcome a stumbling block when all your creative juices have dried up completely? Here are three things that I do to help me overcome writer’s block:  

1.  Read someone else’s work.

I love to read when I am not writing. One fellow NaNo writer, Jessica Ostler, an ML from the Minnesota :: Elsewhere region, sent me some of her short stories that she was working on, and it not only helped freshen my mind, but also helped me rejuvenate the creative juices that had been depleted. A shout out to her for being AWESOME!

2.  Exercise another creative skill.

I may not be an artist, but sometimes drawing something helps bring back some of the creative juices that I may be lacking. I have a sketch notebook, and I tend to find a place I have never been to in the city of Phnom Penh. I just sit there and draw to find inspiration. I have been inspired by drawing the Independence Monument, just focusing on the beauty of the architecture that is around me. Monuments are great places for me to gain additional inspiration.

3. Make a soundtrack for your novel.

One last thing that has worked for me, is that I will put on my fiancé’s classical piano music (or any type of music you enjoy) and just free write. I can listen to him play for hours and it has inspired me to soak it in and imagine what I could add to my story, if I were creating a soundtrack to go with it. It really has helped energize me when I am stuck.  

No matter where you are at in the writing process, everyone from time to time gets stuck and needs some extra help. It’s okay. Keep pushing forward.  It’s better to write a few words rather than not write at all. So with that said, “Keep on Keeping on. Write big, or go home.”


Dr. Devona Jackson is the Municipal Liaison for the Asia :: Cambodia region and has lived in Cambodia for four and half years; stationed in Phnom Penh, she started NaNoWriMo in 2017 but begin serving as an ML in 2018.  In 2016, she graduated with her PhD in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Minnesota. By profession, she is a curriculum and education consultant for Cambodia Job Foundation, helping other Cambodians gain a greater appreciation for knowledge and self-reliance. Recently engaged November 7th, she is currently in the process of planning a wedding and writing.  

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We’re almost two-thirds of the way through Camp NaNoWriMo this April! Today, Municipal Liaison for the Asia :: Cambodia region Devona Jackson shares some writing insight about where to find inspiration and how to stay inspired throughout the creative process:

Envision with me the busy life of Phnom Penh: Noisy traffic, unique smells of durian dancing in the air, piles of trash everywhere, the blast of heat causing Westerners to glisten or gush buckets from their pores. This is where I call home, despite the chaos. It it where the birth of my inspiration—my second love, writing—came to be.  

As a professional curriculum consultant in Cambodia, writing is something that I do all day long. I love to create words on a page, and help people better use them for the greater good. It is all about expression. But there are times when I hit writer’s block. I am on a roll when it comes to writing an amazing blog post, a curriculum piece, or even a story. Then all of a sudden, I am stopped in my tracks and hit a brick wall. I think to myself, “What’s next?”  

How do you overcome a stumbling block when all your creative juices have dried up completely? Here are three things that I do to help me overcome writer’s block:  

1.  Read someone else’s work.

I love to read when I am not writing. One fellow NaNo writer, Jessica Ostler, an ML from the Minnesota :: Elsewhere region, sent me some of her short stories that she was working on, and it not only helped freshen my mind, but also helped me rejuvenate the creative juices that had been depleted. A shout out to her for being AWESOME!

2.  Exercise another creative skill.

I may not be an artist, but sometimes drawing something helps bring back some of the creative juices that I may be lacking. I have a sketch notebook, and I tend to find a place I have never been to in the city of Phnom Penh. I just sit there and draw to find inspiration. I have been inspired by drawing the Independence Monument, just focusing on the beauty of the architecture that is around me. Monuments are great places for me to gain additional inspiration.

3. Make a soundtrack for your novel.

One last thing that has worked for me, is that I will put on my fiancé’s classical piano music (or any type of music you enjoy) and just free write. I can listen to him play for hours and it has inspired me to soak it in and imagine what I could add to my story, if I were creating a soundtrack to go with it. It really has helped energize me when I am stuck.  

No matter where you are at in the writing process, everyone from time to time gets stuck and needs some extra help. It’s okay. Keep pushing forward.  It’s better to write a few words rather than not write at all. So with that said, “Keep on Keeping on. Write big, or go home.”


Dr. Devona Jackson is the Municipal Liaison for the Asia :: Cambodia region and has lived in Cambodia for four and half years; stationed in Phnom Penh, she started NaNoWriMo in 2017 but begin serving as an ML in 2018.  In 2016, she graduated with her PhD in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Minnesota. By profession, she is a curriculum and education consultant for Cambodia Job Foundation, helping other Cambodians gain a greater appreciation for knowledge and self-reliance. Recently engaged November 7th, she is currently in the process of planning a wedding and writing.  

Camp NaNoWriMo is nothing without you, our incredible participants. Today, Camp NaNoWriMo participant Kyle Winters offers you some advice for this last day of Camp:

Hey there Campers! How’s it going so far? Have you been extracting carts full of delicious word-ore from those story-mines, piling it into big, uh, word piles, and… This metaphor has broken down completely. Regardless, I hope you’ve been having a productive Camp NaNoWriMo! I’ve been plugging away on my novella, not always hitting my goal, but making sure that my butt meets chair and my fingers hit keys.

Having a great outline has helped things go smoothly and I’m hydrated, stimulated and not overly caffeinated, so it all should be going like clockwork, right? Why, then, did I wake up in the middle of the night, gripped with a desperate panic?

My heart raced, sweat clung to me, and I had a marrow-deep need to be validated. It was just after 3:00 a.m. and I scrolled through my phone’s contacts, Facebook, and Twitter trying to figure out who among my friends might be awake and able to give me that sweet, sweet hit of approval my brain so craved. Everyone was asleep, and I cursed that all of my friends had avoided crippling internet addictions.

There’s a weird thing that happens when you’re buckling down on a long project where you become like a hermit in the woods. You’re alone with your story, characters, and world for so long that you begin to feel a sense of isolation and unease. What happens when I leave my weird, coffee-stained hermit shack and try reentering normal society, story in hand? Will I be accepted with open arms, or will I be cast out so quickly that I leave a Kyle-shaped dust outline behind, like in a cartoon?

“Regardless of whether you publish what you’re working on right now and gain a million readers, or the story stays yours and yours alone, you get to look yourself in the eyes at the end of this month and say, ‘I’m a writer.’”

Every writer feels this way at some point because writing is profoundly personal, difficult, and lonely most of the time. Maybe that sounds dramatic, and it is, but we’re allowed to be a bit dramatic since we’re among friends here. Pulling 50,000 words, or 50 words, out of your brain and putting them on the page is a very intense, tiring, and sometimes painful process. It’s only logical that your brain would fight back. It wants a cookie, a treat, a reason to keep fighting with itself and all of your fears. It wants you to call a friend at three in the morning and beg them to read your novella just to say something nice about it, and if you don’t do that, it wants you to give up. Don’t listen. 

Great authors have finished their works because they knew, in the end, that they were writing for themselves. Every word put on the page was a word they wanted there, and it didn’t matter what someone else said or thought. They wrote because, like you, they are writers and (I know this sounds crazy) writers write. Not to put out in the world or to win acceptance from the unknown “they,” but because it is an act for themselves.

I know right now you’re probably struggling, because so am I. Just remember that we all write for an audience of one, and that audience is you. Regardless of whether you publish what you’re working on right now and gain a million readers, or the story stays yours and yours alone, you get to look yourself in the eyes at the end of this month and say, “I’m a writer.” I’m rooting for you and I know you can do it, because if I can, you definitely can.


Kyle Winters is a seasoned writer and mega-nerd with a decade of creative experience beginning with comics and ending with, we can assume, a Thunderdome-style pit fight to the death. His upcoming sci-fi horror novella will be out by the end of 2018, and if you’d like to know when that happens, follow him on Twitter or sign up to his mailing list. Don’t worry, he doesn’t spam.

Top image licensed under Creative Commons from Michael Dorausch 
on Flickr.

Camp NaNoWriMo is nothing without you, our incredible participants. Today, Camp NaNoWriMo participant Erica McNary offers you some advice for this last week of Camp:

You’re exhausted.

You’re frustrated.

The words won’t come.

We’ve all been there.

I’m currently there with you. We start our projects with steely resolve, determination and confidence. Now, the time has come for writer’s block, uncooperative characters, faulty plot lines, and (very much for me) real life responsibilities to get in the way. Between my inordinately large brood of children and the need to keep them not only alive but entertained during the summer, too many volunteer commitments (because I just can’t say no), and the never-ending laundry and food preparation routine that accompanies a large family, writing hundreds of words per day feels impossible.

But I didn’t start writing only to call it impossible halfway through and neither did you. We Campers have words in our heads that are desperate to be written. Words that, no matter how imperfect and chaotic they are at first, are worth the time we spend huddled over keyboards. Amidst the bedlam of daily life, sometimes through the din of kids’ laughter and squabbles—because, summer break—we write.

“That’s what it’s about, Campers: finding the tiny pockets of time to get even a few dozen more words on your screen.“

I write in the early morning before the kids wake. I write late at night when the entire house is finally asleep and quiet. I drag my ancient and decrepit iPad 2/keyboard case combo around with me like it’s my sixth—and quietest—child and write on the go, waiting for ballet, hockey, and camp pick-up. Since I’m usually buried under two tons of laundry, I write in between switching out loads and matching innumerous socks because of all the places in the house where the kids could find me, the laundry room is the least likely place for them to look.

That’s what it’s about, Campers: finding the tiny pockets of time to get even a few dozen more words on your screen. It’s late nights and early mornings and self-imposed deadlines that you won’t always meet. Whether your obstacles are large families, job responsibilities or story problems, your mission this month is to work through these things because your words are precious and your project is worth it.  

We have goals to reach! Your goal may be upping your word count, revising for querying or character development. Whatever it is, this is not the time to let self-doubt creep in and worry whether your words are good enough. This is the time for your words to be written! Maybe it’s changing your routine, turning off your music, turning on some music, writing early in the morning rather than at night. Whatever it is that helps you power through and find inspiration, go with it.

When all else fails, embrace a change of scenery and hide in your laundry room. You never know where inspiration might strike.


Erica McNary is a former nurse, mom of many, constant preparer of food, and drinker of coffee. After spending the last eleven years exclusively employed by her five children in the area of parenting arts, she became one of the last people on Earth to read Harry Potter. The series reminded her how good reading was for the soul and inspired this crazy idea that the words, thoughts, and characters floating through her head could be organized into something resembling her own book. Erica is currently juggling the chaos of managing the characters of her first novel along with raising a herd of children. You can find Erica on Twitter: @erica_mcnary, and Instagram: ericamcnary.

Top image licensed under Creative Commons from Peppysis on Flickr.

Camp NaNoWriMo is nothing without you, our incredible participants. Today, Camp NaNoWriMo participant Ashley Jean Granillo offers you some advice for this week of Camp:

Dear Writer,

Your story is worth telling, even if the writing hasn’t caught up to the ingenious idea that you’ve been working out on in your mind as you shower away the filth of your day job.

If you’ve forgotten: writing is a process. Currently, you’re probably in the drafting stage. And drafts, especially first drafts, aren’t perfect. They are messy––riddled with grammatical errors and sentences that appear to be in the language of your choosing but sound foreign. This is exactly where your writing is supposed to be. Yes, you are supposed to be writing cliches and flat lines of dialogue because you are only in the beginning stages of unveiling your story’s true potential. Think of yourself as an artist, sketching out the shapes of a landscape. The detail and color will come with patience.

As a college composition professor and author, I’ve seen and experienced failure, and it’s usually as a result of the self-doubt that occurs during the drafting stage. Too often my students, and occasionally my own brain, tell me that the inconsistencies and poorly structured sentences deem us unfit to continue writing––that we are a disgrace to the art of composition. Remember that artist: just because they sketched a mitten in place of hand doesn’t mean they can’t draw fingers. They’re waiting for the right moment.

“You must to be willing to be imperfect to be a writer. As an artist, you must accept that the first line you draw won’t be your straightest.”

Love from the Barricade, my debut novel, was written during NaNoWriMo, and its first draft would give you secondhand embarrassment. It had ten identical characters, and a main character who didn’t know what she wanted, and neither did I at the time. But that first draft, however horrible it was, served as a reminder that: having the draft of a novel is a lot better than having an idea for a novel. You can revise a draft, but you cannot revise an idea, because it does not physically exist for you to rework. I couldn’t discover Aijae without sifting through her confusion. You must to be willing to be imperfect to be a writer. As an artist, you must accept that the first line you draw won’t be your straightest. Luckily, there are tools to help you reshape the work, but later.

You’re a writer and an artist even though your novel is not finished. What separates you from so many other people is that they have ideas for stories, but they fail to do what we do everyday, what you do everyday: write.

Writing is not a competition, albeit this challenge may make it appear that way. Art is practice. You are only here because you have one goal, and that’s to complete what you haven’t had the courage or time to do in the past. You aren’t here to outdo someone else, or make your partners, friends, and family members proud. Let them cheer you on, but don’t allow yourself to think that if your word count slips away that you’re letting them down. By being here, getting in those 500, sometimes only even 100 words a day, you are doing the right thing for yourself. You are taking part of something much greater than you could ever imagine. Revel in the journey of discovery.

I had a student who came in every class with the same defeated look, and the same exhausted sentence, “I completed the essay, professor. But it isn’t any good.”  My response wasn’t that they’d better get their sh*t together before I failed their work for its disorganization and comma splices. Instead, I told them this:

I am proud of you. You’re just about to surprise yourself with how incredible your story can actually be.

Take care,
Ashley Jean


Ashley Jean Granillo is an English instructor at College of the Canyons. She has her BA and MA in Creative Writing from California State University Northridge. For a time, she was a freelance music journalist, which serves as the inspiration for her debut novel. Her first novel (a NaNoWriMo Winner 2015), Love from the Barricade, debuts in September from Black Rose Writing. Currently, she is on a mini tour along the west coast, following the music of her favorite band.

Top image licensed under Creative Commons from César Astudillo on Flickr.

Camp NaNoWriMo is nothing without you, our incredible participants. Today, Camp NaNoWriMo participant Juliana Xavier offers you some advice for your second week of Camp:

Dear Wrimos of NaNo past, present and future,

As we continue the second session of Camp this year, many of us are already freaking out at what’s to come. Heck, I’m currently writing this from the not so distant past (July 1st, in fact), and already I want to scurry back to bed to sleep away the winter (I’m in Brazil).

It’s a lot of pressure to keep yourself working non-stop for a month of creative endeavors… and on top of that, you definitely didn’t set up a bunch of unrealistic expectations, right?

Right?

But according to popular belief, unrealistic expectations (among other anxiety- and depression-inducing things) are exactly how content creators should create. “Suffer for your art,” they say!

I shout back, “Nay!” We need not suffer to create great things.

Let’s backtrack: During last November’s NaNo session, I wrote the novel that I want to nurture and carry to full term in the next 9 months (sure, let’s go with that analogy). With that in mind, I decided to use April and July’s session as a way to work on a second and third draft of said novel.

I’ve been away from Camp since 2013 and was pleasantly surprised to discover the new ways I could track progress; through the classic word count or via hours, minutes, or even lines or pages (this is important).

Thing is, right before April’s camp session, my life became a bit of a Greek tragedy. Desperately looking for a way to not let myself fall apart, I dove head first into writing, fully expecting to hit pavement instead of water. Thankfully, it was the latter, and I clocked a whooping 164 hours of writing in April.

If you think that’s excessive, so do I.

By mid-April I was already starting to burn out with writing. Because past me was too lazy to deal with my mental health properly, present me is now so desperate that everything seems dire.

Unrealistic expectations for July’s camp: Third draft go!

Reality: *internally screaming* Deadlines are imminent! Death is imminent! A terrible draft is imminent, give up now!

In my desperation to return to April’s peak productivity, I’ve started badgering my friends for multivitamins as if that was some sort of cure for burnout. Speaking of, got any vitamin D tablets on ya?

How am I supposed to rise like a phoenix for a second month of writing, when I feel so unmotivated to push through the gross death ashes of my ongoing burnout?

Well… that’s why Camp is so important:

“Small steps and tiny progress is still progress.”

Tracking my progress in hours instead of word count allows me to see my progress even if I originally wouldn’t count it as such. Time you spend fleshing out characters, unraveling messy plot lines and world building? It all matters.

Sure, I leveraged my pain to create; but maybe I could have had two good months of writing, instead of an excessive one in April, and what’s so far shaping up to be an anxiety-inducing one in July.

Sometimes we are just not all there, and it’s ok not to be hyper productive all the time. If you shoulder the weight of the world, you’ll only add more to your pain. What feels great now might be terrible for you later on. Small steps and tiny progress is still progress.

Rome wasn’t built in a day! G.R.R. Martin didn’t write all of The Winds of Winter in a month! In fact, it’s not even done yet. If he can take years to write his story, so can you. (And remember that you can change your goal during Camp if it doesn’t feel right for you!)

Take care of your health and do what’s write (ha) for you.

Signed,

Your friendly neighborhood Wrimo participant.


Juliana Xavier is a writer, illustrator and sequential artist. SCAD alumna, all about that kid lit. Brazilian born but partially American grown. Works as a freelance artist and would love to draw your fantasy maps and book covers. Coffee is ok (gasp!) but Thai bubble tea is the real MVP. You can find her on her portfolio website, twitter, patreon, and ko-fi page. For inquiries, feel free to e-mail her at hey@juliejubz.com

Top image licensed under Creative Commons from postscapes on Flickr.

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Are you missing the energy of Camp NaNoWriMo’s April session and can’t wait for it to start again in July? If you want to continue your noveling adventures, participant Nadia Svoboda shares some tips to help you keep writing in the “off season”:

I hope this blog post finds you well rested and properly caffeinated (did anyone else recently re-discover the awesomeness that is iced coffee? Because I did and I know it’s going to be my summer staple)

We are well into the “off season” right now. If you’re also in the northern hemisphere, the cold dreary days of November seem like a distant memory, and the lush, hot days of summer are just beginning. It’s a great time of year to get outside, go exploring, meet up with friends, and yes… write your novel.

If you like to read outside on a patio, in your backyard, or under the shade of a tree in your local park, why not switch it up and try writing instead?

Bring your laptop (or a pen and notebook) along with you the next time you’re enjoying your downtime outside. If that’s not available to you, open a window and let the warm breeze and sunshine in! Let it inspire you to write—a short story, a poem, a zine, or work on another creative project. Pick up that old story you set aside and look at it with fresh eyes. Keep your creative spark going.

It’s undeniable that there’s a lot of literary magic in the month-long events arranged by NaNo HQ, but these official events are not the only time you can pursue your passion. You don’t have to wait until the next Camp NaNoWriMo or November event to start working on your next project, or continue one that you’ve been keeping on the back burner. (Please don’t actually set your manuscript on fire. That’s ill advised). Just start writing again and see where it takes you.

I think that the best part about NaNoWriMo is the community that continues to be active every month that isn’t November. I’ve been casually chatting with an informal group of amazing writers in the forums for going on three years. Every month we start a new thread and many of us set goals each and every day to continue making writing an important part of our lives.

“Be daring and adventurous as you chart a course towards literary accomplishment.”

Fortunately, this is something anyone can do! It can be as simple as saying “I want to write x words today” or “I will work at my desk for x minutes”. Let your mind wander freely and don’t be afraid to experiment or try something new. Be daring and adventurous as you chart a course towards literary accomplishment. And if that’s not your story style, stick with what works.

Writing might be a primarily solitary activity, but it can also kind of be a team sport. And teamwork helps make the dream work.

So message that old NaNo pal on the social platform of your choice, give yourself a refresher course on NaNoWriMo’s awesome resources during the “I Wrote a Novel, Now What?” months, and keep creating! The world needs your story.


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Nadia Svoboda (NaNoWriMo username Panickedfish)  is a writer, reader, practicer of yoga, bunny mom, vegetarian, and travel enthusiast. Though she’s not published any of her books (yet) she is enjoying the journey to all the places—real or imaginary—that writing takes her. She will be participating in NaNoWriMo for the 10th time this November. Until then, you may find her geocaching in your local woods.


Top image licensed under Creative Commons from Chris Blakely on Flickr.

Camp NaNoWriMo is nothing without you, our incredible participants. Today, Rylee Kazort, a fellow Camper and member of the Young Writers Program, offers you some pep:

Let me first say that writing a story, or anything at all, is not easy. I am a dyslexic teen writer with an anxiety disorder, so it’s safe to say that I can relate when writers say that just putting words down can be stressful. After all, as a writer, you spend half your time wondering if the words on the page are good enough—you constantly want to look over your writing and have it mean something to others. But don’t let the anxiety of worrying about what to write stop you from writing. I use writing as a powerful means of communication for things I might be afraid to say in person.

We use writing to portray our true thoughts and feelings. With anxiety it is hard for me to communicate who I am to everyone else; I am a kid who stays in a corner and doesn’t talk to many people. I don’t normally get the right words out when I am talking, and I often don’t know what point I’m trying to make, and I get flustered and frustrated.

Writing takes out the stress of saying the right thing—because you can craft sentences to fit the picture you have in mind. When I’m writing, I know I can take my time and think it through in a way people don’t normally allow for while talking. I see so many people around me writing, but they don’t feel like they’re really saying anything. Words have more power than people think. They changed my life. I can talk about the things I wouldn’t normally tell people through writing. I strongly believe every word has a purpose, no matter how small.

“Never underestimate the power of empathy; someone might be going through something very similar to you, and your story just might be what they need.”

In writing, you can change perspectives and outcomes—you can even change reality itself. There is something so special about being able to craft characters and settings from scratch or inspiration. When you’re writing, the people and places don’t need to be perfect, because the world isn’t perfect. Don’t be afraid to show the darkness in your world or the world around you.

Then show everyone who lives in a world like that one that there is a character who can overcome the darkness. Writing is special and unique in that you can give your reader hope with only a few words.

As a writer, don’t be scared to get the first few words out—even if they don’t look perfect. If they are what you feel, they will be perfect. There is untapped power in the art of crafting a story, especially when you can influence people to do something. Change your world, like a character would in a book.

My advice to those of you who are starting to write your own stories? Don’t censor the world you decide to show your audience. The best writing comes from the heart. Don’t feel bad about it; it is what you feel, and writing should show just that. Never underestimate the power of empathy; someone might be going through something very similar to you, and your story just might be what they need. So don’t be afraid to create a story that gives the characters hope and gives you hope—you may just inspire your reader to do something great!


Rylee Kazort is a teen writer with dyslexia who started writing in freshman year of high school. In the three years since then, Rylee has written 14 stories, 11 of them being novel length, one of these being longer that 100,000 words.  Rylee’s favorite book so far is Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

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Camp NaNoWriMo is nothing without you, our incredible participants. Today, Kenzie Keene, a fellow Camper, offers you some pep:

Good afternoon, Cyberspace, and welcome to the FINAL DAYS OF CAMP!

With only 3 days left, there are two potential scenarios as to how this month shall end. Either (A) you expect to fail to meet your goal (like I expect to) and cry a single tear of shame before diving right back into your novel because you ain’t no quitter, or (B) you are about to miraculously pull off a win as you type so furiously that your gnarled bones are beginning to burst through your fingertips.

And for those of you who feel like you might fail, there is only one thing I can say:

Keep going.

The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to help us break through the sludge of procrastination that we often find ourselves trapped within during every other month of the year. NaNo isn’t about whether we win or lose, but whether we actually played the game. So don’t let the pressure of meeting a goal—or the severe disappointment of not reaching that goal—stop you from doing what you love.

Which is writing. (In case you needed the reminder because your brain is a fried slug right now.)

But what about all you writers out there who are nearing the end and are unsure how to wrap your novels up? How are you supposed to tie every single loose thread up into one neat little package with a cherry on top so that your readers will be satisfied? How does one make a story just… end?

Well, dear bean, never you fear, for I am here with advice to those of you who are hastily trying to write the perfect ending before the clock strikes 12 on August 1st. My advice is this:

Keep going.

Endings are delicate matters. Endings are taking a world you have created out of nothing and choosing to let it ebb away with a single word. Don’t rush it, and I promise that your story will have a much deeper and rewarding ending. With a good ending, the breath of life in your story will still linger in your readers’ minds.

Your story does not have to end on July 31st. The world won’t spontaneously combust around you if you are still writing your first draft after Camp. Believe me.

Perhaps, however, you’re squinting at your screen, saying, “But my ending is coming along as smoothly as a butterscotch milkshake on a hot summer’s day! Am I rushing it?”

No! Keep going.

If your ending is clicking into place already, then by all means write it! The fact that you’re able to write an ending at the end of the month is magnificent, and I tip my hat to you.

What you need to do is make your ending count. Do something unexpected, something your readers would never guess. Something you would never guess. You are your story’s first reader. If you are not shocked or surprised or in love with your ending, then why should your readers be?

The end of Camp is fast approaching, and we must get back to work. But before I go, there is one thing I must ask of you. Whoever you are, whatever stage you’re at in the writing process—whether it’s drafting or editing or giving it a break before diving back in—I need you to do one thing for me:

Stick with your story.

This story needs you. Without you, it is nothing. You are its creator, and though it may seem terrible right now, with a little love (and a sledge-hammer to that disastrous plot-hole), it has the potential to become something absolutely beautiful.

And hey—I believe in you.

*flings cookies in your face and disappears*


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Kenzie Keene is a Christian, aspiring author, and full-time dragon-enthusiast. She is currently working on the second draft of her NaNoWriMo 2016 project, which she hopes to someday publish. Her blog, Smudged Thoughts, was her first venture into the Swirling Void of Infinite Insanity, a.k.a. her writing process, and is where she rants about writerly and readerly things and flings cookies everywhere. Preferably at your face. You can also find her on Twitter (come stalk me, I have cookies).