Getting the House Ready for NaNoWriMo

Part of the work of being a NaNoWriter is to make sure that you and your support system in ready for November. Yup, this whole thing really takes more than one month to pull of properly. In December I’ll tell you all about the recovery process.

In October one of the things that I like to do is make sure that the house if ready. I count the house as part of my support system, because it is there to welcome me back at the end of a long day of work and writing. It gives me the resources to get up and go do it all again the next day. That’s the ideal anyway. Sometimes, if I haven’t done my part, it is anything but welcoming when I come home and has nothing to give the next morning.

Some of you are asking what is it I expect from my house? The answer is simple – I want food and shelter (and clothes and warmth and protection from the big bad world). At anytime, I expect to be able to come home, have dinner, relax a bit, sleep well, get up in the morning, get dressed eat breakfast and head out ready once again to face the world. It’s not that much to ask really. However, in the wild month of November when part of facing the world includes massive amounts of time spent writing, well then things can get a little bit… harder. Dinner doesn’t happen if I don’t cook it and at 10:30pm I’m not into pulling out the pots and pans and all of that. Also required for dinner is a plate… and table ware. Sleep will happen, but it works better if the cats have been fed and the sheets are clean. Getting dressed in the morning means that I have clean clothes to put on. Keeping up with all of that is part of the routine.

November inserts a whole lot of activity into the routine that takes away from keeping up with the dishes and cooking and laundry. I’ve learned that part of getting ready to write in November means getting the house ready to deal with me being unable to do a lot of the daily maintenance so some things need to be done in advance.

Cooking: In October I make a lot of food that can be saved, pulled out and stuck in the microwave. Planning ahead is important in this – don’t make a macaroni salad with mayo on Oct 5 expecting to eat it (and survive) on November 15. I start with all the things that go in the freezer. I make a lot of soups that are then portioned into single servings and frozen. They can be pulled into the fridge to thaw or stuck directly into the microwave if I don’t manage to think ahead. Closer to the end of the month I cut up the carrots and celery for munching on when I’m not ready for a full meal. The goal is to make sure that I have the same kinds of food I live on the rest of the year with only about five minutes of prep at the time that I eat it. I’ve also gotten into canning, but that’s a year round kind of activity and I wouldn’t recommend it if you only want to be ready for November.

Cleaning: October is officially the “clean the house” month. I figure if I can get the house spotless before the start of November it will be December before it really needs to cleaned again. There are obvious exceptions like dishes, laundry, cat oopses and taking out the trash. By this I mean the wash the windows, vacuum everything, dust and other wise clean all the surfaces. The stuff that you can get away with not doing every single week without risking being featured on “Trash House” (or whatever reality show highlights people who can’t keep house to save their lives). For my household, this means making sure that we have enough paper plates and plastic spoons in the cupboard. We know that we won’t be doing much in the way of cleaning, or even cooking, during November so why load on the dishes when we can just stuff them in the trash bin?

Relaxing: yup, you have to get ready to relax too. For me this means making sure that I have a couple of fluff books at the ready and that the TV remote has fresh batteries. Some of you may want to check your supply of yarn or what ever hobby keeps you sane. You will need to spend some time away from your writing in November. This is easier to do if you make sure that you have everything you need for relaxing at the ready.

Socializing: You can, and probably should, pre-socialize for NaNoWriMo. This is your chance to see your friends and family before you go nuts and they start to worry about you. In my case this means making sure that I go out with my Mom at least twice in October and call her twice a week (though sometimes she beats me to it and calls me first – I count that). I set up a time to play scrabble with my Grandmother. I make sure that I call all of my sometimes friends (the people that are friends, but I only see them sometimes when our schedules match and we’re both thinking about it). They need to opportunity to check in with me before I go off the deep end for a month. I also talk about what I’m doing with all my social networks and even at work (not recommended for all) to remind them that I’m going to be unavailable and preoccupied in November.

Shopping: It’s time to get that big grocery shopping trip done, this is part of the Cooking piece above, but also a chance to make sure that you have all the basics for the times that your prep didn’t work out so well. Or you missed a piece. But don’t limit yourself to groceries. Make sure you have enough shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, laundry and dish detergents. Check to make sure you don’t need things like socks or underwear – get them now if you do. Are there birthdays in your social circle in November? Buy now and be ready.

There is a lot to do in October, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Slip these things into your normal daily routine. You might notice a small drop in your word count in October, but don’t worry about that – you’ll make up for that and more next month. And remember, you need to do something with all that excitement that’s building up toward November.

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