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NaNoWriMo—What If You Get Stuck/Blocked?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

According to the NaNo word-count matrix, yesterday, you should have hit right around 10,000 words on your Story-in-Progress (SIP). That’s a good chunk of writing—20% of your manuscript if you’re aiming for a finished length of 50k words.

But what if you didn’t hit 10k yesterday? What if you did gangbusters the first day or two and you’re sitting at about 3,300 words? What if you’ve lost interest in your story or characters? What if your motivation just disappeared?

Here are a few prompts that will get you writing again (even if the word count may not end up in your final manuscript) but also keep you focused on your manuscript.

  • Write a “travel magazine” style article about your main setting. Or an Archetectural Digest piece on your main character’s home. Don’t forget the paragraph and paragraph of minute description of everything you “see”—from the big landmarks to the knickknacks on the bookshelf. Then, once you finish writing this ask yourself what you’ve learned about your story, setting, and characters. How can you incorporate that into your story?
  • Write your main character having an argument with someone only she can see . . . in public. How will she act? Will she care that others are looking at her like she’s crazy? Does she think she’s crazy? Who is the invisible person she’s arguing with? What do you learn about her during this process?
  •  Wil and Anne Wheaton meet Nathan Fillion at Comic Con :-) | Source

    Wil and Anne Wheaton meet Nathan Fillion at Comic Con 😉 | Source

  • Have one of your main characters meet a real-life celebrity. Peyton Manning, Emma Watson, Karl Urban (oh, Karl…)—choose someone you’d love to meet in real life and have your character meet him/her. What would your main character say if he or she were to meet Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus? What can you learn about your character through his/her reaction to meeting a celebrity? Also, what does that say about the culture of the setting in which your character meets this person? (Meeting a celebrity has a whole different feel in Los Angeles or New York than it does in Nashville than it does in Bunkie, Louisiana.) And if you’re writing a historical, choose an important historical figure from that era (for example if Kate or Caddy had met Queen Victoria at the Great Exhibition).
  • Take your character to the grocery store. Make a shopping list and then show the character putting each item on the list into the basket. Does your character stick to the list or does he go up and down every aisle and make impulse purchases? Whom might he run into at the store? What if it’s his worst enemy? How would he handle it?
  • .

  • Have your character walking through a crowded public place (mall, airport, train station, etc.) with a life-size cardboard cutout of a celebrity/movie character. Who’s the character/celebrity? Why does your character have it? Why is he/she carrying it through a busy public place? What conversations does it strike up with people?



What are some other “outside the story box” ideas you can think of for scenes you can put your characters in that might help you get started writing? Have you ever done something like this before?

  1. Carol Moncado permalink
    Thursday, November 7, 2013 10:08 am


    You’re trying desperately to get another manuscript out and are putting all of your efforts into [trying not to avoid/procrastinate on] that.


    BUT I have added words to NaNo every day and am close to 4K. Once I get this other sucker done, hopefully it’ll go gangbusters.

    Or I may come back here in a week…



  2. Thursday, November 7, 2013 10:20 am

    I am behind schedule. I am MAD that I am behind schedule because in my circumstances I was metaphorically tied down out of reach of my computer. I am determined to catch up. I CAN DO THIS. I may complete this the way I had anticipated, but I can move forward.


  3. Thursday, November 7, 2013 3:35 pm

    Reblogged this on The BiaLog.


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