Jan 18, 2010

First Drafts: Write Drunk! by Lisa Lipkind Leibow

Write Drunk!

In November 2005, I learned to write drunk during my first year as a National Novel Writing Month participant. Don’t get the wrong idea. This doesn’t mean I downed martinis the entire month, winding up sloshed. It means NaNoWriMo 2005 was the first time I attempted to push through, to get my story out of my head and onto the page without worrying about revising until later. Coming from a writer who normally agonized over every word, and wasted months re-writing the same scene before moving on, I found the process of letting go completely liberating.

I spent the whole month, learning about my characters, interviewing them about their deepest, darkest secrets, testing them with great challenges, and probing their psyches to explore what makes them tick. After NaNoWriMo ‘05 was over, I had the seeds of my first novel.

After the month of writing drunk, I sobered up for the big revision. I admit, I reverted to my old ways of agonizing over every word, the structure, and plot holes. I tweaked, enhanced characterizations, rearrange chapters, scenes, paragraphs, wove in subplots, and more.

All of the hard work has paid off. Double Out and Back a novel that grew from my very first NaNoWrimo draft is available NOW from Red Rose Publishing and other leading e-book outlets, including All Romance eBooks, Mobipocket, and Amazon Kindle.

Double Out and Back takes the reader on the roller-coaster ride of infertility treatments as seen through the eyes of three women. I’m perpetually almost-finished revising-sober my second year’s NaNoWriMo work, awaiting feedback from critique partners on two other National Novel Writing month winning manuscripts, and I just finished another first draft by writing drunk, again in November 2009.

You should try it! It works!


After being stuck at her office on 9/11, a month-long siege on metro Washington, DC by a sniper, and discovering that the other parents at her twins’ preschool thought her au pair was her sons’ mom, Lisa could hear these words echoing in her ears. “If I knew this was what it was going to be like to have it all, I would have settled for less.” (Lily Tomlin: The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe)

Lisa didn’t really settle for less. She settled for different, and traded the billable hour lifestyle for fiction writing. Making up stories is much more fun than negotiating contracts, attending hearings, and deciphering statutes and regulations for clients. More than that, it has given her an excuse to pretend to be anyone from airplane pilot to zookeeper!

Lisa’s work can be seen in the Pisgah Review. Her debut novel is scheduled to release in 2009 by Red Rose Publishing (mainstream fiction).

Lisa lives and writes in Northern Virginia with her husband, three children, a couch potato of a dog, and two red-eared slider turtles.

You can visit Lisa Lipkind Leibow at www.LLLeibow.com and www.LisaLeibow.blogspot.com


  1. Congrats on finding a way to break up the agonizing aspect of writing, Lisa. May you "drink" your way to many more novels!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Pat! I hope we can toast to bestsellers together!