Novel writing is the desire of many but only a few get round to ever writing the first draft. Of course this is due to both internal and external reasons.

Internal reasons

Internal reasons may vary amongst individuals but the major reason is fear. A number of us allow the fear of failure to cripple us before we even attempt to achieve a goal. Here are a few quotes to help conquer your fears and challenge you to step out.

“Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure.”
– Jack Lemmon

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”
– Truman Capote

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
– Sir Winston Churchill

External reasons

You may have told a few people you want to write and you have been ridiculed. You were probably told writing is for those who are highly talented and so you don’t fit into that category. You may also have been told that publishing is difficult and a wannabe will never be able to get the attentions of any of the traditional publishing houses. In addition, you may have been told you need a bachelor’s degree in creative writing before you can ever write.

Pick up Chris Baty’s ‘No plot? No problem!’ and all the reasons above and a number of others will be diffused!

Chris Baty in his book, ‘No plot? No problem!’ told of how the pioneer group who participated in the first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) had no experiences, did not take any creative writing courses, did not read any how-to-books on craft of novel writing. Now he did not imply that equipping yourself was not necessary but the secret to achieving your dream of novel writing is to sit and write! You can take all the courses and read all the books but if you don’t write, you cannot improve on your writing skills.

He narrated their first writing month experience of which the first week was a good start, second week became challenging. However, as they stuck to it, the characters of the novel took over and at the end of the month, novels of 50,000 words and over emerged. Did some people drop out? Yes but for those that stuck to the end, it was a satisfying experience. Their novels at the end of that month may not have been the best but one of the achievements is that they wrote their first drafts.

That is why I like Chris Baty’s ‘No plot? No problem! – It encourages you to forget about perfection and dare to write your first draft of novel. At the end of the first draft, you may have a direction as to whether you want to really be a novel writer or not. If you realize you enjoyed writing your novel, then you will be propelled to learn more about the craft.

Chris states in his book that the adrenalin activator you need to achieve your goal of novel writing is a deadline. In his words, “The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It’s the lack of a deadline”. A deadline is your secret weapon; not plots or characters. He said deadline brings focus, forces us to attain goals we would otherwise postpone and encourages us to see possibilities.

Indeed he got me thinking and I agree with him. We always procrastinate on ‘the important but not urgent things’ such as novel writing because they do not have deadlines. And so they are kept in the ‘till I ever have the time’ list. However, we are prompt with ‘important and urgent’ things because they have deadlines.

So your novel writing sits in ‘till I ever have the time’ and years pass by. Now with NaNoWriMo organized by Chris Baty and his team, you have the opportunity and the deadline to try your hands on novel writing.

Another weapon he recommends to ensure you write your novel is to recruit a support group to motivate you.

You may choose to use bragging as a form of motivation. Bragging puts you on a spot because you would not want to brag and fail to deliver. Chris says it’s a device for creating expectation for completion. Yes, to help you get to 50,000 words (recommended minimum words). So if you want to adopt this form of motivation, then go ahead and brag to friends and family. Send emails and boast that you can write a novel in one month. Your friends and family will keep a tab on you and know if you will actually make do your boast.

The idea is do all you can to ensure you meet the 50,000 words. Go ahead and put yourself in a tight corner such that the only way to get out of it is to write 50,000 words of your novel.

If you really want to write you novel and you need some form of motivation, may be of help. It creates an avenue for you to set a goal and achieve it through “commitment contract”.

So if you have been procrastinating writing your novel; employ the opportunity given by NaNoWriMo, and support of families and friends to write your novel in November.

For writers with family especially young children, Chris has got tips from parents who learnt how to write and be guardians at the same time

Chris also discovered from their first experience that writing for quantity and not quality has a strange effect of bringing about both. The more your write, the more comfortable you will be with your writing voice and style.

From No Plot, No Problem, I came away with, I may not have the perfect scenes, character development or plot but I should sit and write; and as I spend time with my characters, plot happens.

So go get yourself a copy of “No plot? No problem!” from Amazon, writers’ digest shop or any of your local bookstores

Go to NanoWriMo site and register.

Then get ready to write your novel in November.


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