In Chris Baty’s book, No Plot? No Problem! A low-stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days the National Novel Writing Month founder and participant lines out for us the how, when, and why of the creative time keeping and word-smithery of writing a novel in one month.
Though I won’t go into a large, detailed review of this book (mainly because it is more of a ‘how to’ than most anything else), I will tell you this; If you are a writer and you want to just sit and get, this is a great book to read! The advice, pithy sayings, and curious turns of phrase leave you wanting to get your notebook or typewriter or whatever newfangled flippy tablet/laptop/mp3 player you’ve got handy and start scribbling down new ideas immediately.
Some of my favorite things that Baty has the reader do are as follows:
1) Take a moment at bedtime to write your very own ‘Time Finder’ – a list of everything you did that day broken down into 30 minute increments. After a week of nightly ‘Time Finder’ journalings, bust out highlighters and mark down everything that is REQUIRED, Highly-Desirable, and/or Forgo-Able. Add up your ‘forgo-able’ times and see if those items that you won’t die without, add up to enough time to really sit and write (they do, I promise). USE THAT TIME TO WRITE.
2) Make Two lists – one of things you LOVE to find when reading and the evil twin list of Things that make you sick and depressed when reading. Example: I LOVE books that bring characters to a natural elements and really allow me to ‘see’ those interactions through wonderful prose. I become sick and depressed by books with teachers/parents/guardians who mistreat their children.
3) Remember the deadline – setting a deadline for yourself (every blog post should be finished by 2 pm. November 30th at midnight, exactly 5 minutes before my boss fires me for incompetence) will help push you to greatness
4) Have your writer’s pack set up…this includes snacks, a notebook, the write pen (see what I did there?? 😀 ), a ‘totem’ that makes you feel like a writer, or a character in your story who is relaying said story to the outside world, a word processing unit of your choice, and a reference guide for grammatical questions (and perhaps one for any specific types of world you’re using in your work. I, for instance, have a printed up explanation of the types of jobs on a salvage ship). Using these can help your flow as you venture into the next project.
5) And, the easiest of all, BRAG. Honestly, just bragging to your friends and family about how you’re going to be writing a novel (or blogging every day, or learning to rock climb on horses etc.) is a fantastic motivator. If your friends and family are anything like mine, they will continuously check on your progress until you want to dramatically threaten to stab them in the eye with your unsharpened pencil (it’s dull you twit, it’ll hurt more!). They may annoy you, but the thought of mockery and derision from loved ones can be a great motivator when you are lying in bed, thinking about how lovely that extra sleep would feel. Suck it up sassy pants, no sleep for the deadlined author.
Think on it, ruminate with it, carefully weigh and communicate with your writing utensils, and read Chris Baty’s works.
I give this book an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 dragons (and not just because I’ve been a proud NaNoWriMo-er for the past 6 years).