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NaNoPrepMo Pep Talk

by Vanessa Preston


Note to self, and anyone else who needs a little encouragement …

20 days ago you decided to do this crazy thing called NaNoWriMo, and bursting with excitement you started planning your brand new story.  Ideas flew and characters queued up to join the ride.  20 days in though, you have more questions than answers.  Plotting now feels like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle that’s missing half the pieces (mostly just the middle, a few corners and the edges you like to place first as a reassuring frame).  It’s hard to see the big picture, and the start of NaNoWriMo is approaching like the ticking crocodile in Peter Pan … immensely thrilling and terrifying.

Take heart.  Millions have gone before you on this perilous and wonderful journey.  You’re not alone in your quest to plot a novel worth reading, crafted from wishes and dreams.  Thousands of writers walk beside you at this very moment, gathering the materials needed for their masterpieces, just as you now search for yours.

You can do this.  The choices you make are not set in stone.  This is your story and you can let it change direction as you go.  Once you have something on the page you can play with it and try on different ideas until you find ‘the one’ which makes your heart sing.  The trick right now is to keep searching.  Brainstorm.  Ask why, and what if, where, when and why not?

Stay playful.  There is no need for pressure and perfectionism just now.  Remember, you sent your inner perfectionist on holiday … if she calls tell her you are managing quite well without her.  Her job as editor is secure, she’ll be welcome to return when the time is right.

Make a glorious mess!  Trust your creative instincts and let your pen dance across the page.  You’ll have time to beautify your plot ready for the grand ball later, but this week, shop around for ideas, try on concepts and themes and motives.  Take some time to get to know your story from the inside out.  Admire her twists and turns.  How?  Play with your ideas.  Let them ALL in and see what they have to say.  When the moment comes, you’ll know which ones to invite to the ball.

Be brave!   There is no wrong or right way to navigate the maze of possibilities.  Explore.  All paths lead to adventure, and behind every door there waits a prize … a world waiting to be discovered, or a character ready to trust you with her true self.  Climb those trees.  Crawl into the caves.  Search far and wide for the elements that make your story come to life in your mind.  If it fascinates you, it will interest your readers.

Draw upon the wisdom of the ages, your faith, the spirit within you, the inspiration gathered from the wonderful stories you have read, the experience of authors who have gone before you.  Let them be your guide and friend.  Your quest is a noble one.  You are fit for the journey.  You have all that you need.  Go forth with courage and seize the day!

I hope you have enjoyed my whimsical pep talk … if you’d like to follow my novel planning process, check out my daily NaNoPrepMo diary at InkyWings on Facebook.  If you’re planning a novel let me know how that’s going!

Authentic Voice

by Vanessa Preston


Articles about authors and artists finding their authentic voice always grab my attention.  Being authentic is one of my top priorities in life and creativity, and my interest is piqued by opportunities to learn what authenticity means to different people.

In a quick video posted between sessions at Tribe Conference last week, Jennifer Blanchard mentioned authentic voice, then asked this question:  “What frustrates you?”

It seemed like a strange question to relate to the subject of finding your authentic voice.  But according to Emily P. Freeman, your frustration is the key to understanding what your voice is all about and what you want to share with the world.  Jennifer told us what her frustration is and how that influences her key message.

Usually a simple prompt like this gets me thinking, and a journal page or blog post will flow quite naturally. Not this time.  But I couldn’t let it go.  Fortunately my pen works more efficiently than my brain sometimes … I started to write a response, and this is what emerged.

What frustrates me?

  • Frustration:  Not doing things I KNOW will help me be healthier, brighter, happier etc.  Self-sabotage, defeatist thinking, an idealist avoiding action.
  • Solution:  Change MINDSET – opt in, step up, take action


  • Frustration:  Being a martyr.  Silly thoughts, like, ‘To keep you happy I won’t do what makes me happy, then I’ll be miserable and that’ll make you miserable’
  • Solution:  Adjust FRAME of REFERENCE – I often find scriptures to replace the lies I tell myself with bigger truths.  I can think of many which apply here!


  • Frustration:  Focusing on scarcity, thinking I don’t have enough time, space, skill etc.
  • Solution:  Shift PERSPECTIVE – be grateful for what I DO have, focus on the abundance of possibilities and opportunities presently available.


  • Frustration:  Multiple interests and priorities competing for my attention and time.
  • Solution:  Rethink REALITY – it’s wonderful to be a multipotentialite!  My interests can complement each other instead of competing.  My faith gives depth and light to my writing and art.  Writerly thought adds complexity and narrative to my art. Art gives me a playful outlet for ideas, and a way to express my faith.


So … what does all that say about my authentic voice?

I guess this exercise reminds me to allow ALL the parts of me to connect and intersect, to help in pursuit of my overarching goal (GLOW:  inspire, empower and encourage).  

My authentic voice seems to flow best when I write by hand.  This is why I handwrite my blog posts in my journal.  I did the same for the entire first draft of my new ebook (due for release in November), “Writer’s Apprenticeship:  21 days of Exponential Growth.”

Here’s what Jeff Goins has to say about finding your authentic voice:

10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice
You Have a Voice
Your Voice is Louder than Words:  Interview with Todd Henry

Here’s an article Jennifer Blanchard wrote about How to Find Your Writing Voice.

Grab a pen and a journal and figure out what authentic voice means to you.  I’d love o hear about it!