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.

Blogmas: Christmas for the Childless Heathen

It’s finally December. NaNo’s over, Halloween is long past, and the high is only 80 which can mean just one thing: Christmas is right around the corner.

Christmas easily tied with Halloween as my favorite holiday when I was little for probably the obvious reason: PRESENTS. As I got older it lost favor, but I still really enjoyed “the spirit” of the holiday, whatever that means, and baking cookies, watching sappy movies, and winter break from school. But I also moved to Ohio and Christmas became synonymous with bitterly cold weather and the constant reminder that my family was fucked up.

For about the past decade I’ve detested Christmas a little more every year. I’m not entirely sure why, but it’s probably got something to do with adult responsibilities. I do hate that it encroaches on Halloween, that it starts so damn early, and that it’s such a big fucking deal, but none of those things are actually Christmas’s fault. I am also not a fan of the religious overtones or the obligations that seem to come along with it, but again, not Christmas’s fault. Christmas has just become more of a chore than a celebration, and that’s a big bummer.

So I could go on this way, being a different shade of gloomy every year for longer and longer stretches, or I could fix it. So you know what? WE GON FIX IT.

For the 31 days of December, I’m dedicating the blog to Christmas and wintery-themed things. I don’t have kids and I’m areligious, so that kinda stuff is out, but I’m on a mission to have a fun, meaningful time without those things that so many tout as necessary to actually experience Christmas. Christmas is a feeling, they say, and it’s my mission to get that feeling back.

I also want to experiment with starting some traditions. Husband and I will be married five years this March, but we still don’t really have any traditions surrounding anything. Most people don’t consider a couple to be a family, and though I dis-a-fucking-gree wholeheartedly, I probably internalized that. But fuck that.

So I’m taking back Christmas from myself and will probably have the most fuck-riddled blogmas. You’re welcome.

And here have a bonus alternative Christmas song:

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well, it’s officially August, and you know what that means: IT’S ALMOST HALLOWEEN!

Wait, what? You didn’t know that’s what this time of year is? You don’t know about Almost-Halloween? Pre-Pre-Halloween?

Well, shit, strap in because let me explain to you how the year works:

January through March or It’s So Fucking Cold Who Cares
Everything freezes over and dies which is sort of Halloween-y, but everyone calls snow magical which veils the true brutality of the white death dust. When the Valentine’s chocolate shows up, contemplate making a bloody heart out of gelatin for your love. If they accept, start planning a couples costume.

April through June or How The Hell Did It Get So Hot?
If you’re in Florida it’s already Summer, but in the rest of the northern hemisphere, it’s spring, and no matter where you are, you’re as far away from Halloween as you can get on the calendar (though you could argue that November 1st is as far as you can get according to Prince Is Right rules). You try and find the stuff you bought at the craft and holiday-themed stores last November 1st. You find a single Dollar Tree skull missing an eye and a glitter spider with two broken legs. Rebirth is all around you, and it’s really difficult to think of death, but you gotta try, buddy. I believe in you!

July or MY BIRTHDAY and Pre-Pre-Pre Halloween
As a gift to myself in the month I was born, I start thinking hardcore about Halloween and fantasizing about a chilly breeze because it’s hotter than the devil’s butthole down here in The Sunshine State. July is like the first trimester of Halloween. You know it’s coming, but it’s still a long way off. You might start collecting things, pinning stuff, and getting grandiose ideas about something pirate-themed because that always seems like a good idea early on (spoiler alert: you’ll switch it to vampires when the first red leaf falls).

August or Pre-Pre-Halloween
Now’s the time to get your shit together for real. Make your first of many visits to Dollar Tree. Make your second and third visits to the Dollar Trees in the next city over. BUY ALL THE SQUEAKY RATS. You need to get yourself set on a theme early PPH so that your crafts/planning don’t go off on a tangent. DO YOU HEAR ME PIRATE PEOPLE? BUILDING A SEA MONSTER DOESN’T SEEM SO EASY NOW, DOES IT? By the end of the month you need to have at least half of everything you want to get done, done.

September or Pre-Halloween
HOLY SHIT YOU DON’T HAVE HALF OF EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO GET DONE, DONE, DO YOU? Of course not, because you didn’t heed my warnings and take PPH seriously. PH should be about putting the final touches on your yard display, but you really end up in a mad rush, covered in paper mache and spirit gum, one eyebrow burnt off, and when your husband finds you in the garage you realize you just lost two and a half hours daydreaming about giant spiders wrapping you in a gentle cocoon because you forgot to open the door and accidentally huffed spray paint. You might end up with naught to show for your trouble but half of a dragon skull and a cat who’s now terrified of PVC, but it doesn’t matter because guess what…

October HALLOWEEN!!!
You thought Halloween was one day? Hell no, mother fucker, Halloween is a 31 day pumpkin-spiced, Burton-styled, blood-spattered, Hill-House-haunted, bat-bogey-hexed spooktacular of all that’s creepy and orange and wonderful. You gave up on your crafts after your husband hid all the paint and just threw whatever you had out on the lawn surrounded by crime scene tape. You can spend the actual month doing some costume planning and baking all those ridiculous Pinterest holiday foods that always come out looking insane, but its okay because it’s Halloween and shit is supposed to be grungy. THAT’S THE AESTHETIC. You’ll go to work one day with eyeliner streaked across both cheeks because it didn’t come off during a makeup test the night before. You’ll try and convince your coworkers they’re crazy. It won’t work, but you can distract them with cookies shaped like Frankenstein. The actual day arrives. YOU have arrived. All is right with the world for a solid 24 hours.

November or Post Halloween Depression
Unless you’re careful PHD will hit you harder than Leatherface’s chainsaw. Visit all the craft and holiday-themed stores the day after and put that shit somewhere. It doesn’t matter where, you will only find a broken glitter spider and a skull in need of an eye-patch next year anyway. Maybe next year you will do a pirate theme? You keep the spirit (ha, get it?) alive with apple cider and cemetery visits. You salvage what’s left of the lawn ornaments. You have a little cry.

Chri-December or Green and Red Glitter Hell
Utter madness descends upon you like a plague. There is more carnage this time of year than the holiday that’s meant to be covered in severed limbs. People are literally barreling over one another for discounts at their local shop-all. It’s not the Halloweenies that are the savages, it’s the Christ-mas-ians. A few “twisted” individuals release horror-themed Christmas movies. You decorate everything with Nightmare Before Christmas stuff because you can, and ride out the storm clinging onto that plastic pumpkin you spray painted gold with the hope that someone’s throwing a fancy-dress party for New Years. And then it gets cold.

So now I hope you understand what I mean when I say it’s Almost-Halloween as basically the whole world revolves around October 31st. Start preparing now, my little creepies, Pre-Halloween will be here any moment!