NaNoWriMo Special: The Shotgun Approach to Writing

WritersdontcryBy which I don’t mean take a shotgun to your computer or anything so dire. I’m talking about doing some rapid-fire brainstorming to quickly move through a lot of different ideas--from a variety of different approaches--until you find one that suits your fancy. Because you need a good idea if you’re going to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and NaNoWriMo is not about taking it slow.Brainstorm

NaNoWriMo is about getting hooked on writing. You kind of have to be if you’re going to hit 50k in just one month! Of course, to get to even 1k, you first need to do one very important thing: start. Starting is for many the hardest part. And the hardest part of starting is coming up with an idea you're crazy enough about to spend all your Friday nights cuddling up to your computer.

So, listed below are five of my favorite ways to get an idea. Try all of them! Who knows? You might just hit on something good. After all, legend has it Erin Morgenstern’s acclaimed The Night Circus started in a story she wrote for NaNoWriMo . . .

1. Picture Yourself Legend Tripping 

There's a reason legends stick around for so long: something about them grips the human imagination. Which means they make damn good stories. You can tackle the big ones--like the fall of the mythical city of Atlantis, or the smaller ones, like the lost colony or Roanoke, in which 128 people disappeared, leaving only the word "Croatoan" carved on a solitary post of the fort. Either way, trying to explain the unexplainable is always a fun way to spend some words. Here are some of my favorites (inspired by Jeff Belanger's excellent Picture Yourself Legend Tripping):

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