Ain’t Wasting Time No More

Chris Horne is a co-founder of the Crossroads Writers Conference and its director. A native of Macon, he stumbled into journalism at The 11th Hour, the city's alt-weekly, and after a stop working the city hall beat for the daily paper, found his niche at the area's #1 TV news station, WMAZ, where he's the manager of digital content. Better than all that, he's Madeline's dad and Heather's husband.
Chris August 15, 2012 3 Comments Insight

Let me ask you: What you would give to have finished a good first draft last year? To have spent the last several months revising, shaping it into something readable, maybe even looking for an agent?

Recently, I asked myself the same thing. My answer: Almost anything. Because in hindsight, getting back that lost year–one among many–would be worth the sacrifice, the price.

And as that thought settled, I was reminded I still have this year. I can prevent this year from feeling as wasted–writing-wise–as the last. After all, the Mayans, Aztecs, aliens and John Cusack may just destroy us before there is a next year.

When we started this writers conference, I thought that doing so would mean I’d write more. Really it just means I know more interesting people than before. However, in our fourth year, that’s changing. How? I’m busier today than I’ve ever been: a husband and father often working 10-hour days.

The difference maker for me–and maybe for you–is all about, as Chuck Wendig says, stealing back time. That is, it’s about making the decision that writing is what you’re going to do… not what you’ll do when you have the free time.

It’s like giving up cigarettes.

I smoked two packs a day for about ten years. I “tried” to quit a few times but smoking was always more pleasant than not smoking, so I constantly failed.

I’ve been working on one novel or another (or another) since I was 17. I’ve filled notebooks with random scribblings and probably six dozen first chapters. But because thinking about being a writer has always been more pleasant than the difficult and dirty job of actually being a writer so… I’ve constantly failed.

As with smoking, I have now, with my writing, come to–wait for it–a crossroads. Either I quit not-writing or quit thinking I’ll ever actually be a writer.

Oh sure, I’m a writer. I get paid to write and have for a little while, as a reporter and blogger. But journalism is to my desire to write fiction what a hard pack of Camel ultra lights were to my attempts to quit smoking: never enough.

I only quit smoking when I make the decision to actually stick with it. I think about un-quitting every day, just as I imagine I will be tempted to stop writing, to cruise baseball box scores or watch TV instead of grinding out a few hundred words about the sick and stupid imaginary people in my head.

This is easier for me now because I’ve tried (and nearly succeeded at) NaNoWriMo. Not only did I have a daily goal but I had a community of people supporting me. In the process, I learned how to make my self-editor shut up long enough to get a bunch of words out so I could find the story that I’d later revise.

Now, inspired by Camp NaNoWriMo and the fact that the man who invented all this stuff, Chris Baty, will be joining us at Crossroads, I’m going to complete a draft before the conference.

And then… I can stop asking myself what I’d give to have finished my book already.


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  1. Angel Collins Aug 18, 2012

    I’m in the same boat and at the same *ahem* crossroads. I actually “won” NaNoWriMo one year, but it drained me for the coming year and I didn’t write another word for nearly 4 months. I’m going to try again this year and it will help to have Baty here to kind of inspire, but I’m really excited about the returning writers and literary heavyweights! I can’t wait!

  2. Tish Rogers Mosley Aug 28, 2012

    What are you doing inside my head? I have this internal conversation on a continuous loop. I’ve often wondered what would loop in that space if I would just finish one of my WIPs. I appreciate the encouragement that comes from this common ground. There are 125 days left in this year. Surely, I can do more in 125 days than what I did in 2009 (NaNoWriMo winner). I can do this…


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