Here in the US, Thanksgiving is celebrated on November 22nd this year–right as National Novel Writing Month participants are rounding the corner to the finish line. Thanksgiving may very well be one of the most demanding holidays of the year between the cooking, visiting families (many times, more than one!), turkey comas, and festivities that can last an entire four day weekend. For some “Wrimos” this is the point where they give up the goal and resolve to do better next year. But it doesn’t have to be.
In general, NaNoWriMo is easier done in small chunks rather than sitting down and trying to write it all at once, and this is a good thing for fitting it in during the holiday weekend. It helps if you start by knowing how much writing you can accomplish in 15 or 20 minutes. On average, I can write about 500 words in that time frame, though if I’m in the groove, I can write as much as 750 (or as low as 250 if I’m struggling). But if I use 500 as my average, I know I can accomplish my daily word count in 3 or 4 short writing sessions. With that in mind, here are some ways to fit those short sessions into even the busiest days.
- If you’re hosting. This is probably the most difficult of all situations–being in charge of all, if not most, cooking, entertaining all your crazy relatives, and waiting on them hand and foot. Try to get as much writing done before and after they come over. Something I’ve really enjoyed doing lately is taking my laptop into the kitchen with me. If you have your novel file open while you’re working, you can brainstorm while you cook and then write for ten minutes or so after you finish cooking each dish. Be sure to plan for a little extra time in the kitchen for this and use your microwave timer to time your sprints.
- If you’re visiting family. Take advantage of travel time! This year I am going to my husband’s aunt’s house who lives 1 1/2 hours away. That’s three hours total of driving time and plenty of time to get some serious words in. If you’re traveling by plane, even better! If possible, go to the airport a little earlier and use the time while you wait to board the plane.
- If you will have or will be an overnight guest. Create a quiet, comfortable place in your bedroom (either at your house or theirs) to escape to every couple of hours for fifteen or twenty minutes. Head to bed a little early or wake up a little early to get some words in while no one is even missing you.
- If you watch football. Easy–commercial breaks and half time. You can even create a game out of it using the score.
- If you shop on Black Friday. Take your laptop with you and write for ten minutes in your car before each new store.
- If you can make it to write-ins. Even though it’s a holiday weekend, there will very likely still be write-ins to attend in your area. Get in touch with your region on the NaNoWriMo website and make plans to escape the madness for 2 or 3 hours. Sprints with other Wrimos are an easy way to rack up large word counts in short periods of time.
No, my dearest Chris Baty clearly wasn’t worried about cooking and shopping when he chose November to host NaNoWriMo, but it is what it is. And even so, thousands of people still win every year. As long as you don’t give up, you can be one of them. I hope these suggestions help you through the busy weekend and I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving!