This catalyst, this secret weapon is the heart, the essence of NaNoWriMo’s motivational success. Though essential to NaNoWriMo, this tool can, without doubt, be brought to bear on other areas of one’s life.
Here are Baty’s words of explanation.
“…When I actually sat down to write my first novel back in 1999, … I discovered that my ideas about novel writing were woefully mistaken. You don’t need a plot before you write a novel, nor do you need an evocative sense of place or a winsome, engaging cast. You don’t even need coffee (though I still haven’t allowed myself to fully come to terms with that yet.)
What you really need is a secret weapon.
You need a superpowered, diabolical device that will transform you into a bastion of literary accomplishment. And I’m happy to report that this implement is in the house, and it’s just waiting for you to pick it up.
…Without hyperbole, I can say that this tool (tucked securely at the end of this chapter) is the most awesome catalyst that has ever been unleashed on the worlds of art and commerce.
…What you need to write a novel, of course, is a deadline.
…A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most ass-kicking form.
…The bigger the artistic project, the more it needs a deadline to keep marshaling those shy ideas out onto the world’s stage.
…as those of us who are forever grumbling about our uncreative lives know, …that rock-solid dream-fostering deadlines are hard to come by in the arts world. It’s a sad irony that deadlines are given so freely at work (where we want them least), and are in such short supply in the extracurricular activities where we need them most.” (pp. 25-28)
“…For me, the revelation I couldn’t shake was this: The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It’s the lack of a deadline. Give someone an enormous task, a supportive community, and a friendly-yet-firm due date, and miracles will happen.
Thanks to the go-go-go structure of the event, the stultifying pressure to write brilliant, eternal prose had been lifted. And in its place was the pleasure of learning by doing. Of taking risks, of making messes. Of following ideas just to see where they lead.
Writing quantity rather than quality, I discovered, had the strange effect of bringing about both. It didn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense to me, especially as a writer who had spent days laboring over seventy-five word record reviews for the local paper. But the proof was incontrovertible, and everyone who finished NaNoWriMo that first year agreed: We were only able to write so well – and have such a merry time doing it – because we wrote so quickly and intensely. The roar of adrenaline drowned out the self-critical voices that tend to make creative play such work for adults.” (pg.14)
And then, this wonderful book provides said deadline in contract form at the end of the first chapter. It’s written up nicely and ready for you to sign. Being the nerd I am, I also bought a little kit called “No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit” by Chris Baty. The contents of said kit included a rolled and beribboned affidavit. I duly signed it, had it witnessed by the nearest available housemate, and hung it on the wall next to my work area.
I have been neatening up the area, getting it ready for November 1st. (Pictured above.) The affidavit hangs nearby as a reminder of my pledge to apply speed, dedication and perseverance.
In case you are curious, the kit also includes a 48 page booklet, Daily Noveling Briefs, a month-long calendar/log with gold star stickers, (also on the wall next to my work table) motivational materials, and a winner’s badge for when you have completed your novel.
One thing I can say, is that making it fun…makes it fun…however that looks to you. Never underestimate the power of a gold star, a special hat or a new T-shirt. They can have the power to pull that inner kid and his/her joy out from its normally tucked away corner of your psyche. I say, let’s unleash our real selves on the world during November and completely flood it with our (going to throw up a thesaurus here) lively, dynamic, spirited, animated, vital, vibrant, bouncy, bubbly, exuberant, ebullient, perky, frisky, sprightly, tireless, indefatigable, enthusiastic ENERGY. Because, goodness knows, that’s what the world needs right now.
Baty, C. (2004). No Plot? No Problem!. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
Baty, C. (2006). No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.