More on Insanity
from paranormal historical romance author Lisa Hendrix
I popped in to catch up on what you've been talking about and figure out what to write about and just had to laugh at Sarah's post on preparing for NaNoWriMo (hereinafter referred to as Nano because all that switching back and forth between caps and small letters without any spaces in between drives me nuts).
See, I do my own version of Nano every time I finish a book. I tend to start slow, edit too much, then come up hard against deadline and go into a frenzy at the end. I did that with Immortal Warrior, doing 30,000 (polished) words in the final month, and I'm doing that right now, finishing the next book in the series. Every time, I swear I'm not going to do it that way again, but every time, I find myself going crazy at the end and pushing to get done. By now, I fear, I have it down to a fine art, as well as a very ingrained bad habit. So I decided to give Sarah my support from afar and offer some nitty-gritty advice on surviving a writing marathon to those who may be trying Nano for the first time. Sarah hit the intellectual prep for Nano. I'm hitting life-style prep, in 10 easy steps.
1) Food. Lay in lots of frozen and canned food, preferably of the type that goes into a microwave and comes out edible with no further attention. If you're the type who cooks and freezes, terrific--you've still got a couple of days to fill that freezer compartment. Otherwise, Costco is your best friend. Supplement with fresh fruit and salads (pre-cut/washed) to fool your body into thinking it's getting real food. It may not seem like a big deal now to spend 30 minutes or an hour each day cooking a meal and eating it, but it will be huge down the road. If you have the freezer capacity to contain an entire month's worth of frozen stuff, go for it. It's one less thing you have to deal with when you're trying to write. If you don't, plan a once/week trip and make sure you get what you need. You don't want to waste writing time on multiple trips to the store. Remember to buy coffee, Diet Coke, or whatever your preferred caffeine source is. You will be mainlining it.
2) Junk Food. Don't. It's too easy to snarf down that entire bag of Doritos when you're stressed--which you will be--or your characters aren't cooperating or you've written yourself into a corner and think you've got to edit but know you're not supposed to and...Just don't. All you'll have to show for it is a fat ass. Been there, done that, (Ten pounds on one book. Aack.) If you absolutely must have something crunchy, I recommend celery, unstuffed. Supplement with two squares of high quality chocolate each day, aka Vitamin C. I prefer Lindt 85% cacao. Gives you all the joy without all the calories.
3) Bills. If you're the one responsible for the making sure the bills are paid every month, take care of what you can now and get ahead of the rest by seting up auto-pay or pre-writing checks. Set up reminders in whatever calendar system you use (iCal for me) to nudge you on bill day, and do it on schedule so the ghosts of unpaid bills don't eat at your writing energy. Unlike some other chores, I don't recommend passing this off to another unless that other has the same, ahem, financial ethic as you. You know what I mean. You want to come out on the other side with your credit rating intact.
4) Housework. Teach people to load and run the dishwasher. For floors and furniture, either hand the Swiffer to someone else or just say no. It's only a month. Dust bunnies may be scary, but they never actually killed anyone. Or at least, none have been convicted.
5) Laundry. Get it all done now, and try not to think about it during the month. Better yet, teach everyone in your house how to do it. They need to know anyway. My kids have been doing their own laundry since they were 8 and 12, after they complained how unfair it was that they had to fold one load of towels as I was sitting there folding load after load of their clothes. It took 5 minutes to teach them. They're 13 and 17 now and I haven't done any of their clothes in all those years. For a while, they weren't as clean as I like, but they were as clean as they chose to be, and they grew out of slobhood when they discovered the opposite sex (peer pressure does have its good side). I have 4-6 fewer loads of laundry to deal with each week, and they get to feel all smug and superior about knowing how to do something their friends still have no clue about.
6) Speaking of Children. If you have them, they will need your love even if you're writing, but that doesn't mean they get to interrupt you at will. Teach them that what you're doing is important, and that important things done by people you love deserve respect. Tell them what hours you'll be writing, stick to those, and make sure they understand that you don't want to see them during writing time unless there is fire or blood. Take 5 minute breaks every hour in which you make sure they know you still love them but that you also love yourself and that's why you're doing this. It will teach them that they should love themselves, too--probably the most important thing you'll ever teach them. Set calendar reminders and alarms so you don't forget important things, like band concerts and, oh, I dunno, picking them up from school. Multiple times. (//raising hand//) Guess what--they still love me, and I've been doing this since the oldest was 1.
7) Spouse. Many of the same rules apply as for kids, except they're usually a little better at delayed gratification. Tell your spouse that if s/he will be patient during November, you will arrange for the kids to be gone at some point during December so you can have wild monkey sex in whatever room of the house s/he wants. Make sure you follow through, so that next year/next book s/he trusts that you mean it.
8) Pets. Make sure other people know how to feed them, scoop the litter box, and take them for walks. Another terrific learning opportunity for kids.
9) Neighbors. Tell them what you're doing and make sure they know what that means, e.g. you're not available for coffee, the leaves won't be raked until December 1 no matter how deep they get, and the fact that you're wearing the same clothes three days in a row does not mean you've started drinking.
10) Hotels. Consider one, especially if you have one of those kids/spouses/dogs/neighbors who cannot take no for an answer and is always "wondering if you might need a break." I've done some of my best writing in a Holiday Inn Express. You can keep weird hours, sleep when you need to instead of on someone else's schedule, and wake up and go straight to the computer without brushing your teeth so you don't lose that great idea you just had in a dream. Just make sure the hotel you pick has either good 24 hour room service, a Denny's next door, or an in-room fridge and microwave. If the latter, stock the fridge and don't leave the room except to get a little exercise. Have them take the TV out if that's a problem for you. Take your own coffee maker and coffee supplies, because what they have in the room is guaranteed to suck.
And a bonus:
11) Blinders. Buy a pair and wear them, so you don't see the dust bunnies, the wrinkled clothes, the unkempt children, the begging dog, the horny husband, or whatever other small issues might distract you. It's just a month. You can do anything for a month--including changing your life by finishing a book.
Just please take the blinders off long enough to remember to vote on Tuesday. That's not something that will wait, so you need to mark your calendar, set your email reminder, put it in your cell phone, or whatever it takes. (And since you'll be out anyway, you may as well stop buy your local bookseller on the way to the polls and grab a copy of Immortal Warrior so you have something to read in line. Books and Ballots!)
Immortal Warrior (Berkley Sensation, 978-0425224540) will be available in bookstores everywhere Nov 4--or right now, if your bookseller is like one I heard about in Michigan. Please drop by my website to read an excerpt, and while you're there, check the Contest page for my current contests (more than one, and a new one each month), including a chance to win an ARC for next June's book, Immortal Outlaw.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
More on Insanity