3 Tips for Generating Ideas During NaNoWriMo, by Jess Gately

Stuck for ideas during NaNoWriMo? Here’s 3 tips to get you back on track…

Whether you’re pantsing it and having a bit of a dry spell or planning it and need a little something to fill the gaps, it’s almost a given that at some point in NaNoWriMo you’re going to be stuck for ideas trying to get from A to B.

So we’ve got 3 easy tips to help you figure out what to do with that space.

1. Ask yourself ‘what if?’

‘What if this happened instead?’

‘What if the story was told from this person’s point of view?’

‘What if this didn’t happen?’

‘What if the antagonist was the protagonist?’

‘What if the protagonist died?’

Asking ‘what if?’ is a great way to generate alternative storylines and subplots that can help lengthen your novel and strengthen the complexity of your world. It’s also a great way to develop characters and their motivations. As you come to understand different characters and their motivations, you’ll naturally be able to create conflict as your characters’ individual needs and desires compete with each other.

2. Look through old journals and writing activities for ideas you’ve forgotten

This is where all that journaling comes in handy! This is one of the quickest ways to move your story along. Read back through some of your old journals and look for characters, or ideas, or questions you’ve had and see if they can slot into your story. Maybe your protagonist or even your antagonist can start asking some of the existential questions another character in your journal was asking.

3. Get out and do something new

If the above ideas aren’t working for you or you don’t have a writing journal (in which case this is something you should seriously consider starting in the future!) then try getting out and about.

If you’re stuck for ideas it’s because your brain is in need of some inspiration and that stuff comes from exposing yourself to something new. Go out and try an activity you haven’t tried before, see a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, visit an art gallery or other cultural event, or research something that interests you.

Alternatively you can try reading the news or people-watching. These are great ways to observe how people interact and what motivates certain actions. How would your characters react in the same situation? How would they react to the headlines you’re reading?

Disclaimer right here and now: exposing yourself to something new does NOT include TV, movies, novels, and general internet searching. Not only are these distractions but they are also unlikely to help you generate new ideas.

So, it’s time to get back to your novel! Give these three activities a go and get that story flowing again. We believe in you! 

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