No Plot? No Problem! Revised, Part Six

If you’d like to start at the beginning, here are the links. Preparation, Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four.

This is for when you’ve hit 50,000/your word count goal, or the end of the month happens. Whichever you get to first.

Baty has some closing words about how awesome you are for making it through, regardless of if you made the words or not. Because let’s be honest, a 50,000 word draft in a month is just creative madness when you’re starting out. And, when you adjust the goal to meet where you’re up to so it’s still a challenge then getting through is still amazing.

What I really liked was the part where Baty converted word count into book pages. That was a fantastic little bit of morale boost for the exhausted writer I was when I stumbled across the end word count goal I’d set.

Baty also reminds you to celebrate with the people who helped you make it over the line, or even as close to it as you got. And I intend to do that. After a nap. And some healthy food…

The other thing he talks about is the after-effects of finishing NaNoWriMo. Especially since there is an anecdotal evidence that there is a state of ‘post-novel depression’, and I have felt it too, and wrote this ramble about it. Having a bit of a guide to come back to the real world and finding ways to include writing in your normal life is also really helpful.

It’s also got some ‘now what do I do with this?’ advice, and since if you’re anything like me there is a giant pile of typo riddled manuscript, it’s reassuring that there is a plan. And that it’s okay to have stories that didn’t work.

What I really like about this version is the advice on how to revise your work It walks you through a process you can use if you haven’t done it before, and gives you a timeframe so it keeps the two main cornerstones of NaNoWriMo with you. You have a plan, and a deadline. They may look different, and you’ll have to learn how to get along with your Inner Editor, but it’s worth it.

And there is a final bit of advice that I think is so important I have to repeat it. It’s okay to just write for fun. People do all sorts of things for fun, and writing can by a recreational activity that you challenge yourself with. Writing can be enough. It doesn’t have to be publishable. It can just be for you.

Just writing because you want to is enough.

 

Even if you never intend to try and smash your way through a novel like a drunken goat through undergrowth, this book gives examples of some really handy mental tricks to get your writing, editing, and putting it all in perspective so it can stay fun. It also prepares you for the ups and downs of creative endeavour without glossing over the parts that suck.

This is definitely a book I will go back to, likely when I’m in the middle of the overgrown estate that is Week Two and Three, because it will remind me that Week Four is coming.
And that it’s really nice to write ‘The End’.

20150830_104037

Bridget and I having a bit of a relax in her paddock. Getting up is overrated.

Advertisements

No Plot? No Problem! Revised, Part Five

Looking for the previous parts? Start here, then on to here, and here, and then this one.

It’s Week Four! The end is, theoretically, in sight!

And Baty is nice enough to give an estimate of how many writing hours there are left if you are doing other things like working and sleeping. Sixteen hours. 16 hours. To finish the novel. Baty is about confident you can do it. So confident, he advises going and getting champagne or its appropriate substitute already.

Which is in part because Week Four is make or break time. And it can be really tempting to just call it early and let yourself move forward at your own pace. I bet you can guess how Baty feels about that by now.

There are tips for coping with holidays should it be a problem for your month of choice, reassurances that the plot will start moving again, and some hints about where to find ideas if your mind has turned to mush.

There are, naturally, tips on how to either carry on the momentum or stretch out the manuscript to hit the magical 50,000 words, and some exercises to give a boost and mental break. After all, that final mad dash to the finish line and victory is practically a NaNoWriMo staple.

And, thankfully, there are words of wisdom from people who have been there and have various levels of completion once Week Four hits.

And just to get you enthused, Baty has even included some glimpses of what your life may look like on the other side of writing The End!

Week Four is a glorious, messy slog to the finish line. But as Baty pointed out, if you do things for twenty hours a day, there are still four you might be able to leverage to your writerly advantage. And a lot of words can be written in that time.

20140928_154358

Trust your Plot Bunny. It’ll be fine!

No Plot? No Problem! Revised, Part Four

There are three earlier parts here; the preparation, Week One, and Week Two.

Week Three. Back into it!

This is where the word debt gets recovered, and the momentum comes back. Hopefully.

And, as always, there are good warnings about the nature of the challenge and the difficulties that can bring too. Because the idea is to write the book in a month, and you should be halfway through the story. Thankfully, there are some notes on how to get that happening. And those tools, once used, can actually really help with plotting out a novel before throwing words at a page, but that’s a different post all together.

One of the best things about this chapter is the introduction of the 3/30/10 exercise. You do 3 blocks of 30 mins with a 10 min break. It’s designed to get your word count up, and your characters behaving themselves. I love that exercise. And it really works. Which is why I pulled it out of the chapter specifically to write it out, because it is honestly good enough to be a tool that makes it all come together.

Week Three is a tricky beast, and Baty and his various NaNoWriMo Winners are quick to point out that this isn’t just you. It’s the week. It’s part of the process.

What I really like about this chapter is the sense that you are really not in it alone. Sure, it comes through in other sections well, but here it’s like they really are standing at the end of this tumultuous week, waiting to open the gates of Week Four and usher you into the magic of that sighting of ‘The End’ that comes with Week Four.

Despite having done NaNoWriMo a lot, I really like the exercises, advice, and pep talks in this chapter. It really does help to break down the weight of the word debt, and give a reassurance that this is just like ever other time Week Three has started with a suck dragon lurking in the woods.

The secret, as always with NaNoWriMo, is to balance productivity with some mental space exercises to keep your mind active and prevent overwhelm. It gives some nice ideas on how to do that, and a framework for you to work with if those ideas don’t suit you.

20140627_165948

Time to put your procrastination hobby aside and get back to the words!

No Plot? No Problem! Revised, Part Three

Looking for Part One? Click here!
Or the lead into Week One? Try here.

Here we are, Week Two!

The fervour of Week One has had some great effects, but as Baty points out, Week Two is a bit of a different ball game. Or, as Baty says, there’s a storm coming.

Thankfully, there are the warnings so it’s clear this happens to everyone and that Week Three is worth the slog. Which, if you’ve done this crazy novel month thing before you already know but the reminder is nice. And timely.

The advice in this section is, as usual, pretty on the mark for what NaNoWriMo is about. Write the word count, you or your characters will find something to fill it with, and this is the roughest of rough drafts. Just keep writing.

Of course, that comes with caveats, tips, and some motivational insight so that the idea of getting it written rather than right comes through. Including how to get your support network coming in to help get you out of some plot trouble! Some of which I haven’t used before, and I may just test out this time around.

 

There are a heap of little tips and tricks that are from NaNoWriMo Winners, and again, there are some new ones for me so I am really glad I read it. Especially since Week Two really can be a hard slog.

Sleeping Helper

Week One can be exhausting!

No Plot? No Problem! Revised, Part Two

Looking for Part One? Click here!

Week One, it begins!

Ah, the introduction to the Inner Editor. I always love this section of the book. It’s one of my favourites because Week One is exciting, and I have total permission to leave my Inner Editor with a collection of others so she doesn’t come back whinging about being ignored. It’s a lovely feeling.

Baty has once again made the whole process of starting the first week of a crazy adventure engaging. He also manages to convey the contradictory nature of NaNoWriMo in a way that makes it much more fun because the premise is ridiculous.

And the tips and tricks are definitely a great introduction for new Wrimos, and a good reminder for those who’ve made the crazy trip into Noveland before. You can forget things when it’s been a few months since you started at the start.

It is going to be crazy, run with your characters and do your best to get a buffer of word count.

Make sure you Inner Editor hasn’t snuck out of containment.

Enjoy the process.

The Pep Talks and tips from NaNoWriMo winners should give further ideas on how to make this first week successful.

And with that, I should go actually write the first words for this attempt. Week One, enthusiasm and beyond!

The Fluffy Cat decides my Magna Cartas will do. For now.

No Plot? No Problem! Revised, Part One

One of the most important books in my writing life was No Plot? No Problem! and I credit that book and the online NaNoWriMo community with giving me the small step goals that got me here. If I can write 50,000 words in a month, can I write a full story? If I can do that, can I write a longer full story? What happens if I plan out the book beforehand? Incredibly important questions. And incredibly important skills.

Which means this review series will be a little biased because I love the idea, the process, and the community. But, a bias declared is a bias acknowledged, so keep it in mind.

This book is designed to get you through a month long writing project, a guidebook for the NaNoWriMo process. You can start whenever you want, and you can do it all without getting online. Unless, like me, you have the digital copy. Not the point.

As usual, the first section not only gives some background on the crazy endeavour that is writing a book in a month. It also busts some pretty necessary myths that really can hamstring your attempts. Don’t worry about it being perfect, make time to write but actually write, write if you don’t know what’s happening, write if you do. Basically, write first and worry about editing later. Which is largely how you get through NaNo, in a blaze of writing glory much like a firework set off at an odd angle…

Thankfully, the first section contains tips, tricks for getting yourself set up. This includes people wrangling, contingency planning, novelling headquarters options, tools lists, and suggestions on some ways you can make more time available to you for your epic writing month. All very handy things, and some of them do creep into your habits if, like me, you end up doing a lot more than one month novel push a year.

It also gives you information on how to work out what level of pre-production you need. As the title suggests, you can have as little as you want. The important thing is not to overdo the pre-production.

One of the best pieces of advice here are the two Magna Cartas. The list of things you like, and the list of things you hate. This means when things from the second list creep in, you can kick them out much earlier because you know what they look like.

There are also some good questions to ask yourself about character, and good guidance on starting out your plot.

And because I am going to use this Camp NaNoWriMo to read the book as it was intended, I’m stopping here. No writing on the story itself until Day One. No reading ahead.

So far, the book has lived up to its purpose. It makes the idea of writing a novel in a month fun and not scary, it gives good guidance on how to set yourself up for success without sacrificing things unnecessarily, and has good titbits from Wrimos in there too. So far, it’s made me more confident rather than less.

It currently has a place on my writing craft shelf.

One of the things recommended for the month is to find a writing totem. Here’s mine for month!

1490746922852821462937

WILF: ‘Use Your Words’ by Catherine Deveny

I bought this book on a whim because it had ‘You are my special snowflake’ in the introduction. Shallow, likely, but since I’m the human half of Team Snowflake I decided to pretend the universe was giving me a sign.

I am so glad I did.

Catherine Deveny has a vivacious style that makes it easy to keep reading her advice. The other reason I kept reading was that the advice was great. And she made me laugh, which is definitely necessary when you’re looking at the cold hard truths of writing. Like it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, just write the darn book.

Picking up this book when I was at a stage of deciding just how much quitting writing would be the better idea. I had the ‘done’ button in front of me and was about to hit it and forget all the horrendous half-drafts in my pile of files.

Deveny took that wrung out me and walked me through the fact that what I write is likely shit. That it’s okay to write shit. You are the only person you are writing for. She made it completely okay to be  Gunna, and to take the step from someone is ‘going to’ write to someone who is writing. And that was all before she got to the actual craft stuff!

The big thing I’ve taken from the craft section is her goal setting. It is on my sticky notes as ‘half, half, half again, quarter of that and treat!’ with a smiley face. And she’s right. Taking the smallest part to get something done will make it happen. This blog post, right here? I was going to write the intro part. And then I got a cup of tea. And I wrote the little bit about the style, and patted the dog. And here we are past where I thought I would get to with the review today. Deveny is brilliant.

She makes it easy to feel like you can honestly just start writing and enjoy it, with the confidence to play with your voice because this is for you. First and foremost, this is for you, so do it. Otherwise, why would you be reading the book in the first place?

The other thing I really liked was her use of text-to-speech to help speed up the editing process. I got myself a neat add-in for Word, because I’m still using Word, and there is nothing quite like a vaguely stilted British woman reading your work to you. It really helps catch the words you’ve misspelled and where things actually don’t make sense.

This book is now one of my go-to books for getting started writing. It helps me relax when I feel nothing but the weighty anxiety of being ‘good enough’ to actually call myself a writer, because even if I only write to make myself feel things it still counts.

If you are able to get a copy, do.

And when you feel self-doubt creeping in, remember these words are for you. And if you want to, you can delete them or burn them or whatever else you want to do with them. But they are for you, no one else. Just keep going!