On Friday, we featured an interview with National Novel Writing Month founder Chris Baty. Today’s the last day to sign up for the even so I suggest you head over to their website soon. Baty wrote No Plot? No Problem! as a companion piece to writing a novel in a month. In the book, Baty advises against doing very much planning prior to beginning your novel. There are some great reasons behind going into the event with a clean slate.
One reason to limit pre-planning is that you might just stumble across a great idea. “Every year during National Novel Writing Month, I get emails from people jubilantly informing me that they’re dropping out of the contest because they’ve found a story they love, and they want to work on it slowly enough to do it justice,” he writes in No Plot? No Problem! When I check in with these people six months later, they’ve inevitably stopped working on the book entirely. Why? Because they’ve become afraid of ruining their book by actually sitting down and writing it.”
A second reason to limit pre-planning is that past a certain point, planning just becomes another excuse not to write. “You will never feel sufficiently ready to jump into your novel, and the more time you spend planning and researching, the more likely you’ll feel the pressure to pull off a masterwork,” Baty writes. “Give yourself the gift of a pressure-free novel.”
And a third reason to limit how much you do prior to beginning the event is that prewriting takes some of the fun out of the discovery. “You’ll still have lots of questions about your book when you start writing. Which is great. It makes the writing process one of happy discoveries and keeps the levels of surprise and delight high for you as an author.”
I’m going to give it a go this year. I have no misconceptions that I’m going to write the next great American novel nor am I going to get rich. But I do expect that the NaNoWriMo event is going to teach me a lot about the discipline needed to churn out 1,666 words every day, I do expect it to be fun, and I do expect to learn a lot about writing when I abandon my inner editor. I’m the type who obsesses over a page for weeks and I often find myself stopped by roadblocks in a story. NaNoWriMo forces you to blast through those roadblocks and just keep trucking. Which is exactly the type of experience I need so I’m looking forward to the event. I’ll keep you posted on my progress as I endeavor to write a novel in a month.