08 November 2005

Chris Baty - Pep Talk

Dear Writer,That whooshing sound you just heard was the first week of National Novel Writing Month sailing into the history books. It went pretty quickly, didn't it? I'm Chris Baty, the director of NaNoWriMo, and I'm here with some good news and some bad news about the week ahead.  The good news: In NaNoWriMo, all weeks are not created equal, and you've just completed a doozy. Pat yourself on the back, as some of the month's most taxing terrain is already behind you. Also, you know that uneasiness you've been feeling about your lack of a clear plot? Well, that's a worry for another week. Are you ready for the bad news? That week starts today.Yep. We've arrived at Week Two. Let the weeping begin.The writer Edith Wharton once described novel writing like this: "The beginning: A ride through a spring wood.The middle: The Gobi desert.The end: Going down the Cresta run."As you move from the spring wood of Week One into the trying climate of Week Two, one or all of the following are likely to happen:  1) The fun, good-time feel of the first week will evaporate.  2) You will decide that your book is a miserable failure, that you are a creative fraud, and that novels are best left to novelists. 3) You will put 1 and 2 together, and decide to cut your losses and drop out now while the getting is good and the fall TV season is still relatively new.  I cycle through these feelings every year I participate in NaNoWriMo, and I have two words for anyone who finds themselves falling into a similar Week Two funk: Cresta run.Yep. The greatest toboggan run in the world is just one week away. Make it through the grumpiness and self-doubt of Week Two, and you'll be rewarded with renewed energy and an eerily improved outlook on your novel. Work diligently through this, the hardest week of NaNoWriMo, and you'll see the tangled mess of your story begin to unknot, and your book begin to soar.   I know it's hard to believe. But look at all the work you've done already. You have characters! You have settings! Your manuscript has grown large enough to injure a small dog! Not that you'd want to injure a dog, small or otherwise. But still, you've done more in the last seven days then most writers accomplish in seven months. You've made it through the first huge week of NaNoWriMo. Now dig in for one more challenging push. It's going to be tough. But you can do it.   Oh man, can you do it. See you in Week Three, author! ChrisNaNoWriMo

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