National Novel Writing Month has been a big part of my writing for a long time. 2016 is my 12th year taking part in the mad dash to write 50,000 words in a month. It is in no small part how I learned to put butt in my chair and fingers to keyboard even when I was feeling tired, or lazy, or just like not working. It’s also been an amazing community, where I’ve met many good friends, not to mention my wife, who is currently one of the Municipal Liasons for my NaNoWriMo region. So it’s safe to say that NaNo is a deep part of my life and my identity as a writer.
So when my wife and I realized KRH would be arriving shortly before November, we started to make plans. She, as the one who would be devoting the bulk of her time to feeding and generally caring for KRH, wisely reduced her word count goal. I decided to forge onward and try and make 50k. My reasoning seemed simple enough. Babies sleep a lot, right? I knew I’d be writing tired and often getting up to change diapers, so I planned to get my writing in 15 and 30 minute chunks, when KRH and my wife were sleeping or feeding or so on.
As I often do in preparation for NaNo, I laid the groundwork for November by doing a ton of cooking. I filled our freezer (luckily we have a big one) with ham, chilli, bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, frozen lunches, and easy ingredients. I estimate I made enough for almost 200 meals (and indeed, we’ve been eating out of the freezer for almost a month and there’s still a fair amount of food left). I also planned my novel using the snowflake method, as I always do.
Almost 3 weeks in, I’m prepared to say that I’m going to reach my 50k words, but not like I thought I would. First, I find my time is in large part spent taking care of my wife, rather than KRH. We’re breastfeeding and haven’t yet pumped enough for me to give KRH a bottle, so he spends most of his time with my wife. So it’s my job to do everything else, including feeding the cats, warming up or making food for my wife, filling her water bottle, doing errands and chores and whatever else needs to be done. I’d say I’ve changed my fair share of diapers, but if I’m honest the vast majority of caring for KRH falls on her, not me. I’ll admit that when I pictured this time, I imagined it as a little more egalitarian, but this is what’s been working for us so far, including as I went back to work, first from home and now back in the office full time.
She, in turn, has insisted that I make time for writing. I’ll be honest and say that if not for her doing that, I probably wouldn’t be getting anywhere near as much done as I am. My tendency has been to hover around her in case she needs me for anything, and while she certainly did need me during the first few weeks, she’s now able to do more, and that means shooing me off to the library or down to the treadmill to write for an hour or so at a time. That’s enabled me to keep up my wordcount and I’m basically on track for 50k this month.
Another key part of NaNoWriMo this month has been events. I’m lucky (thanks again in part to my wife) that my chapter has a robust slate of events, two a week, usually several hours long and sometimes longer. That enables me to build up a buffer for the days that I don’t write, and there are always days like that. So events are not only opportunities to be social and chat with fellow writers and sometimes eat chicken fingers, but also hugely productive.
I think that so far this has been a success. My wife has already reached her word goal (and hopes to make double it) and I’m ahead of schedule to reach mine. I call that a success.