Hi, folks! Jill here again, operating under the happy assumption that the internet hasn’t exploded yet in my absence. I’m still on the road (or rather, the ocean) and still desperately clawing out my tiny word contributions toward my Camp Nano goal. One of the things that always seems to help me (you know, when I can actually get on the internet) is to participate in writing sprints and word wars on Twitter. And, what do you know, I found a real, live sprint leader willing to chat with me!
Here’s my interview with @NaNoWordSprints sprint leader Chris K. Come enjoy his wisdom!
Jill: Hello! Who are you?
Chris: Okay… my name is Chris K, I live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and have a day job as a database programmer across the bay in Burlington. I have a brother, a sister, a brother-in-law, two nieces and a nephew. My father and my grandparents have passed away, but my mom is still with us and I hope will be for a long time. I collect digital gadgets and toy animals like teddy bears, and I’ve started to learn to draw. (Link to http://drawingteddybears.wordpress.com/ , my art blog!)
Jill: What first got you interested in writing? What sorts of stories do you typically write?
Chris: I think I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember; I had this weird story about pre-European-contact people living in Nova Scota and having blacksmithing that I tried to tell my parents when I was still in the early grades. I wrote crazy stories about wizards with little pet dragons and teenagers serving as junior officers on starships when I was in high school–basically thinly disguised fanfic before I realized fanfic was a thing.
I still write mostly science fiction and fantasy… I love to write about true love, mysterious treasure, alien invasions and starships.
Jill: I met you through @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter, where you are one of the sprint runners. What got you interested in large scale sprints? How did you get involved in @NaNoWordSprints?
Chris: I’m not quite sure when I first got involved with @NaNoWordSprints as a follower. Since the first years I did Nano, (which is going to be year 12 this November,) I was a regular in the “Word wars forum”, where you can set up word wars with strangers for a certain amount of time or take up challenges like writing to a 3 digit number that somebody else posted, or to the nearest round thousand in your word count.
I probably found out about @NaNoWordSprints there. I remember that I looked up how to become part of the @NaNoWordSprints team after I’d signed up to be the Hamilton co-ML for the first year, and then they had an open signup for anybody who’d already been an ML for one year. But the next year, they’d changed the policy, and said that they weren’t looking for any new sprint leaders! However, the April after that, I spotted a notice asking for MLs interested in running sprints for Camp NaNoWrimo, and I’ve been part of the team ever since.
Jill: What are the benefits of writing sprints? What can you get out of sprints/group writing that is hard to attain elsewhere?
Chris: I think that sprints, in their own way, distill the main benefits of NaNoWriMo: meeting other writers, getting an infusion of creative energy from the simple fact that others are writing at the same time as you are, and a push to focus for a short time on writing something new and not worrying about making it perfect on your first try before you continue.
Jill: Say you had an author who was pathetically unproductive without fellow sprinters (*raises hand guiltily*)- what could such a writer do during non-NaNo months to keep moving forward on their projects?
Chris: There are lots of ways to challenge yourself or find other writers to challenge you. You can always search on twitter with tags like #amwriting or #wordsprint , or visit the Nano word wars forum at http://nanowrimo.org/forums/word-wars-prompts-sprints — though that forum doesn’t get so much activity in certain months of the year.
There’s also a site a Nano made which runs three automated word wars every hour at http://mswishlist.com/war – and other places over the net where you can join writers to share more long-term goals. Journeymen writers have gathered here on the storywonk forums – http://forum.storywonk.com/index.php?/topic/2007-tjw-goal-sharing-support-thread/ – and I’m admin of a small writer’s forum with a lot of focus on goal sharing and support, at http://stringingwords.freeforums.net/
Jill: If you could give only one piece of advice to a new writer, what would it be?
Chris: Write for the fun and joy of it, and keep writing. There are a lot of different ways to pursue success on the publishing side, but if you can’t keep writing fun you won’t get too far with it.
Jill: Closing thought: give us a one-book reading recommendation.
Chris: Terra, by Mitch Benn. This was given me by a good friend–literally, she handed me the trade paperback and said “I think you should read this.” It’s the hilarious but touching story of an Earth girl who accidentally gets abducted by an alien, (he scared her parents and then takes the baby girl because he thought she’d been permanently abandoned,) and how she saves both her adoptive home planet, and planet Earth. There’s a sequel out now, and the third part of the trilogy is upcoming I believe.
Big thanks to Chris K for the interview! If you find yourself lagging in your word counts, you should give word sprints a shot. It just might be the jolt your story needs to get crackin’. Happy writing!