A friend of mine is encouraging me to join him in the online writing quest, National Novel Writing Month. Otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, it’s a worldwide community of writers who support one another to each write a 50,000 word novel in one month. The idea is that participants get, at least, a skeleton plot and character plan together ready for the first writing day of the month.
It’s a feat that seems unachievable to me – but I’m assured it’s possible, and fun!
My friend is already well ahead with his planning. While there is a huge amount of creative freedom in terms of topic and genre, I’m in panic mode trying to think of an idea. One of my challenges with writing is coming up with the original idea. I’m not one to go looking for inspiration, I kind of hope it just happens by chance – which is probably not the most effective option, but I’m still learning my craft.
During our conversation about inspiration sources, my friend ended up suggesting ‘what if’ as a starting point. “If you consider a possibility that doesn’t already exist”, he said, “it can become anything.” I usually enjoy writing based on truth or realism rather than impossibilities and fantasies. However, in the interests of creative exploration, I pose the following ‘what ifs’ based on my truth.
What if . . . Paris was my dream and not New York City?
What if . . . I didn’t have red hair?
What if . . . we stayed in Wollongong?
What if . . . I finished school at 18 years old and not 16?
What if . . . I never worked at Pizza Hut?
What if . . . I did journalism and not events management as my undergrad?
What if . . . I didn’t move to Melbourne two and half years ago?
What if . . . I didn’t accept my current job after months of being unemployed?
What if . . . he didn’t lie and he was what I wanted him to be?
What if . . . I was more extroverted than introverted?
What if . . . I said no?
What if . . . I said yes?
My ‘what ifs’ listed here make up a small sample. There might even be a story idea in there. They aren’t meant to be negative or deeply self-analytical or regretful in any way, nor disrespectful to anyone else’s ‘what ifs’. But they’re mine. I do wonder. But I look forward to the future – and coming up with an idea for NaNoWriMo!