Saturday’s Softcover: Feeling a Little Batty in November . . . make that Baty!

Chris Baty founder of NaNoWriMo in his Berkeley apartment.Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

On Oct. 8, 2013, Chris Baty,‑‑‑founder of the National Novel Writing Month (better known as NaNoWriMo) and author of several Chronicle Books‑‑‑was interviewed by them at “The Top Five Reasons for Not Doing NaNoWriMo This November.”

Baty is hilarious‑‑‑who else would have come up with an idea like “I know: let’s get thousands of people, on all 7 continents, in 45 different countries to write a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30 . . . EVERY YEAR!”  His blogs are funny, his books are funny (and inspiring).  But no, the above was not his original idea.  He conceived of writing the 50K himself in 1999.  Then he talked about 20 friends into doing it with him.  Some of them gave up. Some of them “made” it.  Some of them LOVED it‑‑‑and wanted to give up their jobs, go back to school for a degree and become full time writers.  Some of them discovered “I really DON’T want to be a writer ! ! !”  ALL of them learned something.

The next year, some came back and tried again, others didn’t.  But year after year, word of mouth got around, then newspapers like USA Today picked up on it, and the effort grew.  He said in the last 15 years, he’s heard a lot of reasons for NOT doing such a crazy thing, and gave Chronicle Books the top 5 excuses‑‑‑and the short version of his VERY biased responses:

1.  “I’m too busy.”  Good!   Being busy means you have a limited amount of time and you’ll be less “self‑critical.”  Besides, you’ll need a break from your routine‑‑‑writing your own ideas down could just give you that.

2.  “I’m not a writer.”  You don’t need to be “a writer” to enjoy a life‑changing, joy‑filled month “bashing out a book.”  If you NEVER do it again it will still deepen your understanding and appreciation of books.

3.  “I’ve done NaNoWriMo before. Do I really need another unfinished manuscript on my hard drive?”  This may be the year you write “The One”!

4.  “No one can write a good book in 30 days.”  Sadly, that’s true.  But you might come up with a wildly imperfect first draft.  Novels take a few to “find their footing.”  Revise your bad draft into a great book‑‑‑you can’t revise “a blank page into anything but a blank page.”

5.  “I don’t have any ideas.”  Baty claims to go into November thinking “I’ll run out of material by the second paragraph”!  Remember when you were a kid with a crayon or a marker?  That’s all you needed to unleash all kinds of monsters and mayhem.  “That fearless inventiveness is still with us . . . just show up at that blank page . . . . your imagination will take it from there.”

Wait a minute!  This was supposed to be a Saturday’s Softcover: a book review!

Oh, yeah.  Well, if you need help Noveling this month, pick up a library copy, or send for Chris Baty’s fun and funny and helpful book, No Plot?  No Problem!:  A Low‑Stress, High‑Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days.  You’ll find secret weapons, ways to help your family help YOU, magical tools, stockpiles of delicious incentives, ways to cruise for characters, pan for plots . . . and way more.  If nothing else, it will keep you laughing while you type away.

And, by the way, most cities have Write‑Ins at local libraries and/or restaurants and coffee houses; a get‑started party (probably in the last days of October‑‑‑but they do a GREAT TGIO [Thank Goodness It’s Over] party at the end too).  An all ’round good way to meet other budding authors and make some new friends.  You can even have virtual friends by signing up with “writing buddies” on line: have contests with them to see who can write the most words in 10 minutes, or 30, or a day.276069395_fca916c100_o

If you need a starter couple of “writing buddies” on their site [] you’ll find me listed in both Salt Lake and Utah County’s regions and online with them as BenschWensch, of course.  My husband, Herb, will be there as BamaSaltyDog.  See you there!

AND see you day‑after‑tomorrow for Monday Moans!


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