I signed up to NaNoWriMo this year knowing that there was no way I could take part but enthralled at learning how it all worked and reading the thoughts of those that did. Next year I will attempt it. But I am SO happy I did sign up – imagine my joy when I opened one of the Pep Talks they organise half way through the month long process to discover it was Patrick Rothfuss. He is one of my favourite fantasy authors and the first book in his trilogy has turned into one of my comfort books – one of those books you return to when you have a need of a safe place to hide for a few hours and forget the real world.
The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear are wonderful stories that create a world it is so easy to inhabit and characters that leap of the page and into your heart. I have Kindle and audio versions of both books and I can heartily recommend both.
I’m adding just a snippet from his Pep Talk here but it really is worth a visit to the link to read the whole thing.
1. Yay, Verily. You Must Sit Down and Write.
1a. Thou shalt not go see a movie instead. Or watch reality TV. Thou shalt write. No. Stop. You don’t need to clean out the fridge right now. Neither dost thou need to sort the recycling. I’m not even kidding. Go and write.
1b. Thou shalt not just think about writing. Seriously. That is not writing. The worst unpublished novel of all-time is better than the brilliant idea you have in your head. Why? Because the worst novel ever is written down. That means it’s a book, while your idea is just an idle fancy. My dog used to dream about chasing rabbits; she didn’t write a novel about chasing rabbits. There is a difference.
1c. Thou shalt not read, either. I know it’s book-related, but it’s not actually writing. Yes, even if it’s a book about how to write. Yes, even if you’re doing research. You can research later. Sit. Down. Write.
He then goes on to ask a couple of questions in regards to breaking the rules…
…… Why would I ignore that impulse? When you’re enthusiastic, the writing comes quick and easy. And do you think my editor cried any tears that I’d broken that particular rule? Do you think my readers were pissed? No. No they weren’t.
To answer his third question – NO! I am your reader Mr Rothfuss and I say break every rule in the book if I get the next installment faster. And just while we are on that topic – do you really think you should be taking time out for Pep Talks when we are sitting (almost) patiently awaiting the final book? Yes I loved your Pep Talk but I really need that last book.
Another of the Pep Talks work mentioning was the one by Catherynne Valente – I really liked her Personal Rues but again it is worth reading her Pep Talk;
So here it is, cats and kittens: my one and only Personal Rule of Literary Land Speed Record Attempts, According to Catherynne Valente, Circa 2013.
(Like all rules put forth by writers, feel free to ignore it, or not, at your leisure.)
You can be good and fast at the same time.
Though it is important not to put too much pressure on yourself, it is also important to know that quality and speed have absolutely nothing to do with one another. You can write something heart-catchingly brilliant in 30 days. You can do it in 10. There is no reason on this green earth not to try for glory. You’re going to spend these 30 days at the computer anyway. You might as well be mindful while you’re there.
You can come out transformed.
Write something true. Write something frightening. Write something close to the bone. You are on this planet to tell the story of what you saw here. What you heard. What you felt. What you learned. Any effort spent in that pursuit cannot be wasted. Any way that you can tell that story more truly, more vividly, more you-ly, is the right way.
So holler. Tell it loud and tell it bright and tell it slant and tell it bold. Tell it with space whales and silent films or tell it with quiet desperation or tell it with war or tell it with dragons or tell it with tall ships or tell it with divorce in the suburbs or tell it with dancing skeletons and a kraken in the wings.
Tell it fast before you get scared and silence yourself. You’ll never wish you’d held back a little more.