A Pep Talk and a Promise

Dear Climbers,

There’s so much more freedom here at Camp. Many of us are doing a little exploring: hiking our way through an old project or a rewrite, challenging ourselves with a little nonfiction or a script, or schlepping packs overstuffed with ideas as we tackle multiple projects at once. Writing a novel in a month is a hard enough row but every project comes with its own rapids.

Nonfiction is often missing that rising action that powers you through the last hump of a novel. Rewriting can be slow going, like doing word sprints in cement shoes. Your script is getting stalled by formatting. Juggling multiple projects feels like you’re babysitting several over-caffeinated monkeys. And your novel? Suffice it to say that the first draft of anything is nearly always a mess, and yours is no exception.

No matter how lovely your campsite, everyone eventually yearns for the comforts of home—just as you may be thinking longingly of the life you had before you committed to this insane writing project. In fact, you may be looking at your word count and thinking of pulling up your tent stakes and heading back to civilization a little early… but it would be a mistake to quit now when you’re so close.

Stop looking at the mountain of words you’ve yet to write. You climb even the steepest path one step at a time and that’s how you’re going to reach your goal: word by word.

Forget about the summit. Just set a timer and get 15 minutes of words down whenever you have a chance. Then do it again. And again. Each one is a single footfall, but they can add up quickly: you’ll be surprised how far you’ve traveled by only looking as far as your next step.

Formatting is for final drafts; just get the ideas for your script down. Fish out the most exciting parts of your novel, nonfiction, or other writing project, and watch how your basket fills with words. You may not be able to speed up your editing but you can apply a little heat and enjoy the melty deliciousness when your draft goes from raw marshmallow to something much better. Most importantly, just keep writing because every word you finish between now and the end is one you didn’t have before.

You already dragged yourself all the way out here, and it would be such a shame to miss that triumphant sunrise that awaits you at the peak.

– Hillary DePiano


Hillary DePiano

Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction, and nonfiction author best known for her play The Love of Three Oranges (which has been performed in theatres around the world) and her e-commerce blog The Whine Seller. A former Script Frenzy ML, she’s happy to talk NaNo-rebelling any time via Twitter. She also used to be the Assistant Director at a popular local day camp but it was a horsemanship camp so there were no marshmallows, canoes, or mountains to climb. There were horse-related ghost stories, though, and she’ll tell you them sometime if you’re good.

This was copied from Camp NaNoWriMo. As you read, it is about writing and finishing a piece of writing. So right now, I promise I will write Nakoma as soon as I finish this post. I swear on my life.

love animated GIF

See you after the next plot twist,

Chloe, PhD in Procrastination and Master’s in Keeping Promises


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