Don’t Know What to Write for NaNo? Don’t Worry!

NaNoWriMo is only a few days away. Are you excited? Are you ready? I wasn’t until this past Saturday. I was having a really hard time thinking of an idea to work on this November. More specifically, I had 1,000 different ideas, and I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write. Are you having that problem, too?

It’s okay if you are. You still have several days before you have to know what you’re doing. Just in case you’re still trying to find an idea, I thought I’d share some quick tips.

1. Brainstorming
If you’re anything like me, you probably have tons of ideas floating around in your head, and you aren’t really sure which ones are viable. By brainstorming, you give yourself the freedom to explore all kinds of ideas and see which ones might work the best. You can do this by making a list of ideas, mind-mapping, drawing pictures, or tons of other techniques. The point is that you explore any idea that comes to mind without judging it. NaNo is all about ignoring that critic in your brain, so practice by letting yourself go wild with ideas.

2. Talking
Talking about your ideas can be really liberating. This is especially true, when you’re sharing your thoughts with another writer. He or she can help you work through your mental blocks to get to the idea you really love.

If you don’t want to talk about your ideas, you can also talk to a friend about important events in his or her life, powerful emotions, or even just vague concepts. Your friend doesn’t even need to know that you’re trying to decide what to write. Just having a conversation and thinking about it like a writer can help you generate new themes to explore.

3. Using Other Media
If you need help coming up with an idea to write, try letting other types of art influence you. Maybe a painting at a local museum will give you an idea. Maybe music will help you set the tone of your novel. A movie might give you a concept you can spin another direction.

Sometimes when I’m stuck, I like to create boards on Pinterest that capture the tone or feeling of the work I want to create. Other times I use it to pin images that match my vision of a character’s look or actions. There are all kinds of great inspiring images online, so use the internet to help you, just don’t get too distracted. Another cool and relatively new feature on Pinterest is the ability to create private boards, so if you aren’t ready for the world to see your idea, you can keep it private.

This list is obviously not exhaustive, but hopefully it will give you some ideas in time for NaNoWriMo. If you need other resources, feel free to reach out to other writers in the NaNoWriMo forums, or send me a message.

I’d love to learn about the ways you like to find inspiration. Share your ideas in the comments.

Tomorrow is Positive Thinking Day

Improve Your Writing

Writers can be a particularly negative bunch. My draft sucks. I was rejected again. My editor wants me to change too much. No one wants to read my book. My beta readers didn’t understand my plot.

There are so many negative experiences in writing, especially when you factor in criticism and critiques, but letting those negative thoughts take over your writing holds you back. When you think negatively, you expect failure, which teaches you fear.

Fear is often the number one reason writers struggle to create. Fear holds you back from writing something wonderful, or it can keep you from writing altogether. Banish negativity and fear with positive thinking.

Positive thinking is a powerful tool in writing. With so many writing fears, it can be a huge factor in your success. In honor of positive thinking day, we need to practice thinking positively and see how it affects your work. We’re going to work on pushing through all those negative thoughts because what you’re doing is worth it.

Understand Your Fears

Before you can tackle your fears, you need to understand where they are coming from. What are the negative thoughts about your writing that keep coming back to you? When do you have most of your negative thoughts? Is it when you’re writing or before you start? What do the negative thoughts focus on? Is it your abilities? Is it your chances of publication?

Once you understand the nature of your thoughts, you can focus on eliminating their impact on your work. For positive thinking day, I want you to take the fears you’ve identified and do three specific exercises that will help you work though your fears.

Here’s your homework:

1. Every time you have a negative thought, doubt, or fear about your writing tomorrow, think of two positive thoughts about your work. Maybe your dialogue is a little rough, but I’m sure you have an awesome concept and a great protagonist that make you want to keep working.

2. Think of three key reasons why you want to write. Write them down on a piece of paper and hang it above your writing space. If you’d prefer, you can also type it and make it your desktop on your computer.

3. Think of three reasons why the manuscript you’re working on is worth finishing. If nothing else, think about the practice you’ll get from completing it. Make a plan to help yourself combat the negative thinking as you work on your draft. Write down at least two things you can do to make finishing easier on yourself. It may be ignoring your own criticisms while you finish your first draft, or maybe it’s talking to a supportive friend. You might work on a skill or anything else you think will help you. Once you have your plan, try to put it into action for long-term success.

Let’s talk about your homework in the comments. I want to hear about you positive thoughts, your reasons for writing, and how you intend to finish your manuscript.