Why to NaNoWriMo, and Why Personal Experience Is the Best Fuel for a Novel
by Jess Lourey
(excerpt adapted from Rewrite Your Life, available now for preorder)
I know you either are playing with the idea of writing a novel, or you’ve already written one and want to take your fiction writing to the next level, or you wouldn’t be thinking about NaNoWriMo. You’re in good company. According to a study conducted by the Jenkins Group, 81 percent of Americans believe they have a book in them, and 27 percent of those want that book to be fiction. That’s over 70 million people who want to write a great book but aren’t sure how. I believe that writing from experience, especially when writing fiction, is the best route. I believe in it so much that I wrote a book on it. Rewrite Your Life walks you through the process of transforming what you know—your life experiences—into a powerful novel and subsequently transforming yourself.
Turning our facts into fiction and finding personal healing as a result is available to all of us. Think of your most challenging life experience. Create a fictional character and drop them into that experience. Start following them around, writing down what they do, how they react, and how it changes them, to the tune of 1667 words a day for 30 straight days.
At the end of this process, you will have a full-length novel.
It will need some serious editing, for sure. It might not even have what it takes to be publishable. The level of healing you’ll have experienced, though? The personal transformation you’ll have undergone? Priceless, and something no one can take away from you.
I do have a request, though. If you embark on NaNoWriMo with the goal of transforming your facts into fiction, please don’t equate the process of turning your life challenges into a novel with trying out for the Trauma Olympics. You don’t win the gold the more pain you’ve experienced, though I think we all sometimes secretly believe that.
Pain is pain. Bad is bad, good is better.
Seriously, sometimes I’m sad or angry for no discernible reason. It counts.
If you still believe you need a pass to enter the writing club, I offer you this: transgenerational epigenetics is strongly suggesting that a sense of trauma can be passed down to you from your ancestors up to four generations back. That means if great-grandma Esther had a rough time of it, you can feel emotionally sapped even if your life is relatively good.
Besides, we all have different definitions of a “challenging experience.” The point is to learn how to recycle your facts into fiction so you can experience the personal transformation that comes with rewriting your life. The novel you will write will function as both your lighthouse and the Viking funeral boat upon which you get to burn your garbage once and for all.
You don’t need to be a gifted writer to rewrite your life. If you have something to write with or on, you’re golden. I guarantee you’re going to surprise yourself with what you create, on paper, inside yourself, and in the world.
So come on. Pack what you need. We’re in this together.
Sign up for NaNoWriMo here.
Mysterious News's NaNoWriMo daily inspirations.
Jess Lourey's "Rewrite Your Life" TEDx Talk.
According to common wisdom, we all have a book inside of us. But how do we select and then write our most significant story―the one that helps us to evolve and invites pure creativity into our lives, the one that people line up to read? In Rewrite Your Life, creative writing professor, sociologist, and popular fiction author Jess Lourey guides you through the redemptive process of writing a healing novel that recycles and transforms your most precious resources―your own emotions and experiences.
This fact-to-fiction process provides not only the essential building blocks of best-selling novels, but is also personally transformative. Based on the process the author developed and field-tested in the wake of her husband's suicide, Rewrite Your Life is devoted to the practice of discovering, healing, and evolving through fiction writing. It combines research, practical and engaging guidance, and personal experience to meet readers where they are and take their creativity and personal growth to the next level.
Tender, raw, and laugh-out-loud funny, Rewrite Your Life offers both a map and a compass for those seeking to harvest their life experiences to heal, lead a more authentic life, and craft a rich, powerful work of fiction.
(5.0 out of 5 stars)
This thriller will blow your socks off.
By Jeanette Hubbard
Forget cute. This thriller will blow your socks off. It is an exciting fast-paced thriller that has an intriguing plot and well drawn our characters. The main villain is spooky and terrifying and will give you nightmares. With her main character, Salem, Jess Lourey has created an intelligent, slightly flawed heroine that will compel you to keep reading past your bedtime. And when you're done, you want more. This is the beginning of a series and it exceeds anything Lourey has written before.
I won this book in a giveaway during her double-booked blog tour with Shannon Baker. Lucky, lucky me.
Newsie Pam Stack talks with Jess Lourey and newsie Shannon Baker.
If you buy Salem's Cipher at Amazon, some loose falls into Mysterious News's pocket. Kind of like looking under a sofa cushion.
Jess Lourey (rhymes with "dowry") is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing "a splendid mix of humor and suspense." Jess also writes sword and sorcery fantasy, edge-of-your-seat YA adventure, and magical realism, literary fiction, and thrillers.
She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft's 2014 Excellence in Teaching fellowship, and a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker.
When not teaching, reading, traveling, writing, or hanging out with her family, you can find her dreaming of her next story.
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