#NaNoWriMo: Using Time

I’m writing from the Home Office today, rather than a booth at Panera or the front seat of my parked car over lunch hour. I have this lovely wingback chair (secretly also a recliner) in the corner of my office, and it’s in that chair that I’ve tapped out about two-thirds of this month’s project (with my trusty EeePC resting on the Logitech Portable Lapdesk that makes in-chair typing not just possible by actually enjoyable).1

This unfamiliar comfort comes to me as the primary benefit of burning some of my precious vacation time to extend the Thanksgiving holiday a little bit. Tomorrow, Kate and I will be spending ten hours of quality time together – with our dogs – driving to (and through) the barren wastelands that birthed me, but I took the extra day to both prep for the trip and write.

That’s right: a whole glorious day of writing – an actual day away from work, and not some crappy Saturday or Sunday, where your writing time is polluted by pointless interruptions like “family activities” and “feeding children” and “things I absolutely promised I’d do, even though it’s NaNoWriMo”. There are no family activities or children to do them with — the kids are at school, and my wife is working. Likewise, I have no weekend home improvement/maintenance obligations, because it is not the weekend.

Do you see the loophole I have discovered? Can you conceive the power that rests within my hands?

Who wants to touch me?


I’m sure you’re asking yourself how I’ll be spending the day — with Thanksgiving coming, there’s even a small chance you’ll be able to enjoy a luxury similar (albeit inferior) to mine, so let me lay out the means with which I maximize my writing productivity on a day like today.

[But first, a brief pause in the writing while kick my daughter out of the house drive my darling child off to participate in the physical and mental enrichment so necessary to ensuring that she can take care of me financially in my old age. ]

*Returns, windblown, toting a mocha with double espresso shot.*

Ahh, evil corporate caffeine goodness. *sips* Ahh.

Okay, now then, where was I. Oh yes.

The Day.

Now is the time that we make the boogie.
Now is the time that we make the boogie.

A writer is working when he’s staring out of the window. – Burton Rascoe

6 am: Get up.

I know this isn’t how most people roll. Hell, it’s not how I’d choose to, if I didn’t have a day job and (more significantly) a four year old to get ready before I can go to said day job. However, I do have those things, so 6 am is what happens, even when I could theoretically sleep in — my brain wakes me up at 5:45 and I start thinking about stuff, at which point I might as well get up.

I eat immediately upon rising, because otherwise I forget, and if you get up and stay active for about an hour or so in the morning without feeding yourself, your body starts worrying it’s not going to GET any food, and goes into fat-storage mode, which means that when you DO eat, it’ll all get stored as… well. Yeah. So I eat right away, check email, catch up on my must-reads out on the internets, et cetera.

Blog Post.
I start putting together the daily blog post.

She slept in a bit, which is fine since we’re in no rush today. She piles into the office and sits with me for a bit, then demands breakfast, which I provide. After, she is given instructions to get dressed for school (and oh how I love that she’s able to do that semi-autonomously these days), and I poke at the blog post a bit more.

Wife arises.
There may be some kissing here. I ain’t sayin’.

Kate also, at Kaylee’s request, is in charge of Doing Hair. Apparently, I suck at it.

School Delivery.
Goodbyes take awhile, since I won’t see Kaylee until Friday and I need to store up as many hugs and kisses as I can.

Drop-off is followed by Ambulatory Caffeine Tropism (run to Starbucks).

More Blog Post.
That would be me, writing this.

Start Next Blog Posts.
I’m going to be on the road all day, so I’m writing a pre-scheduled post for tomorrow (probably built around a comment Nathan Fillion made about the cancellation of Dollhouse) and for Thanksgiving (on the secret practices of Ninja Story Writing). The Thanksgiving one will be scheduled to drop EARLY, peeps, so you can implement the secrets within THAT VERY DAY.

Kate is off to Nia, where she is working on getting her White Belt (first tier of Instructor, I gather). In the meantime, I go downstairs and do about five miles on the elliptical (30 minutes). Say what you will about gym-vs-outside-vs-whatever, this is the deal: with a kid around, it is emm-effing hard to get to the gym regularly (unless the kid’s scheduled to be in a class there themselves), and frankly it’s a pain in the ass to take an hour to get ready, go, and come back from a 30 minute workout. It is not a pain in the ass to walk downstairs and hop on the elliptical – therefore, I actually do it, which is really that part that makes exercise… you know… effective.

Why does exercise make it into the Day of Writing schedule? Because mind and body are all one thing, peeps. They call it muscle memory for a reason; I’m not just a squishy harddrive being carrying around by the meat-zombie – the whole body is the harddrive, and it needs refreshment and exercise as much as your brain to work well. Also, the workout gets some blood going to the brain, which ain’t bad.

(Not to mention Thanksgiving’s coming, and I just had a Venti Mocha — the fact is, I just need to work out.)

The elliptical faces a blank wall, which encourages my mind to wander to things I need to write today. This is on purpose.

Maybe you don’t have a home gym, or a gym-gym? Then go for a walk or something. I highly recommend it.

Another great idea machine. My best ideas come in the shower. I wish I could find a waterproof whiteboard to mount on the wall in there.

Finish Blog Posts.
Hopefully by about 11am, but given that I’m already behind a bit on my schedule AS I WRITE THIS, more like noon.

Lunch! (And Stare out the Window)
Ham and cheese on toast. Coke Zero. Some almonds. I want to keep it light so I don’t get sleepy in the afternoon.

Also, probably dump some of the leftovers that are going to go bad while we’re gone.

Also also, get caught back up on email and Twitter and suchlike.

Write Story.
One keypress disables the wifi in my netbook (I had no idea how often I’d use that feature); another disables the touchpad. Off we go.

I’m shooting for a big chunk of words today: four or five scenes, hopefully.

Scene One done.
Go get another soda. Let the dogs outside. Rotate the laundry, if Kate hasn’t already.

Scene Two done.
Stare out the window for awhile. Think about building an addition onto the house. Finally remember to check to see if the hotel for this weekend has wifi.

Get another Soda.

Err. Wait. Is that an actually bold-faced thing? Probably.

Scene Three, done.
Walk the dogs around the block, pick up the mail. Get outside, let your brain chew on local flora and fauna. Let your dogs sniff local flora and fauna.

Dump all the mail into the recycling bin when you get home. Saves the trouble of sorting it.

Poke around the Internet. Stare out the Window.
Twitter. My own blog if there’s comments. Play the new Adrift podcast back while I’m browsing. Twitter again. Newsreader, and probably Burning Wheel’s forums, just cuz.

Also, log into Lord of the Rings Online on the Main Machine, so that it can download updates, cuz December 1 is coming soon, and there’s a new expansion dropping that day. It’s like they KNOW about NaNoWriMo.

Scene Four… kinda halfway.
I started it too late, and it’s time for…

Which is going to be Chuck’s Stuffed Squash Thing tonight. It SHOULD be a leftovers night, but dammit I want to try the recipe.

Also, we’ll probably watch some TV. Castle and Fringe are on the DVR, so figure we blow at least 85 minutes on both of those, not counting cooking time, so figure it’s dark by the time we’re all done.

Also also, we’ll fold and put away laundry while we watch TV. Hell, I might even pack my part of the suitcase. Watching TV is one of those (very rare) things where I don’t mind multi-tasking.

… Finish Scene Four
This will take awhile. I will get up and get another soda at least once in here.

Browse More Internets.
Kiss at least 30 minutes goodbye here.

Start Scene Five
There is going to be a LOT of window-gazing in this one, because it’s been quite a day. My goal is to get about halfway in, then leave it so I can jump into that on the long-ass drive tomorrow. (Bless the 7 to 9 hour battery life on my netbook. Bless it, I say.)

And that’s the Day.
What to take away from all of this? It ain’t all writing. Breaks are necessary. (Honestly, I’m sure I severely downplayed the number of times I’ll check the internet today.) Refresh your brain often, and spend time with the people in your life because while writing is awesome, having someone to share it with when you’re done is so much better.

That’s it.

Get back to work.

Have fun.

1 – I could actually talk at some length about why I write in the chair/lapdesk on my netbook and not at the nice big desk all of four feet away — the one with the lovely ergnomic keyboard hooked up to the Big Fancy PC and Big Fancy Monitor — but that’s probably a post for another day. Specifically, for a day closer to the start of the month, not the end. Opportunity missed, I’ll come back to it another time.

4 Replies to “#NaNoWriMo: Using Time”

  1. Just for the record for anyone noting that I don’t start actually working on NaNoWriMo until halfway through the day: this blog post alone meets the minimum daily wordcount, so… there. :p

  2. That sounds a whole lot like my writing days. Not just my NaNoWriMo days either, but all of them all year long (minus the bits with family and kids and stuff, don’t have those). Sometimes I feel like a slacker when I have a whole free day to write and I only spend a few hours of it actually writing.

    But all of this is true! Breaks are important for the brain! And being connected to the world and stuff is good for the creativity.

    At least, you’re making me feel like less of a slacker :)

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