‘Twas the night before NaNoWriMo

NaNo-2017-Participant-Badge

Do you have a novel inside of you? An idea that you’ve thought would make a great story? Do you want to write a novel–pronto? Of course you do! NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity to write it!

NaNo, what?

November is NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month (where participants write a 50,000 word novel in the course of a month). I attempted the challenge many times, but last year was the first I completed. 50,000 words equals 1667 words/day. Typically, my daily goal is 1,000 words/day (about 4 pages). So this is…. a lot more.

Pumping out that many words is not easy, but I found it doable if I pushed myself. Errr…I mean if I slept, ate, and drank the story!

Here are a few tips I learned:

  • Write anywhere. I wrote those 1667 words from my desk, the dentist’s office, kitchen table, and even a train into NYC for the theatre. For some of the places without my laptop, I wrote by hand and put into the PC later.
  • Keep track! You can use the NaNoWriMo word tracking tool or simply write in a notebook. I wrote down where I started and my projected word count (after adding the daily 1667) words.  Some days reaching the goal was harder than others, but having a number there inspired me. Once I reached it, I could add more numbers (that I’d apply to the next day) or end for the day! But having that number pushed me to keep going!
  • Find a Buddy. The NaNoWriMo site offers a fun way to add friends! Encourage each other through emails, calls, or write-ins. Send your word count to each other! Or start the timer and do writing sprints with other NaNoWriMo challengers (check out @NaNoWordSprints on twitter).

And the biggest tip of all?

  • Enjoy it! Putting down a story takes courage, commitment, and lots and lots of coffee! At the end of Nov, you’ll look back at all the words and feel proud! I’m rooting you on! You got this!

How to get started

Enter your novel idea at NaNoWriMo, check out all the cool tools and inspiration, and then start NaNo’ing tomorrow, Nov 1! I’ll be keeping track of my progress here and would love to see how you’re doing too!

Want to be buddies? Here’s my NaNoWriMo page.  Send me yours!

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Got milk? Have I got a story idea for you!

milk2Where do stories come from? How do you know what to write?

From the time I started writing stories as a teen, I’ve always thought of the story itself as a milk carton. When I start writing for the day, the carton is brimming with characters and scenes. As my ideas leap onto the page, the carton slowly empties. Instinctively, when it feels like there is nothing left in the carton, usually around 4 to 5 pages in, I’m done writing. Anything more than this feels like I’m pulling and pulling on a fishing line, but not knowing the hook is stuck to the bottom of the boat!

But let’s back up for a second. Somehow story ideas have to fill this carton before writing.  It’s different for many writers, but below are a few strategies that work for me—and may help you!

Read, read, read…and people watch!

Most of the time, my ideas evolve from reading news stories or shopping!  Something interests me enough to ask the “What if…” question. From there, I add on questions. What if a corporate executive embezzled money from her own family? What if her husband faked his death ten years earlier?  What if she stole that purse and blamed her daughter?

As each possibility is added, the story builds. I also use Shirley Jump’s Rule of Six technique to explore the WHY behind the characters motivations/goals to add more emotion and conflict. Check out Shirley’s classes at Margie Lawson’s Writing Academy.

Your dreams are stories … use them!

I get many ideas from dreams!  Sounds like Twilight Zone material, right?

For example, about a month ago, a bad dream startled me awake about 3 a.m. It was about a camp in Pennsylvania, the kind of dream that leaves you sweating and unable to leave the bed to get a glass of water. Somehow, I summoned the courage and faced the darkness. When I finally fell back to sleep, the dream continued to a woman being drowned in the lake. And the bad guy was still after me!

How could that be?

In the morning, I was in the twilight area of waking when the dream finally, finally ended. And boom, just like that, something rocketed into my brain. My eyes flew open. It was as if all that night, the story wouldn’t let me go until I knew the ending. It wasn’t about the camp, or the bad guy chasing me, or even the drowning in the lake that was important.

It was about how the dream ended.

The ending would be my next novel.

I couldn’t talk, eat breakfast, or even have coffee (GASP!) until all this was put down in bare bones summary. This story, still untitled, became the novel I’m writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Ideas can come from anywhere! So, how do you get yours?