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How NaNoWriMo Could Change Your Writing Life: A Success Story

November 23, 2011
 by Lexus LukeWrite 50,000 words in 30 days? Hah! I truly laughed aloud at the idea. I was still laughing when I signed up for the absurd idea.

NaNoWriMo turned out not to be so crazy after all. In fact, it was one of the most brilliant experiences of my writing life. I ended up with 50,000+ words toward the best thing I had ever written—Manitou the Sky Saga People. *See the end of this post for an exclusive freebie for IBC blog readers only.

That first NaNoWriMo was an immersion into a method of writing that was foreign to me. Write a little. Edit a little. Write a little more. Edit a little more. Magazine articles, TV scripts, short stories, screenplays, even speeches for the mayor—write-a-little-edit-a-little was my writing method … until NaNoWriMo in November 2010.

That technique wouldn’t work for NaNoWriMo—not if I wanted to reach the 1,677 word count each day. I didn’t dare take time to edit. Write and keep writing was the name of the game.

I am was also a linear writer. If I was stuck on a scene, I’d stop until I had the issue resolved. NaNoWriMo didn’t allow time for that either. I pasted an MS Word virtual sticky note at any spot that needed smoothing out on the next draft and then kept moving. Those sticky notes allowed my brain to set the issue aside. Try it if you are stuck.

Now, my old method of write-a-little-edit-a-little isn’t wrong. After all, it led to a screenplay that won $5,000. And my day job employers were always happy with my productivity. However, I found that the result of write-write-write, don’t-stop-until-the-story-is-down to be a better story. The words, characters and plot points poured out. I just let my muse—her name is Ruby—jam, taking the story where she wanted it to go. When the 30 days were over, I had the sparkly bones of my novel.

NaNoWriMo was exhilarating, and exhausting. I put the novel aside for a couple of months to enjoy the holidays with my family and finish a screenplay. When I picked the work up again in February and felt even more excited about the story, I knew I had something pretty fantastic. Not only that, but Ruby roughly plotted three more books in The Sky People Saga (TSPS). NaNoWriMo let her loose. I’m not a scientist, but I’d bet that writing fast shuts down the nitpicky side of my brain, allowing the creative side more freedom. I gave my muse an inch, and she is still dragging me along on her journey.

I loved the results of NaNoWriMo so much that I did the new CampNaNoWriMo in August. That resulted in the bones of Theoi, book two of TSPS. It will be released around the end of December 2011. Absolutely, I’ll be writing-writing-writing book three of the TSPS during NaNoWriMo 2011.

*Exclusive to IBC blog readers, read the novel Lexus wrote during NaNoWriMo 2010 for FREE. Tweet this: @LexusLuke I want to read #ManitouTSPS #YAFantasy . Then, fill out IBC Manitou TSPS Giveaway with your Twitter handle and email address (will not be shared with anyone) so Lexus can send you a FREE ecopy. This giveaway expires November 30, 2011.

Manitou The Sky People Saga is available for Kindle and Nook. Find Lexus on Twitter, Facebook and her website.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2011 7:04 am

    I’m still in the write a little, edit a little camp, but I need to give myself a chance to spew a story sometime. I might be surprised.

  2. November 23, 2011 9:03 am

    Personally, I’m a huge fan of Nanowrimo for many of the same reasons. I’ve been Nanoing since 2001.

    I find that it forces me to just write through a hard part, whereas normally, I’d let it sit and simmer. There’s plenty of time to sit and simmer AFTER November. But I’m often amazed how things turn out when I just force myself to plow through. Characters take on a life of their own if you just let them go wild. Nanowrimo is just the thing for “going wild.” I recommend it to all my writing friends.

  3. November 23, 2011 10:42 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am was a NaNoWriMo “winner’ (got my 50K words) in 2009. Picture a retired professor who for 30 years taught long-range planning– the kind that got the Polaris submarine under the ice cap and back with all the supplies it needed for every eventuality– showing up for her 1st NaNoWriMo meeting on October 30 with NO plan, not even an idea, just to find out what NaNoWriMo was. I got a title at that meeting and had an amazing 30-day ride as characters jumped in, took over every morning and guided the story. Scary business, but fun. Someday, I’ll go back and have a look at it.

  4. November 24, 2011 1:06 am

    I use markers in my text. [XXX this is crap] [XXX drop the whole last paragraph] [XXX later the marker is a pencil] [XXX to: I use easy to search for plain text markers in my drafts that work with any application.]

    It may not be a virtual sticky note, but it works without breaking my stream of typing. No key combos, no mouse clicks, just a constant stream of typing — it also means my inline notes still count toward my word count. More importantly it works with the tools I use. (Gmail drafts on my phone and Scrivener on my laptop.)

    Totally the same concept, just a different way to do it.

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