You must wedge it: A NaNoWriMo pep talk for week four


What I know about pottery I learned in the art elective I took my senior year of high school (approximately 100 years ago). One thing I remember is that you had to prepare the clay before you could make anything with it. Before you could throw it on the wheel and reenact the scene from Ghost, or roll it into long, snake-like coils and build yourself a lopsided, hideous bowl you were probably going to give to your parents (thus forcing them to pretend it was a masterpiece and save it forever) you had to wedge that damn clay.


Our teacher would hand us a lump of the stuff and we would knead it and knead it and cut it and put it back together until our hands were tired and we were developing carpal tunnel. The clay, fresh from the giant lump wasn’t ready to be anything yet. It wasn’t ready to be an ugly sculpture or a beautiful bowl. It wasn’t ready to be anything. Before we could make anything with it we had to get the clay ready.

That’s where you are with your novel. You are preparing the clay. NaNoWriMo isn’t about putting clay on the wheel and turning it into a beautiful, delicate vase. It’s about preparing the raw material you need to come back a month from now, or six months from now and turn that lump of words, that raw material you have wedged, into the vase or bowl. November is not for creating your masterpiece, it’s for preparing the stuff, the ball of clay, that you need to make that masterpiece.

You can always take those lumpy, bumpy words that hang together in a lopsided clump and edit them into something better. If you don’t put in the work now to throw your story into a workable ball, you’ll have nothing to spin into the story you imagined when you first started this crazy month.

You are almost done. The month is almost over. The end is in sight. All you need to do is keep pressing and kneading and mashing out those words so that when December 1 rolls around you have a big ball of words, a pile of raw material to work with. You have that masterpiece in you. But forget about that dreamy perfection right now. Put it aside because now is for banging and squeezing and mashing every last word into a shape you can use later.

This has been a whole heck of a lot of fun to write with all of you. Whether you end up with fifty thousand words or five hundred I am so super duper, stupidly, emphatically, proud of all of you who gave this a shot. You’ve all inspired me to work harder and write when all I want to do is sleep or watch TV. You’re an incredible bunch of writers and I am honored to have been on this adventure with you.

Don’t forget you can always tweet at me (@lucyhallowell) or chat in the comments here or the NaNoWriMo forum if you need a boost between now and the end of the month. Keep writing, you’re almost there.

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