Monday, October 14, 2013

No Plot? No Problem! Chapter 2

Cover of "No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Str...
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No Plot? No Problem!

By Chris Baty

Chapter 2: Time-Finding, News-Breaking, and a Step-by-Step Guide to Transforming Loved Ones into Effective Agents of Guilt and Terror

Baty calculates that writing your 50,000-word novel takes, on average, about 55 hours to write, and then tells the story of a novelist who always ends up cramming most of that 55 hours into the last three days of his writing month. 

55 hours isn't all that much to cram into 30 days, then, and here Baty helpfully provides the Time Finder.

The Time Finder is like the step of making a budget before you actually make the budget: you keep track of how you spend all your time over the course of a week, and then deciding what is necessary, what is a legitimate luxury, and what is a waste that needs to go. Once you do that, you'll probably find you have a few things that can give, and if that frees you up an hour and a half a day, you're set. Leave everything else in your life alone. Your everyday routines will only help your writing.

How you schedule your newly-designated writing time is up to you; whatever works is what works, so keep an open mind. Whatever schedule you decide to go with will get screwed up, and that's OK.

Speaking of things getting screwed up, Baty goes on to talk about how to accommodate for predictable problems. Week Two usually crawls, so get a wordcount buffer going during Week One. Chronic Procrastinator? Leave more free time open during Week Four.

Baty then encourages us to tell everyone about our novelling plans (hi, everyone!).  Not only will this, ideally, get them to encourage us in our endeavor, but it might just inspire them to take on their own.

Because, Baty goes on, writing with a partner or group means there's a pool of creative and competitive energy just swirling around that everyone can tap into.  Plus, everyone there gets it.

But a support network of non-novellers is good, too, because they can keep you fed and sane. He adds some talking points for how you should position your loss into the depths of NaNoWriMo to your non-writing network.  They're kind of silly ("It's not so much that I'll be absent for one month as it is I'll be exceptionally present for the other eleven.") but also heartfelt ("Doing this is important to me.").

You can also use your support network to terrify you into finishing. Well, that won't work on me; I never finish, I've been saying that all along, and I really don't feel like you'll be disappointed if I don't. But maybe it'll work for you, so: Boast -- you'll bring shame upon yourself if your bravado proves false! Gamble -- having money or extra chores on the line adds incentive!


The first sidebar of this chapter discusses how when you schedule time for noveling, somehow even more time frees itself up for goofing off and enjoying yourself.  So don't worry about that. 

The second sidebar lays down a crucial rule: never take more than two nights in a row off from writing. You'll lose both your momentum and your confidence.

Sidebar the third: Should you tell your coworkers?  In the past, I've gone both ways: I've had a supervisor who, in theory, let you do whatever you wanted on your lunch break, so long as it didn't look like a lunch break, because, God forbid, higher-ups might realize that people eat lunch! Gasp! I've also been in a situation where the supervisors were hands-off so long as the work got done, everyone in my section was an aspiring writer, and half of us were doing NaNoWriMo anyway, so it would be stupid not to discuss it.  Baty suggests erring on the side of discretion, if only because you're more likely to get away with it.

There's also a fourth sidebar that provides a handy chart of where your wordcount should be at the end of each day, but really: just multiply the day of the month times 1667.

A fifth sidebar gives helpful hints on hosting a write-in at your own home.

Are you getting ready for NaNoWriMo?

Updated 10/18/13 to correct typos

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