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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Friday, October 28, 2005


Book review: No Plot? No Problem!

Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem! is the feel good book of the year for those individuals crazy enough to sign up for NaNoWriMo, the literary marathon in which you (and other crazy individuals like you) write a 50,000 word book during the month of November. So if you are signed up for NaNoWriMo, get this book. Hurry! Read it this weekend and you'll be set to start penning your novel next Tuesday, the start of National Novel Writing Month.

If you haven't yet made up your mind about participating in this year's NaNoWriMo, go out and get this book. Hurry! Read it this weekend, let Baty convince you that you can indeed write 50,000 words during the month of November, then get over to the NaNoWriMo website and register. Do it! Join me and roughly 50,000 other crazy individuals. It'll be fun, I promise!

This is the kind of enthusiasm that Baty's book exudes. As the founder of NaNoWriMo, he knows what it's like to struggle to meet that dreaded 50,000 word deadline. He's done it himself every year since 1999. According to Baty, writing five novels has taught him that:

1. Enlightenment is overrated
2. Being busy is good for your writing
3. Plot happens
4. Writing for its own sake has surprising rewards

Therefore, there's no reason why you can't write a novel in 30 days; you've got nothing to expect and everything to gain.

Baty's book is filled with lots of reasons, tons of persuasive prose, and oodles of good tips to get you to that 50,000 word deadline. That 1,667 words a day deadline. And don't worry, if you don’t exactly have a plot when you put hands to keyboard on that fateful Day 1, you certainly will at some point before Day 30. Baty is convinced of this.

But before you start, you first have to lose your own worst enemy. That's right, you. Your inner critic--also known as your inner editor--should be sent on a 30-day hiatus during NaNoWriMo. You just can't write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days if you expect all of the words to be good ones. But you can write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days if you keep in mind that what you're writing is what Anne Lammott calls your "shitty first draft." And writing a 50,000 word shitty first draft in 30 days doesn't sound too hard, does it?


I had made up my mind to participate in NaNoWriMo this year before I bought Chris Baty's book No Plot? No Problem! but I'm glad I went ahead and bought the book. Reading it made me realize I really could write a novel in 30 days. I plan to keep his book, my reference book, and my triple venti latte with an extra shot of espresso near me while I journey along on my month-long quest to proof to the world that yes, I am indeed crazy.

But won’t it feel good when you and I have written those 50,000 words? That’s when I'm going to stop, put my hands down, close my laptop, and pop the cork on that celebratory bottle of champagne. I'll offer a toast to you, a toast to myself, and probably even a toast to Chris Baty.

To crazy writers everywhere!