It’s the brand-new year, two months since the end of the novel-crunching event of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and for all the NaNoWriMo writers participated, it is time to go through post-novel composition mode. For the writers who reached the 50,000 word count goal this year, congratulations. For those who didn’t, now is the right time to reflect and re-plan for next year’s NaNoWriMo. Maybe some of these writers decide to just stop at the last day of the challenge, but for those who want to improve their craft through revision of their first draft prose or for those who want to start a brand-new prose for next year’s event, The Office of Letters and Light, the organization behind literary challenge events such as NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy, prepared and published a series of textbooks and tools to provide the writers and would-be writers a guide to preparing for NaNoWriMo and tips during the event itself.
The Office of Letters and Light presented so far two textbooks: No Plot? No Problem! (along with its optional companion writer’s kit) and Ready, Set, Novel! writer’s workbook. For this review, I am going to feature the first guide book and its companion novel-writing kit: No Plot? No Problem.
This book was solely written by Chris Baty, freelance writer, writing coach, and founder of both the NaNoWriMo event and its organization, The Office of Letters and Light. This book primarily focuses on providing tips and guides to the NaNoWriMo writer and the would-be NaNoWriMo writer in two separate periods: months before November (the official month of NaNoWriMo when the challenge takes place) and during the challenge event itself. Baty used a lot of wit and humor throughout the entire book, making prose writing in 30 days a lot more user friendly, rather than presenting the text in the usual textbook language aimed towards students and professional.
For those writers who are just starting off or planning to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time, No Plot? No Problem! should be the very first book that they should look in to to provide a good start to their preparation. The preparation period of the book does not only focus on how to find inspiration for the prose you plan to write, such as general observation on public areas to watching TV or reading novels. The book also provides tips regarding the best locations, such as your own bedroom or your local coffee shop to your local public library, that you can make yourself your personal writing station and even tips on your other daily habits, such as your eating patterns while you write or the types of food you eat during your writing process. It also provides suggestions regarding mapping your word count goals per day according to your daily routines and schedules. Lastly of course, the book also provides tips on research and character building, depending on the type of prose that you plan to write. Fiction, non-fiction, or simply just freewriting, this book has various tips per prose type.
The second part of the book focuses the actual NaNoWriMo event, starting from the first week to the last week. More tips are provided, not necessarily towards the prose itself, but more of your personal progress during your writing. It also gives other tips relating to your personal maintenance from your current state to other ways of keeping yourself awake and focused to your writing. The author also provides a few pep talks here and there to keep you motivated and not drop out of the challenge with wit and humor. For example, on Chapter 7 of the book focusing on the third week of NaNoWriMo, there is a section called “Can I Give Up Now?”, in which there is a one-sentence statement written underneath the section: “No, you cannot give up now.”