Friday, October 19, 2012

The Real Nanowrimo Preparation Starts Now...And I'm Not Talking About Outlining

"Focus is a matter of deciding which things you're not going to do." 
--John Carmack

The first time I did Nanowrimo the only thing I remember giving up is sleep. At 2, 3, even 4 a.m. you could find me at my computer--writing, talking to people about writing, perusing the Nanowrimo forums...It took me well over a  year to recover from that piece of foolishness, but I suppose it was worth it, because by the time I was done, I was a novelist, and there's been no turning back. (I guess you could call it my residencyJ)

Since that first year, I've refused to let the lion's share of my sacrifice be sleep. However, nearly every year, exercise and healthy eating habits have fallen victim to my need to complete Nanowrimo while simultaneously keeping my kids alive. There will be more about that next week, but suffice it to say that I can't do that this year. This year, my health has got to supersede Nanowrimo on my scale of priorities.

Even if you're not doing Nanowrimo, you know that certain pieces of the writing process are labor intensive. What do you give up?

Eating? Of course not! Those creative juices burn tons of calories. We need to eat to keep our strength up! But, with a little preparation, you can give up Cooking!

At least that's one of the things I'm hoping to give up this year. My sister Mindy is a bionic superwoman who is raising a family, working full time and taking a full course load of classes so she can finish her degree THIS semester. The whole thing has been tough, but she knew this semester was going to be heinous, so one afternoon, before the semester started, she and her husband froze 27 meals. (Um...numbers have never been my thing. If she reads this she'll have to let us know how close I came to telling the truth.) She said it was cheaper, easier, more nutritious and yummier than what they ate the semester before.

From Six Sister's Stuff: 8 Slowcooker Meals in One Hour
Here are a couple of the websites she used: kojo-designs and Six Sister's Stuff. (Check them out! We writers are not the only creative people out there. It's amazing.)

Her particular favorite so far has been the Lime Salsa Chicken from kojo-designs.

What other things can you get done before Zero Hour? Here are a few of my thoughts:

I'm a preschool teacher. Obviously I can't get my teaching done ahead of schedule, but there are plenty of planning things I can get out of the way while it's still October. Luckily, my employer is very flexible with paying me for stuff like that.

I doubt my own kids are going to play along with this idea, but it would be great if they would eat hot lunches at school for the month of November. That would save me at least 20 minutes a day, maybe more. If not, they might be forced to make their own. (Oh, the inhumanity!)

Guest bloggers! Not for every week, because I'd like to keep you posted on my progress, but I've got one guest blogger lined up, and I'd like at least one more. I hate to even tell you how many hours that will free up on those weeks. It's almost crazy how long it takes me to pull together a post.

Christmas shopping! October seems like a crazy early time to Christmas shop, but Christmas looks a lot closer from the far side of November.

Speaking of shopping, if your budget permits, you could do one gargantuan grocery shopping trip in October, even if you don't choose to make freezer meals. Then you could return for perishables in an Amazing Race style shopping trip once a week.

Get up to date on doctor's appointments, hair appointments, any other appointments you can squeeze in that you might otherwise be tempted to do in November. I plan to dye my hair on Halloween. (Just brown. I'm boring like that.)

It's a true fact that your hair will be healthier if you only wash it every other day. That'll save a few minutes here and there. A minute saved is a minute earned.

If you get your house sparkling clean on October 31, you can probably get by without cleaning it again for a couple weeks. Right?

Apologize in advance to everyone on facebook. While I'll still be posting about Nanowrimo, I'm not going to get caught up in the vortex that is social media. Really, I'm not. Not this year. No sirree. It would be AWESOME if you could shut off your internet during writing time. Of course, as soon as you do, you'll need to double check whether or not an English bordar could own his own oxen in the year 1086. J Then you'll have to turn the internet back on, which is time consuming. Just leave the internet on, and exercise that willpower, my friends.

I have this semi-funny vision playing through my head of trick-or-treaters ringing my bell on Halloween and my saying, "Come in and grab some candy! My hands are covered in raw chicken," as I hurry to make freezer meals, clean, do laundry...yeah. The last week of October isn't looking like a lot of fun at my house.
What other time savers can you think of?


  1. You are going to be as busy as me! I don't remember the exact amount of dinners we made, but you're pretty close.

    Your bionic superwoman sister (you can call me that from now on)

    1. Can I call you B.S. for short?

      Just kidding! I can't imagine being as busy as you. Thanks for sharing the awesome links. Love you!

  2. Some great tips here. I'm not doing Nanowrmo, but I still need these. I love the freezing dinners idea although I think we'll need to buy a deep freeze to store them all, and thanks for the links.

  3. I love your tips! I made an appointment to get my family in for flu shots when I read this, because a) I don't want to be sick while I'm trying to do NaNo (pleasepleaseplease let me be healthy in November!) and b) I don't want to deal with doctor visits when I should be writing.

    The only thing I can add, and it might be too late to be saying this, is to get into a routine as early as possible. It'll be an easier transition into writing on a strict deadline. I've been doing my best this month to get my kids in bed by 7 so that I have 3 kid-free hours in which to write ever evening. I'm also trying to get my household chores done in the mornings while my son is at school to make sure my evenings are totally free.

  4. Melanie, I have been wanting to try freeze-ahead meals forever and this post inspired me to buy an apocalyptic quantity of chicken. The lady at Costco asked me if I had a second freezer and I said, "no, it won't take that much space," and now the chicken is sitting in my fridge waiting for me to do those Kojo designs recipes tomorrow and I am very, very nervous that it actually WILL take that much space. Also the lady at Costco asked me three times if all that chicken was really for me.

    I'm not even doing NaNo. I just hate cooking dinner.

    These are all great tips. I hope you have a healthy and organized (and creative) November!

  5. You'll have to let us know how it goes, Sarah! I hope none of your chicken gets wasted. How funny that the Costco woman would be so concerned. How much chicken qualifies as an "apocalyptic quantity?

  6. The shopping list said 22 lbs but I think I got between 15 and 20. Don't laugh. Or do, it's okay :D I have sad homemaking skills, and buying more than a week's worth of anything but toilet paper is kind of new for me :) (Well, aside from occasional canned beans, tetra packs of chicken broth, and Coke Zero. I do know how to jump on a sale. And I have enough Q-tips to last a lifetime for some reason.) The reason there's no room in my freezer is because my husband buys endless frozen pizzas, knowing the great likelihood that the dinner hour will take me by surprise on any given day...

    I will keep you posted! The rosemary chicken is in the crockpot right now because I needed something for tonight :)


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