Monday, October 22, 2012

NaNo Preparations: Your Typing Machine

Go outside and play!

I’ve been walloped by the flu. I had such great plans to work on my NaNo novel outline this weekend, but all I managed to get done is a lot of whining. Which brings up an important point: since NaNo requires you to magically add another full time job to your busy life, it pays to stay healthy.

Your body is not just a typing machine, it is a fully integrated book-producing inspiration conduit. Make it sad and you will spend hours staring at a blank screen and that dreaded cursor. Blink, blink, blink....

Here are three ideas to keep your body functioning in November:

1. Snack. Food is fuel, but good food takes time to prepare. I’ve been on the hunt for something healthy and quick. This year’s snack of choice? Apple slices and veggies dipped in hummus. Stop groaning, you haven’t tried mine, which is designed to be eaten in huge quantities. And it’s cheap. Soak 1 cup dried garbanzo beans in water in the fridge overnight. The next day, drain, add clean water, and cook on low on the stove for two, four, whatever number of hours. I like my hummus smooth, so I wait until they are more mushy than canned garbanzo beans. Reserve about half the water and pour the garbanzo beans and the rest of the cooking water in a blender. Add 2T of tahini (did you know tahini is flax? Do you know how awesome flax seed is for you?), 2T olive oil, about 1/4t salt, a dash of pepper or cumin, juice from one lemon, and between 1/2 and 2 cloves of garlic. I eat so much of this I keep the garlic amount down. Blend, adding the rest of the water if needed, and refrigerate.  Yum.

2.  Move. I know, you’re deep in the action of your novel and the last thing you want to do is leave the computer. But the truth is, there are plenty of studies linking cognitive processes and movement. So here’s my best recommendation: at least once an hour get up, go outside, and talk to yourself. Actually, talk to your imaginary writing coach. Tell your coach all about your novel and what is going to happen next. Or act out some of the dialogue. Don’t worry about your neighbors, if they have been paying attention they already know you’re crazy.

3. Go to bed. Nighttime is my favorite time to write. I also have kids who cheerfully get up early and require food and transport before my day job begins. Last November I lived a war between writing and sleep. Without sleep everything took longer to accomplish, whether it was working, writing, or paying the bills. I decided to divide my writing time. I’m not as productive at lunchtime, but I actually felt better going into my evening writing time knowing some of that day’s goal had already been met. Be honest about what you need to do and when, and be willing to compromise with yourself. Pick a bedtime that will stay the same every night. Treat your bedtime like your job. Arrive on time, ready to go. Your brain, your body, and anyone who has to interact you will be grateful for it.

Once you've worked on your writing space, fueled your brilliant mind and body, and created an outline you can live with, you should be ready to go. What health tips have worked for you when you’re up against a deadline?


  1. Excellent advice! I think I'll walk the dog to the store for a lemon, as it's the only hummus ingredient I don't have on hand.

  2. All great ideas for keeping the machine in proper working condition. My only issue with food is that there is never ever ever enough chocolate around!
    I hope you get healthy soon so you can write those 50,000 words by Nov. 30. This is my first year doing NaNoWriMo and I am fired up to the max!