Chris Baty, "No Plot? No Problem!"

Chris Baty, "No Plot? No Problem!"

This review is going out to all you NaNoWriMo writers this year!  I'm not participating, but I'm with you in spirit, cheering from the sidelines!  And a special note just for the NaNoWriMo writers: yes, you should buy this book, now GET BACK TO WRITING.

Now, for the rest of the world!  NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, in which you sign up to be part of a crazy madcap race to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.  This works out to approximately 1,600 words per day.  It sounds implausible, impossible, even.  But it is not, and if participating in NaNoWriMo teaches you anything, it is that you are capable of far more than you would ever have thought possible.

NaNoWriMo is the brain child of Chris Baty, who began the challenge among his group of friends one year.  It has since swelled to a massive online event, with over 119,000 people participating in 2008 (with a whopping 21,683 winners).

Baty wrote No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing A Novel in 30 Days speaking from his own experience with the crazy.  Each week of NaNoWriMo contains new and different challenges, but never fear, Chris Baty is here to talk you through it.

Whether he's explaining why you should write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days in the first place, or helping you find an agent for your completed work, Baty is the voice of light-hearted sanity.  The book itself is written concisely, in bite-size increments, for which the NaNoWriMo participant will be grateful.  Who has time to read and pontificate upon a massive tome in November?  Not someone who's juggling life while writing a 50,000 word novel, that's for sure!

Baty has also included useful tools, including a Time Finder (which helps you identify and take advantages of gaps in scheduling in your life - and do you REALLY need to vacuum the carpet?  What's the worst that will happen if you don't?) to an official deadline which ships with the book and "hounds you every step of the way, forcing you to write when you don't want to, badgering you into meeting daily word-count goals, and turning your life into an obsessive literary hell for four weeks."

No Plot? No Problem! breaks down everything you will need to complete the challenge, then offers special tailored advice and encouragement for each week.  (Sample advice for week 1: "Don't delete.  Italicize.")  Along the way, the advice is heavily larded with helpful exercises to silence your Inner Editor, spark your creativity, and unearth the novel that you really want to write (as opposed to the one that you thought you wanted to write when you started this crazy thing).

In theory, you can do NaNoWriMo on your own, in any month of the year.  I think your success at that would be far greater if you were working with a copy of No Plot? No Problem! But it is still best left to the official month of November.

Long story short: if you have ever wanted to write a novel, then you need this book.  You want this book.  You will find yourself sleeping with this book nestled on your pillowcase beside you.  I understand that plenty of people finish NaNoWriMo without having read it, but I can't understand why, or how.  Order a copy immediately!