The first thing I quickly realized about NaNoWriMo was that it would not be easy. As soon as I announced I was going to do it, the members of my writers’ groups chimed in. Some people stated the obvious – it is nearly impossible to write a book in 30 days. Others mentioned that they had started countless times and had barely ever made it past the one-week mark. And some praised the challenge for the adventure that it was. It was all pretty daunting. But there was one thing that stood out above the noise. Someone mentioned that there was a how-to book.
That’s right folks. There is a how-to NaNoWriMo book. And if you have learned anything about me by now, it’s that I am a sucker for how-to books on writing. I had to have it. So, yeah. That picture is me. Stressing out. October 31st – the night before NaNo. I quickly came across a quote that spoke directly to my situation.
“The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent, it’s the lack of deadline. Give someone an enormous task, a supportive community, and a friendly-yet-firm due date, and miracles will happen.”
That was me all right.
No Plot? No Problem! was written by Chris Baty, the father of NaNoWriMo himself. Way back in the age of beepers and pagers (aka 1999) Chris felt this desperate need to write a novel and he got a few of his friends to agree to join in. That idea turned into a tradition and soon it became a movement. What started as twenty friends with nothing but a handful of desire turned into hundreds of thousands of writers becoming a community across all kinds of borders for one month.
So I signed in to the NaNoWriMo website, created an account, and dove into that community head first. I learned about write-ins; where NaNo writers meet just to type furiously as they race to meet their word count late into the night. I met so many cool people writing these amazingly different stories and so many of them were members of my own local artistic community.
Blog posts and letters of encouragement from published authors kept the flame of determination burning. It was shocking to learn that some very well-known bestsellers started out as nothing more than NaNoWriMo projects a few years ago. But the cherry on top is and annual Night Of Writing Dangerously hosted by NaNoWriMo. It’s a fundraising write-a-thon where participants meet to dress up in costumes, eat, chat, and write.
The sweat, blood, and tears that went into my writing that month was very well worth it. Trust me, there were more than a few sacrifices made that November. I will never forget feeling unstoppable as I sat down at my local coffee shop on the last day of NaNo to type and verify my last 8,000 words. Clearly, I was a bit behind. But I was determined to finish, so I did. And at the end of that night, I was sure I could do absolutely anything.
No Plot? No Problem! is for the writer who is ready to give NaNoWriMo a shot but still wants someone to hold their hand. The first half of the book talks about the history of NaNo and how people have benefited and participated in years past and the second half of the book is divided into the four weeks of NaNo. Each week comes with a list of things to keep in mind, things to help you keep your story going when you least think you’re going to make the word count, and distractions to look out for along the way. Check out a copy at your local public library or purchase a copy to underline and mark up. make it your own.
– Elkid M.