Someone significant to you needs your help. They think they will need it just in November, but they're wrong. They need you now. Many challengers fail NaNoWriMo and carry the defeat in their hearts for months. Some never forget and never try to share their best work ever again. Readers around the world crave good stories. Here are some intervention strategies to help your loved one survive and thrive during the month of agony known as "National Novel Writing Month" (NaNoWriMo).
There are four critical components to a writer's survival. You don't have to study writing; just work these four areas to support your writer.
To claim victory your writer must average 1,667 words per day, every day, for thirty days straight. Most of us take between two and four hours to produce that many (almost) coherent words. A lot of things might not get down around the house. Pick up the kids, fold the laundry, put up the dishes, wash most everything. Social events can fall off the calendar if your writer is an introvert. Cuddle time with the rug rats might seem rare.
How You Help: The first big thing to do is accept that some things are less important than your writer's success. Maybe clothes don't get put up as quickly so your writer has the time to work. Maybe family meals turn into Ramen with cheese, soy sauce, and some Texas Pete tossed in. Secondly, your writer may need you to do some things they normally do. Yeah, it means more work for you. Is your writer worth it?
To Win: The key is prioritization. For a while you put your writer's work high on the list. Some things won't get done. That's okay.
Writer's wander in their heads. A lot. We walk in foreign places and absorb the sounds, smells, colors, relationships, and struggles our characters are in. If something yanks us out of that space it can take half an hour or more to get back in. Sometimes the scene is gone forever. That hurts.
How You Help: Leave your writer alone. Shield them from kids, pets, in-laws, and traveling salesmen. Realize that even if they are standing right beside you, pouring coffee, they are in a totally different reality. Let them wander there as long as it takes.
To Win: Establish a verbal signal between you and your writer. "I'm done writing for the day." is mine. My wife knows I'm mentally exhausted, still returning home, but am trying to give her my full attention. She's now free to talk about anything though it's often "the cat puked in the hallway again."
Okay, Ramen for breakfast, lunch, and supper might not be the best health choice. An active brain can consume 25% of the daily calorie intake but processed sugar (soda) and process wheat (Ramen, pizza) are bad calories. The cause the brain to crash and the mind to get mired in sludge. Further, while some of us want to retreat to the Bat Cave for the entire month, fresh outdoor air and sunshine actually help us write better and longer. We won't admit that, but you know it's true. Mix that with a walk around the mall or watching a movie together and everyone wins.
How You Help: Figure out how to have healthy meals and snacks. Check out the Primal life-style and eating ideas. It will take months to transition if you're used to Happy Meals, but everyone in the family will benefit. You won't miss the weight you lose, either. A little exercise, some fresh air, and a mental diversion will round out the weekly health adventure. Don't ask permission, drag 'em out the door.
To Win: Improve diet, get your writer outside, do short mentally engaging "dates" together. Tell your writer they can use it for a scene.
We all want to be emotionally strong, connected. To have it all together. Some of you may be like that, show the rest of us how. Writing puts our bets thoughts and deepest emotions on display. Critics hurt. Even well meaning "you should write it like this" hurts; you're saying our work isn't good enough without your changes. We really need you to keep saying how great we are and how proud you are of us.
How You Help: Early in the day remind us that the world is waiting for our novel. When we've stopped for the day let us talk about it. Show appreciation and pride in us. Smack your writer if they want to quit. Then kiss them; the shock will give them an idea for a scene.
To Win: Keep your inner critic in check for the entire month. Yes, it will be difficult. Yes, your writer's work needs a lot more work. We know that. Trying to create like mad and keep faith in ourselves is tough. We need you. We'll get to revising later, right now we need to believe in ourselves.
To Our Shared Success
You, your writer, my wife, and I, will win. On the first day of December your writer and I will be overcome with emotion: WE DID IT! There is a mind bending level up in a writer's brain when the novel is actually written from start to finish. Once the laughing, crying, and gibberish settle down we're going to find our Number One Team Mate and love you like mad. Our hearts have grown and you're the one we want to share it with.
You've got eleven months to enjoy the victory. ;)