This is the hardest part of NaNo. Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I had a pretty open schedule. I played in the backyard and hunted for butterflies and made crowns out of thistles. OUCH, but sometimes one must suffer for their art.
Then I grew up, and time became currency.
We joke about the social toll that NaNoWriMo takes on us. And that much is true, because if I’m going to crank out a coherent, cohesive novel during one of the busiest months of the year, you had better believe that I’m going to be scheduling my time! No going out for a lingering lunch, no long, rambling phone calls. My friends know that they’re important to me, but they’re not going to see me this month. My first priority is my family. My second is the novel. The rest is superfluous.
Of course, life doesn’t scream to a grinding halt just because Mom is working on her novel. There are children to dress, lunches to make, and a house to keep clean. We’re still tackling the seizures head on, so there will be extra medical appointments. My children still need to be snuggled, bathed, and sung to. Oh, yeah, and fed. People in this house like food.
So it all comes down to organization. This is by no means my strong suit, but it’s amazing how things manage to figure themselves out when absolutely necessary.
I wake up and immediately get the house humming. I unload the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry. I chase my children around, get them dressed, and send one of them off to school. Then it’s working out (which is so extremely necessary for a writer! I’m even so stiff lately that I’m considering yoga again, and I despise yoga, but that’s another post), grocery shopping/errands/appointments, playtime, and then nap time for the little one. While she naps, I try to write. Or I crash, if I’m exhausted from burning the candle at both ends. The little one wakes up, the school bus returns, and our house explodes in a frenzy of Cookie Monsters and baby dolls. But you know what? My children are tiny. They don’t understand “Mommy is right here, but she can’t talk to you right now.” There is no office. There is no door to shut. And even if there was, I don’t think this is the time to shut it. Goodness knows that they’ll be shutting me out soon enough. No, we’ll play outside and swing on swings and eat crisp autumn apples. Daddy comes home. Everybody is joyful. Bath time and pajamas and bed.
That’s when I can really write. At 9:00, my husband is banned from my sight. 9:00-11:00 is scheduled ONLY for NaNo. No email. No Twitter. No surfing Amazon and (heaven forbid) webcomics. No reading slush. The gang at Shock Totem realizes that I’ll be scarce next month. Heck, some of them are going to NaNo, too.
It sounds like a plan, but it’s hard. I realize how much time that I really waste on the Internet, or flipping the TV station, or wandering around the house looking for things. This is good because it makes me reevaluate everything that I do this month. I’m forced to plan ahead, since we’re traveling for Thanksgiving. I’m forced to cut everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. It’s also a joy to realize how necessary family playtime is. Sometimes I forget.
Not to mention that every spare minute (washing the dishes, driving through town) is spent daydreaming, plotting, and planning. I eat, sleep, and breathe the characters. It’s a year-long process all condensed into 30 days. Talk about a rush!
So how about you? How do you organize your time for NaNoWriMo? What things do you have to add to your schedule or let go?