5 Reasons You Should Do NaNoWriMo Next Month (And 1 Reason Why I Won’t)

1. You’ve never been able to finish a novel. Let’s be clear. You’re not going to leave NaNoWriMo with a ready-to-publish masterpiece. You will, however, make it all the way from “Once upon a time…” to “…happily ever after,” and that’s an amazing feeling.

2. You don’t have a writing support network. Or, at least, you don’t have support network like the NaNo network. Literally, thousands of people will cheer you through NaNoWriMo. They’ll join you in the teeth-gnashing and the triumphs, the weepy worries of week two, and the wonder of week four. You ain’t never had a friend like 300,000 writers working towards a common goal.

3. You say “but” a lot. There are no buts allowed when you’re writing 50,000 words in a single month. So just stop. Hundreds of thousands of other people have managed to do this. You can too. This is your chance to prove it to yourself.

4. You’re really hard on yourself. The best thing about a tight deadline is that you don’t have time to second-guess yourself. That can be a huge blessing for a writer prone to self-sabotage. And, let’s face it, we all are.

5. You haven’t tried it yet. There’s a crazy energy in the air during NaNoWriMo, and if you haven’t done it before, it’s worth doing just for the experience. Who knew tapping away at a keyboard could provide an adrenaline rush?

After all that, you’re probably wondering why I’m not doing NaNo this year. I have a lot of reasons, but it comes down to: been there, done that. After nine successful novel-writing Novembers, I’ve managed to nail down a process that allows me to write year-round… except in November, when my business takes center-stage. Rest assured, I’ll be cheering hard from the sidelines. And even better, Palimpsestic donates a percentage of revenue to NaNoWriMo’s parent organization, The Office of Letters and Light, every month! I may not do NaNo myself anymore, but I believe in the magic of it, and that will never change.


How Not To Cook In November

For at least the last decade, Novembers in my house have been crazy-time. Between NaNoWriMo, holiday prep, and running my shop, there’s no time to think, no time to clean, and, certainly, no time to cook.

Luckily, I’ve developed some coping strategies to keep the family fed, with at least a modicum of nutrition.

  1. Cook in October. Start now. Double every meal you make this month and put half of it in the freezer. Not every recipe freezes well (potatoes are notoriously bad), but a surprising number taste even better when they’re defrosted and warmed up for a second go. I have a Pinterest board full of recipes that work, if you’re stumped for ideas. A well-stocked freezer is the number one weapon in war on cooking in November.
  2. Supplement with ready-made sides. Prepared foods are generally full of sodium and preservatives, but if you can pull a homemade meatloaf out of the freezer, the potatoes from the refrigerated section at the grocery store should do just fine as a side dish. Deli salads are good, too, and I’m not above picking up some biscuits and corn from KFC.
  3. Two words: rotisserie chicken. Need I say more?
  4. Crockpot meals. Okay, so cooking in the slow cooker is still cooking, but it doesn’t feel like it. Somehow, it’s easier to throw a bunch of ingredients together in the morning than it is to face fixing a meal at six o’clock when you’ve been working all day and still have a million things left to do. Pull together a few easy crockpot recipes in October, so you’ll have them ready when you need them.

To get you started, here’s one of my favorite November recipes. Not only can it be prepared in the slow cooker, it also makes a huge amount and freezes like a dream.

Freezable Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

Freezable Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 lbs. lean ground beef, browned
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 ¼ cups ketchup (I like the balsamic vinegar kind, but plain will do)
  • 5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Hamburger buns

Spray crockpot bowl with cooking spray. Layer in all ingredients (except buns) in the order listed. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. Stir, spoon beef mixture onto hamburger buns, and serve.

To freeze, divide mixture into meal-sized plastic containers, leaving an inch open below lid. Remove from freezer the night before eating, and microwave to reheat.

October’s Gonna Be Fun

IMG_4247The first time I won NaNoWriMo, my now-teenage son was only eight months old, and we were in the midst of a month-long stint in Cincinnati for a project my husband was working on. In a way, it was the perfect set-up for a month of intense writing. We spent that November in a residence hotel. I only had one small room to keep picked up, the galley kitchen wasn’t going to be supporting any gourmet meals, my son still took two naps a day, and I didn’t know anyone in the city to act as a distraction. There was nothing to do but sit in my tiny, dark hotel room, and write.

The last time I won NaNoWriMo, my son was eight years old. I’d just opened my Etsy shop, and I didn’t have enough of a presence yet to have the sort of frenetic, crazy, wonderful holiday season I’ve come to expect in more recent years. We lived in Washington then, and I spent countless hours in the Starbucks next to the Tukwila Barnes and Noble, writing away with the fabulous northern Seattle wrimo crew. It was a completely different experience from that first, quiet NaNo, but just as wonderful in its own way.

Those nine years of writing dangerously, and the subsequent years, when Palimpsestic began to explode for the holiday season, taught me a lot about how to survive and thrive through a hectic November. Over the next month, I’ll be sharing the strategies I’ve learned over the course of my nine NaNoWriMo wins, and my four holiday seasons spent running an online shop. I may not be able to keep November from being stressful, but maybe I can help nudge it slightly more towards amazing. Because whether you’re spending your November writing a novel, working retail, or just planning for holiday celebrations, it really can be the most amazing month of the year.

Here’s what you can look forward to on {Manuscript} in October:

  • How Not To Cook in November
  • Why I Don’t NaNo No Mo (and Why Maybe You Should)