Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No Plot? No Problem!

No Plot? No Problem! : A Low-Stress, High Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

I just wrote a book in 31 days. Not that it will ever see the light of day, mind you. However, I do feel like I have accomplished a life-long goal as well as knowing it wasn't as hard for me as it sounded.

I did this after reading Chris Baty's book. And I read his book because of a recommendation in The Happiness Project (see my review here). And I read The Happiness Project because of reading bits of an interview in a dentist office's magazine. Never underestimate a visit to the dentist. But I digress.

The purpose of Baty's book is to get you to write a book of 50,000 words in one month. This is about the length of a thin paperback. The traditional National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is November. However, I chose May for my month just to see if I could do it. Plus I got an extra day. 

The purpose of No Plot? No Problem is to simply get people to write. Baty himself was an aspiring writer who took three months off to write and wrote...nothing. He found himself doing anything but write. He had the cleanest house and the most creative projects going on in that three month period but produced no writing. Later on, he and a group of friends decided to spend a month writing a 50,000 word novel. What he discovered in this month long endeavor is that: “The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It is the lack of a deadline. Give someone an enormous task, a supportive community, and a friendly-yet-firm due date, and miracles will happen.”

Baty tells the story of his own struggle to write and the birth of NaNoWriMo as well as some specific tips for writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I have to say that much of his advice was not necessary for me. I usually found that an average of 45 minutes a day produced well over the 1667 word daily goal that he proposes. Baty says that it takes the average typist one and a half hours to produce that word count each day. The biggest and best advice for me to write continuously was to go for quantity over quality.

To focus on quantity, you have to follow Baty's advice and ditch your inner editor. You are not writing the great American novel. That is not your goal. Your goal is to simply get the book written. You must put away your inner critic and just go for it. After about three days, I was simply typing as fast as the ideas came to me. I didn't worry about punctuation, spelling or typos. I simply kept writing. My book will probably never see the light of day and I will have to try the month of editing (50 hours of editing in 30 days - NaNoEdMo) before I will even let anyone read it.

But I did it!

What did No Plot? No Problem! Have to do with my faith? Well, I discovered that it was very freeing to ditch my inner editor, my highest critic. I came to realize that I carry that critic around with me all the time, especially in my spiritual life. Don't get me wrong – it is good to be accountable for our actions/ inactions. However, my own critical self keeps me from doing, feeling and being what God calls me to do/feel/be. That isn't to say I shouldn't listen to myself but I think I tend to listen to my critic rather than the Holy Spirit. Ditching the critic is freeing and who knows what spiritual growth I can accomplish without that editor breathing down my neck?

I enjoyed reading Baty's book – it was very funny throughout plus it contained lots of advice, reasons for writing and logical debunking of writer's block. I highly recommend the book – especially if you are interested in writing. And who knows, you and I may decide to challenge one another in November!

Happy reading – and writing!


Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

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