Yes, well, so I make up words. Sue me.
But, today, I wanted to highlight Chris Baty, from NaNoWriMo. He sent an amazing Week Two pep talk, in which several things jumped out at me. It was so good, and I had such a hard time picking which parts to share, that I figured heck with it, I’d post the whole thing here.
Hey there! It’s Chris Baty again, and hoo, boy, have I been watching some television. Do you know this show Battlestar Galactica? I’ve just started in on the first season, and I am shocked by how much stuff the show’s writers borrowed from NaNoWriMo.
For instance, Battlestar Galactica centers on a group of humans stranded in space after their worlds have been destroyed by their enemies. NaNoWriMo takes place in the space of November. In Battlestar Galactica, people are hunted by shape-shifting robots who sometimes wear red dresses. In NaNoWriMo, participants sometimes hunt for the, uh, red address bar, where…um.
Shoot. Okay, so the similarities break down a little bit at the granular level. But there is one irrefutable nod to NaNoWriMo in the show that many veteran NaNo participants likely noticed right away. The crew on BG use mysterious technology to “jump” from one galaxy to the next, folding time and space to cross vast distances in the blink of an eye.
This was obviously inspired by NaNoWriMo’s two famous wormholes, which fling writers forward (in a good way) when they hit 25,000 and 35,000 words. At these magical tipping points, normal rules of NaNoWriMo physics no longer apply. Forward writerly motion becomes easier, fitful stories take off, and word-counts begin accelerating towards warp speeds.
Our mission this week is to heave ourselves up to the precipice of the 25,000-word wormhole. From where I am now, that feels woefully far away. In reading through the forums, I see I’m not alone. Our non-noveling lives have turned hectic, we’re facing tough decisions about what to do with our characters, and we’re grumpy from lack of sleep. I am also—for the third year running—facing the very real possibility that my protagonists might literally bore me to death.
To help get us through Week Two and on to the exciting worlds beyond, I have a few tips I’d like to share.
1) Write every day. Even if you just knock out 75 words before collapsing into bed, those 75 words will keep you connected you to your story in essential ways, and make diving back into your book much easier.
2) For now, stop thinking about 50K. Just sprint thousands. Visualize each writing session as a tall staircase made up of 1000 steps. You are part ninja, part monkey, and part stairmaster cyborg. You were born to fly up those steps. Bash out 250 words, and you’ve made it halfway to 500. Keep going for another ten minutes, and you’re past 500 and within striking distance of 750. Once you hit 750, you could sneeze out enough words to get to the top! After each thousand, be sure to take a quick break and celebrate. Then fire up that monkey spirit and go run another thousand.
3) Remember that your book is important. I didn’t say this in the Week One pep talk because we’d only just met and there’s really only so much cornball sentiment from a random guy on the internet that anyone should have to tolerate in one month. But here’s the truth: You have a book in you that only you can write. Your story matters. Your voice matters. The world will be richer for you seeing this crazy creative escapade through to 50,000 words.
This may be hard to believe given the craptastic state that many of our manuscripts are in. But there are great, unexpected things ahead for you in Weeks Three and Four. And there is someone out there who has been waiting their whole life to read the book you’re writing now.
So don’t slow down. Don’t give up. We’ll be at the first tipping point soon!