How To Be A WriMo Vlogger: Interview With Kat O'Keeffe
I met the prolific and fabulous vlogger and NaNoWriMo novelist Kat O'Keeffe at last year's Night of Writing Dangerously, and I was a little starstruck. Can you blame me? With weekly videos attracting 30-, 40-, and sometimes 100,000 viewers, she's a YouTube sensation and an awesome member of the NaNoWriMo community. Kat, AKA Katytastic, started vlogging in 2011 as a way to track her NaNoWriMo progress that year. "I basically just rambled about my word count for a few minutes a day, but then people started watching my videos and requesting that I ramble about other things--my outlining process and writing craft resources I liked and my favorite novels." In this interview, Kat shares generously as ever, talking NaNoWriMo, writing with a timer, and the joy of experimentation in writing and sex.
Kristy Lin Billuni: I didn't realize your awesome vlog began as a NaNoWriMo thing. I'm pretty thrilled to hear about yet another amazing creative force to arise from NaNoWriMo. But the Katytastic vlog is so much more than that now.
Kat O'Keeffe: Oh yeah! Over the years it's evolved from a vlog tracking my personal writing journey to a collection of writing videos, book reviews, publishing news, and more.
KLB: You've sustained a consistent presence on YouTube for three years already. What's your secret?
KO: I try to post at least once a week, though sometimes even that is difficult. But the enthusiasm from some of my viewers really keeps me going. I've discovered such an amazing community of writers and readers online, and their support is by far the best thing about making videos. I want to be an author because I love telling stories and entertaining and making people laugh, and I feel so incredibly lucky that I get to do that through YouTube as well.
KLB: And you've been doing NaNoWriMo for even longer?
KO: Yes, every November since 2009, and a Camp NaNoWriMo session last year. This will be my 7th round of NaNoWriMo.
KLB: So many WriMos get hooked. Why do you keep coming back?
KO: Honestly, it's the community. I'm a relatively fast writer when I put my mind to it and I want to do this professionally, so I don't really need a special month to focus on writing. But the community experience of NaNoWriMo is unlike anything else. There's such a special atmosphere this time of year--thousands of writers all over the world supporting and motivating one another--it's magical!
KLB: And what is your NaNoWriMo plan this year?
KO: I'm really just to going to try to carve out an hour or two a day to focus on writing. I'm hoping to participate in plenty of writing sprints, because those are always fun. And I'm tentatively planning to bring back the daily vlogs to track my progress, because those really kept me accountable and on top of my word count.
KLB: I hope you do the daily videos! I love them! I think it's really generous when writers show each other process. Can you share something about your current process, maybe something you haven't talked about on the vlog before?
KO: Thank you! I've been pretty open about my writing process, so it's a bit difficult to think of something I haven't already shared! One thing that I like to do is divide my chapters into 200-500 word sections. Then I'll work on one section at time, pretending it's the only excerpt someone mildly interested in my novel is going to read, so I'd better make it amazing to hook them!
KLB: That is brilliant--sounds like a great polishing or revision tactic.
KO: I find revising and polishing incredibly intimidating, so taking it one little piece at a time really helps me.
KLB: And what about first draft writing?
KO: Drafting and plotting are my favorites. I've learned that the pressure of a timer keeps me on track better than anything else I've tried. So I'll get a fresh cup of coffee, turn on some music, put 20 minutes on the timer and get to work on that 500-word section. Once the timer goes off, I take a short break then move onto the next section without looking back. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist, so if I don't force myself to move forward, I would spend all day debating comma placement in a single sentence. This method also helps me avoid getting blocked or feeling stuck, but if that does happen I just try to diagnose the problem--am I feeling stuck because I don't know what happens next? Or do I hate that last paragraph so much I don't want to move forward? Or is this totally boring and I need to add something cool to breathe more life into the scene? If it's a small thing, like I can't think of a witty bit of dialogue on the fly, then I'll skip it for the time being. I just try to keep myself constantly moving forward.
KLB: Sounds like you really understand what works for you. That's sexy. Do you think writing is sexy?
KO: Oh, writing is super sexy! And like sex, it can be fun, messy, emotional, intense, and exciting. And to keep it exciting, I really recommend trying new things. It might be easier to stay in your comfort zone, but experimenting a bit can really spice up your life. Don't be afraid to take a risk and try something different--you might end up loving it!
The Sexy Grammarian meets amazing writers wherever she goes and loves bringing writer interviews to readers on the blog. Watch the Katytastic vlog now or follow her on Twitter. Follow the novel-in-a-month madness by cruising The Sexy G's NaNoWriMo Twitter list. Encourage The Sexy G's new procrastination obsession: creating gifts-for-writers treasuries on Etsy. Looking for a gift for the WriMo who has everything? What about your friends going to Night of Writing Dangerously? Do you know a NaNoWine-O?