From Waging War to Writing Well

July 19, 2012

Epic’s avatar on NaNoWriMo

 

 A teen pen’s an epic writing pep-talk to herself, and us all.

 

 

 

 

I’m an avid NaNoWriMo’er, have been since 2001, and I’ve made many acquaintances on that site. Some who I return to year after year for more support and camaraderie in my (and their) writing.

The questions about craft run though most every thread in their forums and you can learn a lot if you are a novice and not sure how to get a grip on your writing.

Just recently I came across a fellow-Nano’er who’d posted something I thought was quite interesting and I asked if she’d care to be a guest poster to my blog.

Epic, as her user name shows, is just that. Here’s a sample of her work from the 2011 event.

She’s a teen and she’s participated in the 2011 November event as well as this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo in June and August.

It’s the wonderful post she made yesterday that brings her to my blog.

Epic’s cogent take on writing via her insights from a found volume of The Art of War just has to be shared, So here it is:

Soooooooo… Pep talk time! (Yes, this is written almost entirely for me. I write myself pep talks and then they’re all awesome-ish and I throw them out for the rest of yous)

I found this awesome website of free books and music (archive.org) and the suggestion for books was The Art Of War. Having never read it, I wandered over.

The first thing that book says? “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”

Hold up. That sounds exactly like any sort of writing. Can you imagine what will come down on a page if you bottle up that inner editor, tell yourself “I can write awesomely, even just for today. Tomorrow I can suck again, but today I am going to write and write well.” Bonus points: It’s never tomorrow. It’s always today. See what I did there? Moving right along.

If we could all just get ourselves to the point where we decide that we’re going to spend one hour writing, playing piano, knitting, sketching, whatever, and telling ourselves it’s good, that it’s good for something done by us at the very least, can you imagine what would show up? Now, we might not be the next Stephen King, the next Art Tatum, the next Da Vinci, but want to know their secret?

THEY DIDN’T START THAT GOOD EITHER.

So seeing as Sun Tzu was pretty awesome already, I kept reading. The next thing I found was, “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

Hold up. The more I take a chance, the more chances will present themselves? Well, quite frankly, yes. Think about it. A MC is walking through the woods, and suddenly, there’s a house on the left. They can keep walking, or seize the opportunity and walk into the house. The first way, nothing happens. The second way, anything can. Maybe they just discovered the secret corporation trying to rule the world, the home of a past lover, the home of a future lover… anything.

At this point, Sun Tzu sounds pretty smart. And then he said something that blew my mind.

“To find victory, you have to believe in yourself.”

Did you get that?

To win (whether the war, or just finish the first draft of a novel) you have to believe in yourself. It isn’t going to happen if you say you can’t. It just won’t. If you tell yourself you can, if you have it determined that you are going to (“The victorious man wins and then enters battle. The defeated man enters battle and seeks a win.”) YOU WILL WIN. There’s no maybe here. There’s no “see appendix A for circumstances where this is untrue.”

Nope. You will win.

So. What did we learn?

-We all start out badly. Tell yourself that for the next hour you are going to write well, and you will.
-Seize the opportunities presented to you and more will appear.
-Believe in yourself and you will win.

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