Years ago I started to write a novel based on an idea I had the week before NaNoWriMo started.
By the time I was at 20.000-ish words I knew one thing for certain: I just couldn’t continue. It had nothing to do with being stuck, it had everything to do with this: the idea was too flimsy.
I took a day to mind-map and write down ideas, but I still struggled to come up with ways to continue. I wanted to write, I desperately wanted to keep writing but I just had no clue as to how to proceed in the story.
I tried to find new angles, write scenes from another character’s perspective, until I just couldn’t do it anymore.
The novel was dead and I had a pile of words to write to win NaNoWriMo.
So here’s what I did:
- I wrote short stories. Writing short stories comes naturally to me anyway, so that meant that I could easily write one short story a day and still get to 50.000 words for the month.
- After a few days of short stories, I started over. I changed the main character, changed something in the story and wrote for a couple of days. In the end the change didn’t help either, and in the end I just abandoned my project. I loved my idea, but I had to admit it was good for a short story at the most.
- I wrote my daily blog posts and a daily poem.
I won NaNoWriMo that year with, if I remember correctly, 52000 words. Most of those words were garbage, but it helped me to get to know a couple of characters I later reused in a short story.
And now, with some distance, I think I can write that original idea and turn it into the short story it was always meant to be, just in case this year's story gives me issues.