Six Steps to Camp NaNoWriMo: #3 Gathering Inspiration and Story Ideas

Are you excited about Camp NaNoWriMo yet? You should be because it’s coming up fast! And we are getting ready together. Next step in our preparations for Camp NaNoWriMo: inspiration for our story ideas. That means finally figuring out what we want to write about. This is sometimes my favorite part of any NaNoWriMo — whether I am participating in NaNoWriMo proper in November, or either one of the Camp NaNoWriMo sessions.

Need to go back and read the previous steps?

Six Steps to Camp NaNoWriMo: #1 Are you in?

Six Steps to Camp NaNoWriMo: #2 Find a partner and start training

Six Steps to Camp NaNoWriMo: #3 Gathering Inspiration and Story Ideas
Six Steps to Camp NaNoWriMo: #3 Gathering Inspiration and Story Ideas

Where do story ideas come from?

Most of the time when I am talking to friends about an upcoming month of NaNoWriMo, they have too many ideas regarding what they want to write about. Like me, they hoard ideas in notebooks, scrap paper, and files in their computer so they always have a muse to visit when they need one.
Some people wait to see what hits them the day before NaNoWriMo starts. Others just go with whichever muse happens to be screaming the loudest at the time. And yet others just freestyle everything straight through the entire month until an idea strikes them. (Hint, if you happen to be a freestyle writer who prefers going through NaNoWriMo with no plan, stick around. I’ll have some good information you can still use later on).
I usually start by reading through some of my works in progress and seeing if any of them are able to reignite a spark bright enough to carry me through the month. If that doesn’t work, then I get start looking through my old idea notebooks and files. Worst case scenario, I hit Pinterest and start searching for writing prompts. If that doesn’t work, then I’m out of ideas because that has always worked for me.
Inspiration for some stories just hits from different places. You can’t always predict when they are going to hit. Heir of Elendri got started because I was trying to imagine what my life would have been like if I had been a wizard. Xiuhcoatl was born because I was trying to imagine what type of wizard my mother would have been (she and I didn’t exactly have a stellar relationship). Ripper got started because I wondered what would happen if Jack the Ripper was actually a good guy that history twisted into a serial killer.
The idea I am following through with for this session, Kiss of Dust (a working title for now), came about because I was watching a documentary on the Dust Bowl by Ken Burns and I thought what an amazing base for a story. Of course, I know I’m not the first person to think this. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck was an amazing book that followed the Joads from Oklahoma out to California. The Wizard of Oz saw a tornado sweep Dorothy out of the dull, lifeless Dust Bowl and bring her to a magical world filled with color and adventure. And who can forget about Whose Names are Unknown by Sanora Babb, which followed the Dunne’s family struggles as they fought to survive the Dust Bowl. Even the HBO series, Carnivale, was based in the Dust Bowl.
Nope, I am definitely not the first. But I don’t have to be the first. I just need an idea. And for now, this is it.

Gathering Inspiration and Research.

My favorite place to gather research and story inspiration is Pinterest. Have I told you about my love affair with Pinterest? By far, one of my favorite sites ever. For research, for searching, for inspiration, for marketing…it’s just that awesome at everything.
So, earlier today, I hopped over to Pinterest and built my inspiration board for the Dust Bowl. So, for the next eight day (eight days!! single digits!) I will be able to search for and save any information or inspirational goodies I find about the Dust Bowl. Diary entries, newspaper articles, photographs, interviews — you name it. If it has something to do with the Dust Bowl, its new home is right there on that board so I can go back and refer to things when I need them.
Head over to Pinterest and build your own inspiration board for whatever story idea you think you might like to go with for this session. Then create one pin, a board pin. You can use PicMonkey to do this if you need to. Link that pin to your board, then repin it to our Cabin Board so we can all follow along with your inspiration. (Psst, mine is already there).

For Freestyle Writers, build a Freestyle Board Instead.

This step is not completely lost on all my freestyling friends. And I know there are plenty of you out there.
If you are a freestyle writer, then your story ideas and inspiration always seem to come to you when you’re already writing. So putting together an inspiration board might seem like a waste of time, since you won’t have anything to post to it until after you start writing. For you, putting together a freestyle writing board will be the best idea. You can research and save ideas on how to think of what to write next on the fly, how to keep your momentum going even when you have done little or no plotting, and you can even save writing prompts to help spur you along between sprints.
Once you’ve put together your freestyle board, build a board cover that links to your board (just like before, you can use PicMonkey to do this) and share the board cover to our group board on Pinterest.

What if you’re not in the Camp NaNoWriMo Group Board on Pinterest?

Then get there! Joining my group board is really easy. Just head on over to Pinterest, follow me there, and send me a message and I will send you the invitation to join my group board on Pinterest as a collaborator.
Follow along and get prepared with us!
Step Four: Planning Everything.
Step Five: Setting your Goals.
Step Six: Turn off your Inner Editor and Kiss your Friends Goodbye.

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