Saturday, December 24, 2011

Nanowrimo and Christmas

Yesterday, I was stomping through the store, searching for something--anything--that would bring a sparkle of delight to my youngest son's eyes on Christmas morning. Everything I'd already bought seemed awful, everyone was going to hate it all, and I just knew I was going to forget how I wanted my novel to end before I got a chance to finish it. I wanted to go home and knock the stupid Christmas tree on the floor.
Christmas can be stressful, but add in packing for a move to a new city and a Nanowrimo novel that just won't end, and you can imagine my stress level. Even without the move though, Nanowrimo and Christmas butt up against each other in stressful ways every year. I would never give up either one, but I know I should do some things differently. Perhaps it's an odd thing to post about on Christmas Eve, but while it's fresh in my mind, here's a letter for me to open again in 10 months.

I hope you find something useful in it, even if you aren't a Nanowrimo fan. Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2011
Dear Melanie, 

When you open this, it will be October 31, 2012. Halloween. A little early to be thinking about Christmas, I suppose, but if I know you, and I know I do, you're starting to think about it--maybe even to dread it a little. You know what's coming--the exhaustion, the aches and pains, even the's all part of the Nanowrimo/Christmas deluxe package, right? 

I don't think so. This year can be different. You can give yourself something special for Christmas this year, but you need to start TODAY. Are you with me? Here's the plan. 

October 31, 2012: This is the make it or break it day, right here. Somehow you always manage to push it out of your mind, but you have a serious sugar addiction, and if you aren't tough today, you'll spend the rest of the year with your blood sugar soaring like a kite. So, as a gift to yourself for Christmas this year, make Halloween a sugar free day. DO NOT buy candy until moments before the Trick or Treaters arrive, and let someone else pass it out. Or give out pencils. 

November 1, 2012: Nanowrimo, Day 1!!!! I smile just to think about it. You've been training for this for months, and I know you've got a lot to say. Give yourself an early Christmas present: DO NOT buy candy when it's marked down 75% and tell yourself you'll save it for Christmas. You won't. Besides, if you're not in the store, you'll have more time to write.  

Throughout the month of November: 
Exercise. I'm serious. I know what you've got to give up in order to find time to write a novel in November. Trust me. I've been there, done that. But exercise. In the morning. It doesn't have to be a ton. In fact, I'd say that 10 minutes 6 days a week ought to cover it. 3 days of strength training, 3 days of running a mile or doing Zumba or jumping rope. Just break a sweat. You try for any more than this, and you'll probably decide to skip it altogether. 

When you're in a writer's haze, you won't even notice whether it's carrots you're chomping on or Laffy Taffy. For some reason you never remember this until the last week of November. Instead of stocking up on bargain priced candy, stock up on healthy foods. Whatever's easy to grab--that's what you'll eat. 

And a month of eating green salad with chicken and walnuts for lunch never hurt anyone. If you get sick of it, Italian Peasant Stew is always a pleasant alternative, though I recommend leaving out the Italian Peasants. They are awfully expensive this time of year, and you'll hardly miss them. 

Moderation has never been your strong suit. It may look like one candy bar to you, but it's really two months of swirling in a vortex of bad health choices until you are spit out onto the rocky shores of exhaustion. You're not a spring chicken anymore, you know, and those days of trekking back where you belong are getting tougher. 

November 26, 2012: Cyber Monday. No matter how far behind on your novel you think you are, stop what you're doing and order Christmas presents. You'll be glad you did. Remember how long the World Soccer Shop and Deseret Book take to fill your orders? 

December 1, 2012: Time for another early Christmas present. Finish that book. Even if the last half of the book is encapsulated in two pages, get to the words "The End" and leave it alone. You've got the rest of the winter to edit and tinker and add to your book. That's why you write a novel in November in the first place. But December is for family, and trying to add novel writing into the mix is a well-known recipe for transforming yourself into Scrooge! Everybody needs an occasional vacation from writing, and December is yours. Let the guilt go.  

Merry Christmas, my future self! If all went the way it was supposed to, your back didn't go out on you the day before Thanksgiving, your Christmas preparations didn't exhaust  you, you didn't gain lots of weight between Halloween and now, and you spent more time enjoying the things that really matter.  

January 1, 2013: Go on, open up that novel and start editing. You know you want to. 

With love,  



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  2. Love it!! That was fantastic, Melanie. I have the exact same sugar issue and I've been off the wagon since Halloween.... Oy. And novel writing and December have not mixed well for me this year. Even without doing NaNo (I was too focused on rewrites), I would have been much better off following your advice this year!

    Merry Christmas!!

  3. I've never done NANOWRIMO, but it looks fun and crazy. Maybe next year.

    I do need to write one of these letters to myself. Every year I want to get started on Christmas shopping early, but I procrastinate and end up rushing around last minute. I'd really like to just once be able to relax and enjoy the Christmas season.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. Sarah, Today is my first day since Halloween back on the wagon--well, I'm being pulled alongside it anyway. I'm sorry you've got the same problems, but it's nice to know I'm not alone!

    Nanowrimo is awesome MaryAnn. The way I do it, it's really no different than any other kind of book writing, except that I'm doing it with a huge support group.

  5. Love it!
    Nanowrimo insanity is awesome, as is Christmas insanity. Of course, I can say that now that they're both over for another year!


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