All These Little Pep Talks

Hi friends.

Three weeks to go until #1000wordsofsummer starts.

Have you been strategizing how you’re going to approach #1000wordsofsummer? Have you made any lists, brainstormed any ideas?  Can you channel any fears or nerves into excitement?

I’m always trying to flip my stress on its head, redirect it into something positive. Just because I haven’t done something before, only means I haven’t done it yet. I’d prefer to do the work – even if it’s hard or intimidating – rather than do nothing at all. And isn’t it better to have a new challenge, than to see only closed doors ahead?

All these little pep talks we can give ourselves all day long, but truly the only thing that matters is committing to it.

Last week I reached out to Dan Kois about his experience doing #1000wordsofsummer and I wanted to share one more success story. This time, it’s from Rachel Yoder, author of the forthcoming Nightbitch, a dark, funny, absolutely mesmerizing debut, about which Kevin Wilson says, “I could not love a novel more than Rachel Yoder's Nightbitch. It's such a uniquely brilliant book, one that looks at the intersection of motherhood and art, the terror of 'a thousand artless afternoons'. It is so wonderfully observant, so precise, and yet manages to expand and expand upon those initial concerns, turning magical, dark, and funny."

Rachel writes:

“When I decided to commit to #1000wordsofsummer, I had not had a consistent writing practice—had not written more than a sentence or two, even—for over two years, since the birth of my son. My brain was inert, sludge-y oatmeal, and it felt nearly impossible to activate even a single neural pathway toward words or ideas, much less anything approximating a book. Add to this the fact that my time was extremely limited, with stretches of two or three hours at the coffee shop to myself. I needed to be efficient. I needed focus and direction and a specific, achievable goal. This is not how I had ever written before. I was dubious.

I told myself just 1000 words, any words. After that, I could get a chocolate chunk cookie. I kept telling myself, when you’re done, you’ll have 14,000 new words. When you’re done, you’ll be closer to wherever you’re going. When you’re done, you’ll have all the cookies you want. I wrote. I ranted. I went on and on. I returned to #1000wordsofsummer in the winter and kept going.  And this is how my book got written after years of not writing and a profound fear that perhaps I just wasn’t a writer anymore. Turns out you only need to sit down a write to be a writer. Glad that #1000wordsofsummer reminded me of this.”

Nightbitch will be published on July 20 by Doubleday. Annapurna Pictures has optioned it, with Amy Adams starring. Rachel is adapting it.

See you soon.


You are reading Craft Talk, a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere). This week’s donation went to support NOLA Community Fridges.