NaNo What Now?

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Tips for keeping a new idea fresh when you’re stuck working on something else

by Oct 24, 2014Clone Rocker, Evergreen, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), On Writing: Craft and Commiseration0 comments

I’m so excited. I can’t wait to start my NaNoWriMo novel. I want to be writing it RIGHT NOW!

Edison-Style Bulb

Shiny New Idea

Usually, when people complain about having to wait to start their NaNoWriMo novels, I point them to this post and all the reasons I recommend just going ahead and starting it early (which is allowed!).

But this year, that’s me! I’m buried so deep in book launch stuff for Sell Their Stuff and The Love of Three Oranges (one-act version) so, though I’m chomping at the bit to work on my new novel idea, I just won’t be able to touch it until November. It’s driving me nuts! I’ve got the ideas NOW, darn it, just not the time to implement them.

But I’ve come up with a few strategies for keeping your shiny new idea alive and ready even when it’ll be a few weeks before you’re able to work on it.

  • Jot down notes, no matter how random the idea or tiny the detail. My desk is covered with little bits of scrap paper with notes on them, just little things about the story or questions that struck me that I don’t want to forget. Because forget you will, no matter how big or important the concept seems when it first strikes you and you’ll be tremendously grateful for those notes when you sit down to write. Even better, when you’re doing the actual writing, keep those random ideas in a hat and pull one out whenever you get stuck for inspiration.
  • Do something, however small, for the project each day. Jot down a note (see previous). Set a timer and write a 5 minute POV bit from one of the characters. Pin an image or two on Pinterest that gets you in the writing mindset or look up a detail you know you may need later. While none of this is as good as actually being able to sit down and write, they’re all simple ways to keep your brain working on the idea without it going stale before you get to sit down and work on it in earnest. Even a minute a day is enough to keep the creative juices flowing on a new idea.
  • Digest similar content to keep yourself in the right mindset. Now, workaholic me says that if you’ve got time to watch movies, play video games or read books, you’ve got time to write but I know not everyone lives that way. When you do opt for some leisure time, choose entertainment that keeps you in the right head-space for your upcoming project. A little I Am Legend might be just the thing to keep you in the mood for your dystopia while a night of Rom Coms will keep you excited about your romance novel. Something in a similar voice, genre or medium can be great for keeping a new idea percolating.
  • Outline. Yes, pantsers, even you can do an outline or at least write a list of a few scenes that might appear in your book. You can just opt to completely throw it out once you actually get to writing but it will help stall your brain without losing the idea and, if you get stuck once you’re actually writing, you’ll have something to refer back to to get you going again.

What about you? How do you keep the next idea fresh while you’re still finishing up the previous project?

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About the Author

Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.

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