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There is something very liberating about setting a novel in a place you know very well. Today, I had the luxury of going to my local Safeway and counting the doors in the frozen dinners aisle for the purposes of accuracy in a scene I’m writing. As much as I would love to have an excuse to do book research in Europe or any of the islands of the Caribbean, having a real setting to use as reference that’s just down the street is pretty handy. I can get my details right while picking up a carton of milk and I can even creep out store security at the same time. What more could an aspiring novelist hope for?

Six days into National Novel Writing Month, I should be 10,000 words into my 50,000 word novel. Unfortunately, I’m only a little over 7,000 words in. It isn’t where I should be (about two-ish days behind my word quota), but drastically better than the mere 2,000 words I had squeezed out of my beleaguered brain at this point last year. The fact that I’m only two days behind is cause for celebration. Cue York Peppermint Patty.

The past week has taught me a lot. I have learned what kind of shelving Safeway uses in its frozen food section. I have learned how to completely shut out the world and eliminate distractions while I work (my secret — log out of Facebook). I have also learned how to jump start my creative process even when I’m feeling tired or uninspired. My first strategy has been to imagine that Chuck Norris is looming over me and that if I stop writing, he will roundhouse kick me in the head. Failing that, when I lose focus, I simply go for a drive around town, where my novel is conveniently set, to find new locations and imaginary predicaments for my protagonist. Flagstaff is not only my home, she is also my muse.

My journey to “The End” is underway and I’m excited. With luck — and a wee bit of talented yarn weaving — the pages will continue to fly. Then, the real work can begin. Write on, my friends!

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You can also follow my shenanigans on Twitter, where they call me @jonnyeberle.

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