Writing a Pep Talk

Writing a Pep Talk - NaNoWriMo Worksheet

If you’ve fallen behind on your NaNoWriMo novel, you might be in need of a pep talk right about now! Your characters may need one too, whether in a private conversation with a mentor, or on a crowded sports pitch, or on a field before battle. Or perhaps it’s your readers who await encouragement, motivation, incentive, impetus, ignition…


Writing a Pep Talk

Here are a few quick tips for writing a pep talk, from my favourite film, Gladiator. General Maximus is addressing the cavalry before battle:

“Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line. Stay with me. If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled, for you are in Elysium, and you’re already dead! Brothers! What we do in life, echoes in eternity.”

  1. Address your audience’s desires, and if possible, show how yours align with them (especially if you’re working together towards a common goal).
  2. Furthermore, offer them a vision of themselves in possession of their desired outcome.
  3. Give them specific instructions or tactics to employ.
  4. Throw in a joke to lighten the mood, and (if possible) the audience’s fears.
  5. Comfort the audience and show that you’re beside them to support, protect, and guide them. Demonstrate that you’re worthy of their trust.
  6. Offer a metaphor that gives the audience greater perspective on the challenge.
  7. Remind the audience of the reasons why.
  8. Make the speech timely, succinct, and to-the-point. Also, if possible, deliver it in a place that supports the message, or makes it more memorable.
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Good Luck!

A Few of My Favourite NaNoWriMo Pep Talks

  1. Chuck Wendig’s Pep Talk – “Imagine being allowed to do something you’re not supposed to do.”
  2. Jim Butcher’s Pep Talk – “NaNoWriMo participants are being deceived into thinking that being an author is a good thing.”
  3. Brian Jacques’s Pep Talk – “You know, you’ll disappoint me, if in a few years time, I’m not standing on line at a bookstore, waiting for you to sign my copy of your book.”
  4. Neil Gaiman’s Pep Talk – “Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die.”
  5. Jasper Fforde’s Pep Talk – “I once wrote a novel in 22 days.”
  6. Philip Pullman’s Pep Talk (I remember my excitement when this landed in my inbox!) – “This is a strange thing, but I’ve noticed it many times: a bad day’s work is a lot better than no day’s work at all.”
  7. Lemony Snicket’s Pep Talk (my absolute favourite) – “You should probably give up.”
  8. Meg Cabot’s Pep Talk – “Think about what made you fall in love with your work-in-progress in the first place.”

Neil Gaiman Writing Masterclass