Tips For Completing NaNoWriMo During The Holidays

We’re heading into the final stretch of NaNoWriMo with just seven days left, and if you’re on track (unlike me) you’ll need 11,659 more words (or probably more, like me), but something scary is about to happen, something that threatens everything, something that could make the last three weeks of filling up every spare moment with writing all be for naught: American Thanksgiving.

*imagine an evil turkey gif here*

First of all, I don’t know why November is National Novel Writing Month. Well, okay, I do, it’s because of the “No,” and nothing anybody says is going to change my mind about that, but that was a STUPID reason because everything else about this month makes it tough: it’s 30 instead of 31 days, it’s a month into school for a lot of people, so they’re in full swing, and it’s the start to the HoLiDaY SeAsOn which makes people literally insane. It should be January, and here’s why:

Honestly, February would be pretty damn good too.

But alas, it is November, and we have all agreed to this misery, but if you’re in the U.S., there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been summoned to participate in ThE DiNnEr which is rarely just one meal or even one day. In my experience, it’s usually about a week filled with cooking, traveling, and–worst of all–socializing. Time is typically a hot commodity, and often we give the best of it away, leaving ourselves little to work with. So here are my top five tips to get some of that precious time back so you can complete your NaNo project this Thanksgiving.

(1) Get Up Early/Stay Up Late

This is my worst tip (hence why it’s first) because I’ve tried it and it rarely makes for good writing, but it does sometimes work. Set yourself aside some time before everyone else is awake or after everyone’s gone to sleep. If you’re AM-ing it, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT get out of bed to do this–I guarantee your mom is already up and on her second cup of coffee, balled up on the couch, just staring down the hall toward the bedrooms, watching, waiting, annihilating (any chance at sneaking down for some silent coffee by yourself). Throw a blanket over your head Harry-Potter style and write by the dimmest flashlight, for in the darkness your must remain, my little writing goblin. Conversely, you can go to bed early but actually write before drifting off. This might work unless you’re surrounded by drunk uncles who playing increasingly loud games of euchre after they get over being pissed at one another about something that happened when they were in their pre-teens. I suggest headphones and ambient-mixer.com to drown out the slurred swearing.

(2) Get Out Of The House

I’ve noticed something over the years: if you try to get half an hour alone around family members it just never happens UNLESS you say you’re going for a run. For some reason, going for a run is like a hall pass to solitude, no questions asked. And I am NOT convinced these people are actually running. I think they’re putting on running outfits, sprinting to the first corner, and flopping down on the sidewalk to say the ultimate thanks to the universe for some much-needed silence. So why not you too? Grab some leggings, a sweatband, stuff your notebook down your sweatshirt, and pass through the kitchen with a big smile and a “Be back in about half an hour!” On the off chance someone wants to join you, you’ve already got your sneakers on and are halfway out the door, so sorry, cuz!

(3) Invest In Your Future

Round up the children and play a game of hide-and-seek. I know, that sounds terrible, but hear me out, as this tip is not what it seems for you must be willing to make a deal with the devil, or at least one of them. Pick the most cunning child, one who is capable of keeping a secret, a little, sneaky son-of-a-bitch. (The less trustworthy to their own parents the better–this is important for later.) Tell them they must play the seeker and then bribe them to not find you for at least fifteen minutes during which you will be furiously typing from a closet. They will gain a crisp one dollar bill (leverage will of course depend on age and shrewdness of the child) if they purposefully avoid your hidey-hole, and if they keep the rest of the demonic spawn away as well until the time is up. This can possibly afford you a small goldmine of sprints interspersed with actual hide-and-seek which, admittedly, can be kind of fun. And if the little bastard rats you out? Well, you picked the shithead for a reason–gaslight them to the rest of the family. Just make sure to check your dinner roll later for any sign it was “accidentally” dropped on the ground.

(4) Turn The Tables

No one wants to hear about your book. They might ask, they might even pretend to be interested, but they’re really just waiting for the right moment to tell you, “You know, I had an idea for a book once!” so that they can then drone on about their Very Unique Idea™ about a dude who’s fed up with his life and just wants to drive, man. But this year? This year? It’s your turn, bitch. Interrupt them, “that’s nice, so–” them, tell them that Jack Kerouac is overrated, but you–you–are writing the next great American novel, and then YOU drone on about the symbolic nature of vampirism and how you’re going to take back the word “alpha” from the erotica authors. They will quickly try to escape you, and perhaps even leave you alone long enough to get a hundred or so words out. This could backfire, though, you could encounter the ever-elusive Sympathetic Grandma, but when I say backfire, I mean it just turns into you and her discussing something you really care about with someone who really cares about you, and, frankly, you’re fucking welcome, Dear Reader, because that shit is adorable. Get her a cup of tea with two splendas, okay?

(5) Time For Plan Number 2

When all else fails, you must be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and embarrass yourself, knowing that for every Thanksgiving to come this moment will be recanted, and only you will know the truth. It will be worth it. Here is the scene: you are sitting in the most populated room of the house, you have tried to leave a number of times only to be asked where you are going, so now you’re firmly planted on the arm of the sofa, wondering if your heart ca handle the caffeine of a seventh Diet Coke. Then, you know what you must do. You jump up suddenly, gasping loudly. When heads have turned to you, you grab your stomach, doubling over, and then, Dear Writer, you must BOLT. Run to the most secluded bathroom you can find where you have already so shrewdly planted your laptop betwixt the decade-old Good Housekeeping magazines and volumes of compiled Garfield comics. If anyone knocks, put on your most sickening moan, pick the nastiest button from the flatulence soundboard, and insist you’ll be out as soon as possible, but maybe they should light a candle and grab some extra TP for when you’re done. Congrats, you’ve bought yourself at least 15 minutes for a full on sprint. Bonus points if there’s a fan in there for ambiance. And if you messed with the wrong kid earlier, you might not even need to fake it!

And those are my best tips for keeping on track this season. You’re welcome, Dear Reader/Writer, and godspeed.

A NaNoWriMo Update (Without An Original Post)

It’s almost the end of 2019 which has personally been both an amazing and terrible year. It’s going to end in a way I could have never expected, but not without National Novel Writing Month happening all around me, so I’ve decided for better or worse to take it on yet again. Someday I need to write a post about my love/hate feelings for the concept, but for now, here’s an update on how I’m getting along with it.

First of all, their new website is all fucky, but I realize that I can use it for free, so I really can’t complain all that much. It’s just kind of annoying that the kinks weren’t worked out sooner and it was basically launched along with NaNo this year so users are having trouble with it along with trying to write 50k words in 30 days. Like I said, it’s free (unless you count the advertising), so I really should not complain, but I was having trouble remembering if I’ve ever won a NaNo. Like a real one, during November. I know I won camp once, but that’s not as “real,” ya know? And looking that info up on the site is nowhere near as intuitive as it used to be, and when I found it, it was definitely wrong, so I used my own website which…wow, right?

It doesn’t matter though; every attempt is its own and should be treated as a singular thing. The fact I’ve triumphed and failed in the past isn’t really telling of what will happen now since I’m a different person than I was during all of those past attempts. I would say I’m determined to win this year, but really I’m just determined to do it and survive.

I’m about 4000 words behind schedule, and we’re just past the halfway point. I’m at 25,931 words as of this posting. It’s doable still, and one good day will rocket me ahead of schedule, but it’s sort of funny to think: 50k words does not a novel make. I’m fairly certain my story will take closer to 80k to be properly told, so I’ll be writing into December either way. The good news is my individual 15 minute sprints are seeing more words per sprint than I used to average, proving that writing, in some ways, is a skill you cultivate through practice.

I’m still excited about the story I’m currently working on which is great news for day 18, and I’m more “free” with my writing too–that is to say, I’m sort of just going for it and worrying less about it sounding perfect or making total sense right now. The Korinniad was written more strictly, and I still made some major changes in my first edit, so I know I can’t insulate from that happening. When I jump into a chapter knowing where it should go, but not entirely sure how to get there, I sort of just force myself to write it, knowing I can change it later, and I’ve actually managed to produce some stuff I really like that I wouldn’t have probably come up with otherwise. There’s some trash too, no doubt, but the garbage pickup later will be worth the metal scraps I can trade in for a few nickels.

Which reminds me, after a long discussion with Husband, I’ve decided to self publish The Korinniad in 2020! She still needs an edit, a beta read, and a cover (and I guess an advertising plan too, ha), but I think I can get those things done in the first quarter of the year. I’ve self published in the past, so I know the technical process, but this time I’m throwing my real name on it, so it really needs to be good.

But back to NaNo. It’s happening. And maybe–MAYBE–this book will be on my future Amazon author page along with The Korinniad before 2021.