How NaNoWriMo Taught Me To Write A Novel Fifteen Minutes At A Time, Guest Post by Laurie Brantley

Tuesday, November 09, 2010
How NaNoWriMo Taught Me To Write A Novel Fifteen Minutes At A Time

by Laurie Brantley

I've been writing since my childhood. As I entered my empty nest years, I realized that life now affords me the opportunity to write as much as I want.

Frustrated with my writing skills, I decided that this year I would participate in NaNoWriMo. Not really knowing exactly what to expect or how to prepare, with anticipation I created a few character sketches and made an outline, realizing that this must be too easy. I just knew there had to be more preparation, but I wasn't sure just what.

I've never enjoyed writing fiction, which is a requirement of the NaNoWriMo event. The reason I decided to try it was more for the exercise of fiction writing. So, I wasn't very concerned about my preparation, or should I say, my lack of preparation – a recent discovery. I thought I'd try it, see what it's like, and if I enjoyed it. If it turned out to be a purely dreadful event, I could always quit. Nothing would be lost.

With excitement and anticipation, November first, I turned on the computer, pulled up my outline, opened a blank page and began to write. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I realized that I was having fun – and I was writing fiction! I kept writing and realized I'd been writing without reference to my outline. So, I stopped for a minute, checked the outline and saw I was way off base. Now, what? My story had changed and I couldn't think of how to get myself on track. Finally, after several chapters and several thousand words, I got myself back to where I needed to be.

Although I'm having a great time of writing and inventing characters and places and events and being in control of a whole other world, I have some physical battles that limit my writing. I'm unable to sit for long periods of time and I have this little pinched nerve in the back of my neck that likes to keep me from sitting at a keyboard for too long. If I'm there too long, my shoulders cry in pain for me to give up, my arms and fingers rebel in numbness.

I am, however, determined to write a full fiction novel this November and win NaNoWriMo. I set a timer for fifteen minutes and write. When it goes off, I do some stretches and take a writing break by getting some chores done. After doing this about three or four times a day, I meet my daily NaNoWriMo goals.

And I'm learning so much. So far, I've learned I could've used a more detailed outline, that if I get off track, I can always get back on it again, that writing fiction really can be fun and that I can write a novel fifteen minutes at a time.

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Laurie Pitts Brantley has two grown daughters and four grandchildren. She and her husband live on the east coast where they enjoy walks along the various beaches. Laurie discovered her love for writing at the age of ten. You can follow her fiction blog at or her non-fiction blog at .


Unknown said...

This is one of the best posts I have read about this November challenge.

Best with your 15-minute writing sessions!


Carmen @ Life Lines said...

I just finished my 3rd NaNo year. Each time I passed the 50,000 word goal. The first year I participated at the urging of one of my students. I mainly did so to try to silence that nagging internal editor of mine. I put her behind a locked door and no matter how hard she knocked I ignored her...and just like you, once I started writing, the words flowed and I loved it! I was amazed that I actually met the goal.

This year my bigger goal is to finish the novel well beyond the 50,000 words and engage in the process of editing, rewriting, polishing...and publishing.

I like your blogs.

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