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...
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...
Why I tried NaNoWriMo

Why I tried NaNoWriMo

Some time last year before my first Crossroads Writers Conference, I happened upon National Novel Writing Month quite unexpectedly. I’m not sure exactly but I believe a west coast writer friend “liked” the Office of Letters and Lights on a social networking site, and sounding quite lovely, I endeavored to find out what exactly that was. Part of it was restlessness; a restlessness that I am sure many writers feel when they are struggling to find their way with the written word. (I had my work as an alt-weekly journalist, although I was still somewhat intimidated by the process of interviewing others.) But first and foremost, I felt born to tell big stories using my own voice. It’s a birds-eye view of a labyrinth, sitting down at one’s desk and sifting through the ball of string that will ultimately lead you out, safe from the monsters that haunt blind alleys and dead ends. Needless to say, that sensation is not a little daunting. Recharged by the creative inspiration from the conference, inspired and driven by a sense of competition, I dived into the NaNoWriMo experience with a hunger that kept me pushing forward. Watching the little blue progress plotter was like running a marathon against myself. Knowing that others were staring down the same struggle with varying degrees of success and failure made me realize that though I was in my own world, we were part of a system of worlds. We saw each other from telescopic distances, in awe and comforted by possibility. Every day I wanted to be at twice the necessary word count, because if I...