NaNoWriMo Week 3 Pep Talk: The Muddle and A Punch

Handing the blogging reins over to Rob Greene, Chair of the NH Writer’s Project, while I catch up on my word count. Thx, Rob! – Yvette

headshot-1Oh, man … what is it? Week Thirteen or something? My fingertips have calluses. My “e” key fell off, and I had to replace it with an actual Chiclet. I cracked my knee on a dangling participle and sliced my big toe on a really sharp sentence fragment. My plot’s going to pieces so fast people are getting hit by shrapnel!

Deep breath, Rob. Deep breath. You’ve been here before and survived. You’ll probably be here again. Sigh. Find the pep.

Hello, writers. How are you?  The first draft of a novel has has three parts — the beginning, the muddle, and the end — and I, expect many of us are fast approaching the murk. If not, if you’re still in the shallows, keep swimming, It gets deep damned quick.

I’ve not “won” National Novel Writing Month every year I’ve tried. Looking back at my stats, I see I have 3:8 success rate. I’m batting .375, which, in baseball terms, is pretty good. A couple of those times at bat I used to revise work in progress. I wanted to write along with the gang, but I didn’t have the life space for something new. If I cull out those projects, I have a 4:5 success rate, which means I am a flippin’ writing superstar and fully qualified to share advice and spread the pep!

Whew! And I was getting worried I didn’t have anything to say. Let me light my pipe, adjust my glasses, don this tweed jacket, and settle into this worn leather chair before I layeth my wisdom upon thee.

Ah, there we go.  Please excuse these fragment clouds of smoke.

In my youth, I spent a bit of time acquainting myself — and others — with the “sweet science.” Yes, like Papa Hemingway, I spent time in the boxing ring, testing my young, damp manliness against the other lads.

Throwing a good punch is a lot like NaNoWriMo.

Bear with me, please.

Two years ago I achieved a lifetime goal of banging out the first draft of a novel on a typewriter. Clickity-clack. Day after day. Page after page. Early November mornings. Fifty-thousand words in thirty days. But I didn’t stop there. I couldn’t. The story I was writing demanded more words, more pages. I wrote on. Forty thousand more words in the month of December, and I could finally type “the end.”

And now the punching part. When learning to throw a punch, you are encouraged to imagine yourself punching through your target. Don’t picture your sharp blow ending squarely on the rapscallion’s offending chin. Attempting to hit your target, visualizing that neat punch, will result in your fist slowing, your force declining, and a love tap that will amuse your foe and give him or her the time to layeth the smack down upon thee. Instead, imagine your righteous fist coming out of the back of his head. Punch through. The result will be a swift knockout and a victory for all that is good in the world.

Fifty-thousand words is that offending, smug chin. It’s an artificial goal. Punch through it. Stop looking at your work count. Plant your feet, square your shoulders, draw back your mighty fist and write.

— R.W.W. Greene writes short stories, novels, and journalism in various bars and coffee shops in New Hampshire’s Queen City. He currently serves as chair of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project. You can stalk him at and @rwwgreene.  


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