Where Ideas Come From

I have less than 4000 words left to write on the 50000 necessary to finish NaNo. I can’t believe it. I’ve been effortlessly writing 10 pages a day for a week now and today I didn’t want to stop there. I finally ran out of story road at 16 pages, and really, I know where things are going from here and I could have went on, but I have a wedding to attend today and I need to get ready for that. Also my house is in a complete uproar because I’m making the Christmas transition this weekend.

So stopping now for the day. But here are some of the things that helped me get this sucker written: I am a fool for the holidays, so I set the story in Fall-Winter. This way I was able to write Thanksgiving and Christmas themed chapters. I also stuck to towns I know and wish I could live in but since I can’t I let my characters live there.

For conflict, I made up the big stuff but all the internal conflict comes from stuff I’ve gone through myself. I dug deep into my troubled past and came up with some really good internal angst and confusion. One of the nice things about being 50 is you have lots of experience to draw from and you’re distant enough from it to look at it in a new way that isn’t as painful or fresh but still retain the ability to remember the pain and write about it as if it’s fresh.

The other big thing is I have three main characters telling the story and it was easy for me to do the subplots this way. I’ve been flipping effortlessly between them, too. I thought I’d have to do one story, then the next, then the last one, and then cut them together, but it’s like my mind knows when each character’s turn is up. I’m not sure 4000 words is enough to tie everything together, but that’s fine because to sell this story it needs to be longer.

The final thing is that stories build on themselves. I just show up and the next bit is there. And things come together marvelously with the Don’t Look Down approach. Don’t censor or edit myself. Have fun. Don’t revise. Don’t worry. Just write whatever I want to write about and the story will shape itself. This is where NaNo comes in. The only way a story will build itself for me is if I work on it every day and most days get about 10 pages. I would not have known that had I not tried NaNo.


  1. Cindy, you RAWK!! Really, truly, Way To Go!!!

    My NaNoing fell apart under the stress of company, golden heart, and holidaze. But I got a little taste of what you’re talking about here, and as you said, I never would have known it was possible if I hadn’t tried it.

    ONE of these years, I will make the 50,000!!! In the meantime I am THRILLED to be watching you do it. 🙂


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