Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Midweek NaNoPost

We're down to the final 7 days of NaNoWriMo, and today I'm prepping for my NaNo deadline week as well as Thanksgiving. I've decided to use my November novel as part of a presentation I'm giving in a couple of weeks to some marketing and publicity folks, so there's additional pressure to get it done, buffed, polished and ready for inspection (which means I have to finalize the cover art, too.) So I've given myself the somewhat brutal task of wrapping up this story in seven days.

Why, yes, I am a masochist. Sometimes I think every writer is.

I've got some stuff waiting at the finish line as additional motivation to keep going: three new novels by some of my favorite authors that I've been saving to read, taking my daughter and her friends to see the latest Harry Potter movie, and dinner out with my guy. If by some Act of Divine Intervention I make it all the way to 50K, I'll also give myself a little bookstore shopping spree.

A lot has helped me get back on track this past week, and it's not been related to my NaNo novel: spending quality time with my guy, my kid and the pups; finding my favorite apple strudel recipe (which I'm making into a bookmark so I don't lose it again.) I've also taken some time to read books by Erin Bolger, Alison Kent, Emma Holly, Jackson Pearce and Chris McKitterick. All of these things refilled the well of me the person, the lover, the mom, the reader and the caretaker.

There's something most folks don't think about: our self-esteem doesn't come from just the well of creativity. We can have many wells.

Example: this past weekend I cleaned out my fridge to make room for our Thanksgiving turkey. I try to keep it tidy, but when other people around here use it they only worry about remembering to close the door when they're through looking at everything. Thus my fridge is generally in some state of controlled to cluttered chaos.

To me a clean, organized refrigerator is like a sparkling bathroom; you don't mind anyone going in there (versus when they're in dire need of be sanitized, when you'd rather padlock them shut.) In the process of tidying up I realized I won't need to buy any sort of mustard again until maybe next June (how did we end up with seven different kinds of mustard? Beats me.) Anyway, it felt so good cleaning out the fridge I went ahead and tackled the freezer, too. At which point I determined I might need to talk to my daughter about her growing predilection for frozen pizza products.

Of course, once the fridge was completely clean, I had to tackle the pantry, rearrange my non-perishables, check expiration dates, and alphabetize the spices. Go ahead, snicker, but at my age it's pretty easy to look through the wrong spot in my trifocals and pick up the cumin instead of the cinnamon. Gives a whole new meaning to homemade coffee cake, too.

Getting my household stores re-organized for the holidays gave my spirits a nice, much-needed boost. Seems silly, arranging spices and stacking cans, but it's comforting to me to know where things are and to be able to see everything I've got at one glance (and no more hunting for my little cans of organic tomato paste that always seem to hide behind Kat's favorite canned pasta.)

A deadline week is when it all comes down to the wire, and it's a time when you really need your head to be in a good place writing-wise. At the same time, you need to balance the work with life. Doing something non-writing related that makes you feel better about yourself, your home, your job, your friendships, etc. may give you that extra dose of self-confidence you need to cross the 50K finish line. It doesn't have to be a huge, time-consuming project, either. Spend an hour playing Scrabble with your family, take care of a chore you've been neglecting, or call a friend you haven't talked to in a while. Here's another thing most people don't realize: fill one of your wells, and it will spill over into the others.

Your turn: how are things going with your NaNo novel? Are you doing anything in particular to keep your wells filled? Let us know in comments.


  1. ... and I thought our five-container mustard collection was ridiculous.

  2. Well, this year's NaNo has been rough, but I'm slowly narrowing the gap. Down to 1142 behind and hoping to get some more words before crashing tonight.

    As far as filling my well, since it's all been a mad scramble, I haven't had much chance, but we did have friends drop in for a sleepover. Maybe not the best timing, but fun all the same, and I did a 5-way video conference over Skype with my sisters and parents, which is quite a feat considering one's in California, I'm in Nevada, the other's in Virginia and my parents are in Macedonia :).

    Honestly, my guitar has been nudging, as has my quilting, but I haven't had the energy for them.

  3. I have to be honest, this is the first time i have put this much time and energy into writing a novel, i have attempted many, but lost interest fast. I think having a deadline has really helped me to step up my game. I was about 5K words behind and today i really got down and wrote 5500 words today to catch up! yay! Good luck with your novel, I hope it comes out great...

  4. For a moment there, I thought you were mad to be cleaning the fridge, the freezer and then the pantry. The old 'this sounds like work avoidance'. (It's all on my list of things to do when Nano is done, in fact.)

    But it's not.

    I am tired, I'm cranky and I'm not really happy about this book's direction; and it's the third this month without a break.

    Maybe I'm suffering from a creative drain and Nano overload; maybe the fridge will get the attention it needs sooner than planned. And maybe I'll head out into the garden. Anything to fill the well I have drained in less than a month.

    There's a lesson in this; I'll work it out...

  5. Things are going pretty good with the NaNo novel. I'm behind, but I'm not really sweating it. With only 15K to go and a holiday weekend ahead, I should hit the goal or at least get really close. Today will be devoted to cleaning, though, so I'm not expecting great writing strides. (I wish I was cleaning to refill wells, but I'm not.) When my wells need refilling I turn to crocheting or reading or organizing my library.

    Have a great holiday, Lynn, and good luck with your presentation. =o)

  6. I'm way, way behind, more than likely destined to finish at the end of December, but that's okay. I've been sick, really sick, for a week now, and house hunting, and traveling, and I am unlikely to get a bunch done this weekend, since I haven't seen my kids in a week.

    Still, I'm glad I signed up. I'm more than 20,000 words farther than I would have been. And I'll get there. I just won't get there soon.

    As to my well, I'm just trying to get enough sleep, keep the tissues handy, and keep typing. Exercise is usually my well, but I'm too exhausted for that right now.