“It’s NaNoWriMo next month!” I said elated, my feet tap dance under the table and my hands drum against the chair’s arms.
“I know,” Zena, the fearless leader to our writer’s group, replied. She’s equally excited, her eyebrows high, banana smiling lips. “Are you going to do it?”
She scoffed. “I wish.”
And I know she’s busy. She’s a teacher. I totally get it because I’m too busy too with the freelance gigs, anniversary preparations, writings, my actual job, etc.
I’m crunching the numbers in my head of the time that I’ll spend writing 50,000 words and, theoretically, complete a 1st draft resembling a novel. Once you’ve done this, you think frantically of all the things you’ll have to ignore or possibly give up to reach this writing goal. This is true—to some extent.
NaNoWriMo encourages we devote all our waking hours to meeting our writing goals, but I have learned from my previous NaNoWriMo runs that giving up everything really is a means to an end. I don’t want only to reach the end though. If you simply want to participate and write nonstop, then go for it. I’ll be doing the same and more. Here’s what I’ve learned from my last previous years and what I’ll probably keep doing so I won’t go completely crazy.
I have no social life!
Infrequently do I have social outings, mostly because I’m busy or that I really like my alone time. NaNoWriMo gives me an excuse to politely decline your invitation, which will accidentally sound like a snub. I’ll be slaving away at a new novel and losing my mind in the process. I’ll feel good for about five minutes. Then I’ll be filled with regret and wish I could just go out into the sun and enjoy something gloriously tanked with empty calories topped with whip cream. One hour of social time won’t kill you. If you’re a weekend partier, I have no sound advice, except good luck!
I have no time to read!
Are you crazy? Of course I’m going to read and you should too. There’s seriously advice out there by NaNoWriMo veterans tutting the advice that people should stop reading so you won’t feel bad about your own writing. Are these people bonkers? For one, those books you’re reading have been extensively edited, combed through meticulously, and read by professionals. Of course published books will be infinitely better than the draft you’re writing. It’s the worst advice I’ve heard. Think of reading as nutrients for your brain. I know when I quit reading for extended periods of time, my writing suffers. Do not skimp on the literature my friends. You’re doing a marathon and have to stay hydrated.
I don’t have time to actually cook and eat too!
There has to be someone out there who’s getting their vitamin C intake purely from Orange Crush and is consuming about 8 packages of Pop Tarts per day. The NaNoWriMo diet comes in many shapes: frozen pizza (rumored to be the all-encompassing food group) to Hot Pockets.
Sadly, I just can’t do this. My body will hate me and get revenge by giving me the crash. This crash is famous in my house. After a mass amount of sugar consumed, my body, as the word suggests, crashes. Keith, my person, will look at me with a withering stare.
He coos, “too much sugar, right?”
I will not admit this at first. I’m resilient. I will just say that I’m distracted, that I’m tired, or that I’m bored. Ten minutes later, my head is in his lap, and I’m groaning like a dying elephant. Slow cookers are beautiful inventions. Thirty minute meals are a runner up. Treat your body with the respect it deserves.
I don’t have time for sex!
Considering I’ll be primarily stationary for the next 30 days, I will regress into a slug. Two slugs going at it. Pretty, right? Yep. I’m totally okay with this too. I will look fetching no matter the extra lumps forming around my waist. I will wear that extra 5-7 extra pounds like a gladiator belt. My person? He certainly won’t be dissecting my BMI or calculating my body fat percentage. You don’t have to stop getting frisky to write a novel. Not to mention, what an awesome way to spend 20 minutes!
I’ve given these things up in my previous tries. What do you know? I ended up depressed, deprived of nutrients, unhappily celibate, and a crabby writer. What possibly made me more miserable is the fact that I didn’t make it to 50,000 words. Hell, I didn’t even make it to 25,000 words, not for a lack of trying mind you.
So here’s what I’m thinking. Instead of cutting absolutely everything that makes us a ¼ of descent human being, I’ll reach the 50,000 word count by giving up some things that distract me, such as trying that new recipe that takes 45 minutes to prepare and 2 hours to cook or that season of Gilmore Girls that will still be waiting for me in December. Crazy, right? I’m not saying this will be easy. It’s definitely going to suck at times.
But I’m willing to try because I sincerely want to finish a novel within a month. I do. I have every intention of surrendering myself to every bit of the creative process, dropping ostensible coherent sentences, mangling metaphors, and devising phrases cluttered with passivity and linking verbs.
I am 100% committed to writing this draft for NaNoWriMo. I just want there to be something left of me that isn’t sickly. After the draft is done, I still have to be willing to edit the thing.
It’s whatever works for you.