No plot, No problem…Really?


The countdown for the start is here. The annual National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) starts in just 2 weeks. I have signed up for the daunting task of writing 50,000 words of a new novel in just 30 days. I am attending a plotting session tomorrow and I have no idea what my story is going to be about. For an experienced novelist, maybe that doesn’t sound so challenging (lacking a plot and direction with a deadline looming) but to me it is scarier than Freddy Krueger.

Over the last few months, I have been trying to work on my first novel and I have hit writer’s doldrums. I can’t say it is writer’s block, because it is more that I feel like aspects of the book are more work and less fun. Oddly, once I got the direction of the story and had a reasonable plot mapped out, I lost momentum. So here I am on the verge of starting a second novel, but I have no plot and I am wondering what is going to happen when I actually know what the plot is. I have read my college English professor’s book, “Write to Learn” and according to him, you write to learn what you don’t know (like the questions you are seeking answers for, such as the plot!). Is it possible for me to spend 30 days to write 50,000 words until I learn something and then just stop?

I am not so worried about getting started because I feel like I can find something to write about to get out of the starting gate. My fear is that I will get stuck and lose excitement part way through. Even though I have heard that my experience is typical (struggling at this particular point in a novel) I take little comfort in the ‘typical’, because a pile of yet unwritten words stands between me and winning NANOWRIMO. There is actually a book written for NANOWRIMO called, “No Plot, No Problem” with lots of tips and tricks and after reading it I couldn’t decide if it made me feel better or worse.

Maybe like pre-game, pre-show, or pre-race jitters, I am experiencing a bit of cold feet. I worry whether I can do this thing that I committed to over 6 months ago. I have been training (blogging, writing daily pages, practicing on my other novel) but can you ever really be prepared for something like this? The only thing I can do now is stock up on coffee, midnight snacks and earplugs (so I can focus without having to hear the kids arguing) and just plan to sit down and write each and every day. This isn’t about being perfect or correct, it is about writing. Some people say, “Put your butt in the chair and just write”, and I guess that is what it all comes down to. Instead of worrying about plot, maybe I need to invest in new cushions for my chair. I know once start date arrives I will be fine because, like every other day, I just have to write.

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3 thoughts on “No plot, No problem…Really?

  1. I completely understand how you feel – I’ve been trying not to dwell on the NANOWRIMO challenge – just have the date circled on my calendar, and have made plans to escape a couple of hours each Saturday and Sunday to write, write, write! Didn’t know there was a book out – tell me, would you recommend another person reading it?

    1. The No Plot No Problem books wasn’t bad, but it definitely made you see that NANOWRIMO was truly a challenge and that it would be hard to complete. Simple things like, “your wrists will hurt”, were a surprise to me. They have it at the Chandler Library if you want to check it out.

  2. Wow, what a challenge! Such a great way to push yourself though. I am trying to start some tentative novel writing and I feel like I have nothing to say after the first few chapters. Very annoying and not fun. GOOD LUCK!!

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