Start writing! The first step to getting published

Today’s feature comes courtesy of the awesome folks at Workman Publishing, who asked National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) founder Chris Baty to write a guest post for them. We loved it so much we wanted to share it on our blog as well. One reason we’re such big fans of NaNoWriMo? It’s what started Sara Gruen writing Water for Elephants. Another reason? Algonquin Publicist extraordinaire Megan Fishmann is participating in it–she wrote ten pages alone on the first evening. Enjoy!


The four principles of successful publishing are a core idea in The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. The third point is: WRITE. To inspire you, here’s Chris Baty’s advice.


Top Five Reasons Why You Should Do NaNoWriMo This November


1. You deserve a creative adventure. We get so focused on paying the bills and taking care of people around us that we forget how important it is to make time to make stuff. Think of NaNoWriMo as a thirty-day writer’s retreat plunked down in the middle of your busy life. It’s a chance to recharge your creative batteries and explore your imagination. Whether the book you write is ultimately genius or dreck doesn’t matter. Making stuff just feels great, and tackling big, fun projects helps make life more magical.


2. Absurd deadlines are easier to hit than realistic ones. Human beings are amazing procrastinators. Give someone two years to write a 50,000-word novel, and what you’re really giving them is two years to feel guilty about not writing their 50,000-word novel. Give that person 30 days to write the same book, and they’ll get it done, no sweat. Tight deadlines bring focus and build momentum, which ultimately makes them much easier to achieve than their open-ended cousins.


3. The quality will be better than you think. There will be beauty. There will be hilarious plot twists. There will be moments of unexpected synchronicity and rushes of writerly euphoria. There will also be a lot of crap. But such is the nature of first drafts. A novel is just too complicated to nail on the first go-round. If you want to write a book, the most important thing you can do is get a beginning, middle, and end down on paper. As a wise person once said: you can revise a bad novel into a great novel, but you can’t revise blank page into anything but a blank page.


4. Novel-writing is actually a great social activity. The fact that 200,000 people around the world will be tackling this ridiculous challenge alongside you makes it exponentially easier to get it done. NaNoWriMo’s forums are bustling with support and encouragement, and NaNoWriMo write-ins will be taking place in your city and town throughout November. Having company on your month-long writing adventure creates accountability and opens up exciting opportunities for literary smack-talk.


5.  If not now, when? With everything else going on in your life, November is probably not a good month to write a novel. But there will never be a good time to write a novel. Do it now before another year slips away. It’ll be easier than you think! And come December you’ll have a great new novel to read—your own.


Chris Baty is the founder of National Novel Writing Month and the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo’s parent nonprofit, the Office of Letters and Light. Chris is the author of No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. He’s currently hard at work revising one of his ten NaNoWriMo novels, and looking forward to writing his eleventh novel with you this fall.

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