I’m a flighty person, usually jumping from idea to idea without much consideration in between. These ideas usually run parallel to each other in my mind and sometimes it’s very easy to forget that the real world (particularly my own body) have needs that need to be filled as well. This is me normally. As of tomorrow I will be attempting to write 50,000 words in a single month and the past has well and truly informed me that if I hope to get anywhere near my intended goal (or even maintain concentration for long enough to make it a possibility) I need to trim off some of the fat in my life!
So here are ten elements of my life that will be utterly forgotten once I begin NaNoWriMo tomorrow!
1. My hair.
Oh hair, you look so lovely when I can actually be bothered to sit down for a few hours and let some stranger primp and yank you. It’d be easier if I could at least read whilst they’re doing it but apparently my haircut will end up “crooked” (pah!). So here’s the deal hair: could you do me a solid and just stop growing for about a month? This way I won’t feel so bad when you’re ends start drying and breaking. I won’t notice my extending roots and develop a sudden love of wearing my bowler hat to the office. If you manage this for a whole month then I SWEAR I will sit in one of those damn chairs and give up an entire day’s writing and reading just to attend to your needs.
2. The Gym.
I love being active, I really do. I haven’t been out and about nearly as much as I’d prefer since I got my car and I dropped my Ju Jitsu lessons but I still enjoy a good run and trip to the gym. However this is time that I simply can’t spend when I’m trying to crank out an entire novel.
The worst part? I’ve long since given up promising myself that I’ll make up for this temporary sedintry existence by eating right because…..
I hate cooking at the best of times and will happily microwave any food I can. If you expect me to use an oven then be prepared for me to start doing something else, completely forget I was making anything and for the house to be a little more smoky thanks to my actions. I once left a pot of pasta on the boil for two hours when I started writing, fusing the pasta to the pan in a black, tar like substance that I wanted to keep and see if it developed sentience. And this is when I have the luxury of time to actually make an effort.
As I said above, I used to promise myself that I’d eat well during NaNoWriMo to make up for sitting at my desk for hours at a time. Fruit, veg, the whole she-bang. Not one year have I managed to keep this up and it usually means I waste even more time by eventually giving in and gorging on sugary drinks etc. by the end of week one. The perfect NaNoWriMo meal is easy to consume by the handful and is able to be stored no further than one foot from my desk chair for the entirety of the month. It also won’t go off.
I’m in a staggeringly lucky position that my partner loves to cook and has promised to ensure that some level of nutrition will find its way into my body. This will probably help a great deal to minimise the three week shakes that are usually part and parcel of my NaNoWriMo attempts….
Yeah… I hate writing this one but it’s going to be the truth. I vanish from this world every year between November 1st and November 30th, emerging only under the banner of failure. I adore my friends but my word count holds heavy over my head whenever I try to do anything other than write. Luckily, my friends are epic, with several of them attempting NanoWriMo themselves at some point or another. They usually manage to drag my away from my laptop for a while each year and do that non-writing thing that everyone is always going on about. And I know they’ll be celebrating with me if I manage to hit my target.
5. My Mad Scientist Partner
It must really suck to be the partner of someone doing NaNoWriMo… being outright ignored even if you’re in the same room. I get so engrossed in my writing that I don’t notice even if someone is trying to interrupt me and apparently I make noises in responses to queries that I am unaware of. It’s as if I’ve developed some evolutionary response that intends to give the appearance of my paying attention I don’t even notice! It’s fair to say though that it’s in early development as my partner can tell pretty quick if I’m actually tuning into the conversation.
Fortunately, Ghosts and the latest State of Decay are being released right around the time when all other features of my life will become distractions. I estimate that this will give me at least three weeks where my partner will also be engrossed in other activities. That said, my lover really is a bit of a mad scientist and I can already foresee him thinking up attention grabbing machines to pull me back!
Before NaNoWriMo, November had an entirely different special place in my heart. Bonfire night is November 5th and, whilst I accept it is political propaganda, it’s also one of my favourite UK celebrations. Cosying up against the coming winter, a huge bonfire and fireworks, I have many happy memories of this occasion. This is why it kills me that bonfire night is slap-bang in the first week of NaNoWriMo, the week when I’m most likely to be productive and when it’s most likely that I’ll be able to build up a buffer word-count against slacking later on. Every year I wrangle with whether I should go, along with some other events that will be ongoing. I can’t help but recall that the only year I’ve ever managed to win NaNoWriMo, I was in Australia where bonfire night isn’t celebrated…
Ha! Moving on…
The first thing to go, every single year! Okay, I don’t actually advocate not sleeping during NaNoWriMo and it’s certainly not something that I can even try, seeing as how I seem to respond to sleep like a cat. I adore sleeping, dreaming, dozing and resting but I’ll be working late into the night more than once by the time November is done. Hopefully I’ll be restricting this to the weekends but I can make absolutely no promises. To this end, work might not appreciate this attempt at personal creativity when I turn up with suitcases under my eyes and a vague confusion about whether I’m in the real world or still dreaming.
A quick note though, for those who are perhaps trying NaNoWriMo for the first time: don’t decide that sleep is the enemy. Sleep usually helps your writing to sound like the workings of a sane person. If you find yourself writing “I am a fish” over and over (or the prose equivalent) then do yourself a favour and turn in.
Again, this is not a primary concern of mine during my regular existence but this is sure to be maxed out during NaNoWriMo. My first year, when I was still in university, I kept forgetting to do any laundry and was forced to put dirty clothes back on (sans underwear) in order to make it to the laundromat and actually clean my clothes. I’ve usually been forced to do this every two years that I attempt NaNoWriMo. It’s amazing how the goal of 50,000 words really does just push everything out of the way.
That said, I’m not a student any more and I’m pretty sure being able to dress myself in clean clothing is a necessary part of my work contract. Of course, I have some leeway over how well put together my outfits are and I foresee several questionable attempts at fashion choreography as I sleep less, spend more time starting at my computer and generally walk through my days in a daze. If I go to work with multiple items on backwards then I’m ashamed to say that it won’t be the first time…
10. ALL OTHER INTERESTS
In addition to writing I also love to play videogames and read. I will be doing neither of these activities throughout November. I’ve tried to balance them in the past, promising myself “just an hour” of reading here or “just a few levels” there but I simply don’t have the will power for it. There’s only one answer to finishing this quest: everything else must be put aside. No television, no internet, no gaming, no YouTube, no Cracked, no reading. All must become writing towards the goal. I’m starting to sound like an obsessive follower for a strange cult but, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about NaNoWriMo it’s that it has taught me the limits of my own ability. I love hearing about the people that manage double the word count whilst also having a full time job, teaching themselves the piano and rescuing cats from trees but it’s just outside of my ability. I’m so flighty that the only way to reach this goal is to lock out as many distractions as possible, whilst letting those around me know that I still love them very much; I just need them to stop talking to me for a month or so. And this is what I love about NaNo, the self reflection that I get and the inescapable truth that I don’t make word counts because I stop trying or I allow myself to give into distraction and never find my way back to my concentration. What’s your style of writing with regards to NaNoWriMo and what has it taught you about your technique?
I hope to make 2013 my second year for winning NaNoWriMo, my first whilst living in the UK. And it shouldn’t be too hard, I wrote this blog post in 40 minutes and it’s nearly 1800 words long! I’m optimistic but if you message me when the halfway mark arrives….
Good luck to all those taking part in NaNoWriMo 2013! Power up!