VIDEO: Chris Baty at Crossroads 2012

VIDEO: Chris Baty at Crossroads 2012

“Everyone — and I mean, EVERYONE — has so much more inside of them than they realize.” National Novel Writing Month started almost in jest between friends. Its founder, Chris Baty, never expected hundreds of thousands of people to one day attempt it. He never thought so many of them would finish a 50,000 word novel over a November of writing insanity. And of those, that any would be published by a major press, let alone more than 100. Or that, in the case for “Like Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, be made into a major motion picture. But you don’t watch a cultural phenomenon like this unfold without learning a few things along the way. On October 6, 2012, Chris Baty shared with us Crossroaders the highlights of his hard-won lessons. We won’t spoil the surprise. Just press play for a shot of inspiration, courtesy of Chris...
Post Up: The Baty Booster Shot

Post Up: The Baty Booster Shot

It’s only been four months since Chris Baty delivered his moving keynote speech at Crossroads 2012. In the time since, many of you have started and completed novels during November for NaNoWriMo. We’ve been quietly working on ways to up our game in 2013. (More on that soon, we promise.) And Mr. Baty? Well, he’s taken his inspirational ways another step further. First, if you want to hear his speech again, here it is for your listening pleasure. (Videos from the conference are coming soon… ish.) Between globetrotting and working hard at his own writing, Chris Baty has also opened a little Internet shop of wonders, which you can–and dang sure better–check out here. There you will find posters and signs with that special Chris Baty touch of sincere care and interest in you as a person and a writer. Grab one and close your eyes, hear his motivational words echo around your head and remember that he believes in you so you should too. Then get to writing. And then write some more. And more. Make us all...
Amber J. Gardner: How I Got to Crossroads

Amber J. Gardner: How I Got to Crossroads

I decided to become a novelist shortly after my mom passed away in 2006 from cancer. My father had died (also cancer) when I was a year old, so I found myself without any immediate family and completely on my own by the age of 20. The latter was probably a good thing, the former not so much. It was the first time I decided to take writing seriously, but didn’t actually make any progress till I finally completed the first draft of a novel in 2008 thanks to Chris Baty and NaNoWriMo. Still, I wasn’t writing as much as I should’ve been due to perfectionism, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, etc. Once I failed to graduate college, I was miserable. I hadn’t achieved any goals and I was still living in Puerto Rico, which is where I’ve lived since I was five-years-old and desperately wanted to leave since I was 13. So after a Quarter-Life crisis, I decided I had enough. I was going to take my goals seriously. Moving to the U.S. was one of them, so after family on my father’s side found and contacted me (thank you Facebook!), I moved in with my aunt and uncle in Fayetteville, Georgia. Meanwhile, I’d become an avid fan of Chuck Wendig and his blog Terribleminds.com for at least a year now. He was one of my writing idols because he was doing it. He was writing full time and doing it HIS way. I loved that. Thanks to his blog and his books, I was writing more than ever before. So when I heard he was speaking at the...
The Chris Baty Interview, pt. 2

The Chris Baty Interview, pt. 2

And now we continue our interview with NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty with Crossroads Writer Makenna Johnston Makenna: Do you still try to write a novel every November? Chris: I do still write a novel every November! M: NaNoWriMo focuses on the get it done, fast first draft mentality of writing. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the ‘then what?’ and revision process. C: That first NaNoWriMo was such a shock because I discovered that you can write a totally credible novel draft in 30 days. But the subsequent thirteen years I’ve spent revising my NaNoWriMo manuscripts have taught me that getting a novel from promising first draft to finished product is HARD. I absolutely believe that the first draft of a story is best tackled in a deadline-driven frenzy. When you write for quantity rather than quality, you end up getting both. But when it comes to revision, you can’t just wing it. And because editing requires years of mucking around with a not-quite-there story, it’s really easy to lose momentum and give up. There are two tips I’ve found really helpful in keeping a book moving steadily through the rewrite process. 1) Work out your entire story arc before you start on the second draft. I tend to write up a ten-page synopsis of my book and share it with readers. Then I revise the synopsis based on their feedback. You’ll save yourself months of aimless wandering if you make a map before you head into the wilds of your novel. 2) Let your prose be ugly until you reach the third or fourth draft. This is...
The Chris Baty Interview, pt. 1

The Chris Baty Interview, pt. 1

One sunny November 1st in New York City, I started my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, steamy coffee mug in hand. I thought to myself ‘why not write a novel in a month?’. The answer? It wasn’t as easy as I had though. When November 31st rolled around, I hadn’t completed a novel, but I had spent a month writing daily, drank some 100 cups of coffee, and successfully sat in 20 different coffee shops late at night. I’d call it a success. What I did learn, other than that writing a novel in a month is arduous, is that being a writer wasn’t as novel or romantic as I thought it would be (pun intended). And I certainly didn’t need a fedora or a tweed coat to do it. So what sort of guy convinces thousands of people year after year to sit down and write a novel in a month? The inimitable Chris Baty. And guess who’s coming Crossroads this year?! The Chis Baty. The main inspiration and mad man behind NaNoWriMo, I’m not excited, I swear. Ok so maybe I am really excited. I asked a number of our Facebook followers what they wanted me to ask him. I hope I did your bidding appropriately good Crossroad-ers. Without further adieu: Makenna: So Chris, what was the impetus for you to write a novel in one month? Chris: Oh man. Such a good question. I think there were several things afoot that lead to the birth of NaNoWriMo. The most important one was just my life-long obsession with novels. I’m an only child, and books were my siblings...