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Gayle Brandeis: A NaNoWriMo Success Story

Gayle Brandeis' novel Self Storage was originally written in a single month when she participated in the National Novel Writing Month in November 2003. She is also the author of The Book of Dead Birds: A Novel and has written for The Nation, The Mississippi Review, and salon.com.

How She Writes : "I am not a very regimented writer -- I tend to write in big sloppy bursts, with quiet moments in between (I use those quiet moments to read, to take the world in, to fill the well so the writing will bubble back up again.) It's an ebb and flow for me, like breath. I found it interesting to work with a daily word count during National Novel Writing Month -- it was so unlike my usual loosey-goosey process, and it led to some fun, surprising work. It also taught me that I can be a disciplined writer if I need to be; now when I have a deadline, I give myself a daily word count to keep the words moving forward."

Writer's Block Remedies: "I don't fight it. I give in to it and trust that the words will surface again when they need to. If the silence starts to last a bit too long, though, or if I'm starting to feel anxious about not writing, I have a few tricks to get the juices flowing again.

One thing I like to do is crack open the dictionary, find a word I hadn't heard of before and write a poem around it. Sometimes the poems are silly, sometimes they're painful, but they always get me excited about writing again. I'm also partial to choosing an object -- preferably edible, ideally a strawberry -- and taking time to explore it slowly, mindfully, using all of my senses.

This always calms me down, wakes me up, and blasts my writing right back open."

A Favorite Sentence: "It's hard for me to see any of my own work as great. Since we're focusing on National Novel Writing Month, though, I'll choose something from Self Storage, which started out as a November novel: 'Leaves of Grass saved my ass.' I laughed out loud when I wrote that sentence, and that doesn't happen very often when I write."

Tomorrow's Novel Idea: Ken Kalfus

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Melody Joy Kramer
Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.