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NaNoWriMo Prep: Nesting

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“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” — Elbert Hubbard.

1030-mainToday, I’m talking about nesting. It’s coming a bit later than I would like but you still have a little time and most of these tips are things you can do in the next two days before we reach midnight Monday evening.

  1. Lay in a stash of your favorite office supplies. You’ll need to take notes at some point or keep a journal on what’s happening or just have a place to doodle while you think. I’ve met few writers who weren’t a little bit giddy about office supplies in some way or another. So treat yourself: hit the store and buy some pens, markers, stickers or sticky flags. Buy a pack of index cards in different colors or sticky notes that you can post on your monitor. Have some fun. You’re starting a new project, after all.
  2. Clean Up Your Workspace. Some of you don’t need this advice because you always keep the area where you write straight and uncluttered. I will say officially that I hate you. (No, I don’t — but I am envious.) For the rest of us, time to clear away those little piles of things that seem to migrate onto our desktop. You know what I’m talking about. The old index cards from a prior project, sticky notes that we no longer need but just haven’t pulled down, things like that. Oh, and the dust bunnies you’ve been trying to ignore. Take a bit of time and tidy everything. You’ll be spending a lot of time in this space over the next month (and probably won’t tidy again until it’s done).
  3. Lay in a supply of healthy snacks. When I was younger, I could keep a small supply of jelly beans by my typewriter and munch on those when I needed to think. Now, I keep unsalted nuts or apple slices nearby because, well, I don’t shed the extra calories as quickly. Pick something that you will feel okay about mindlessly snacking on (because it will become mindless at some point) that you enjoy.
  4. Set your DVR (optional). If you’ve got a show or shows that you enjoy, make certain your DVR is set to record. It’s easier to find a program you might have missed these days online or under your cable company’s On-Demand channels, but then you have to watch commercials and you often can’t fast forward through them or the show itself. Save these as a treat for making word count.
  5. If you’re shifting your schedule to gain more writing time, start now. When folks say to set your alarm to a new time, they don’t bother to mention that the first few times it goes off are often difficult. Do yourself a favor and shift the schedule prior to November 1. It will be much easier for you to deal with if you allow your body some time to get used to the change.
  6. Come up with a back-up strategy. While NaNoWriMo has a “Back Up Your Work” day, you really should do it more often than that. Hard drives crash, flash drives fail, phones and tablets can unexpectedly turn into bricks. Back up your work on a daily basis at the very least — and have more than one place where you can store a weekly back up. The odds are that technical disaster won’t strike during November, but better safe than sorry.

The idea with all of this is to be kind to yourself. You’re about to embark on a great adventure and a good, productive writing session can leave you exhausted, both mentally and physically. You can come up from the computer feeling as if you’ve just run a 400 meter race, though, sadly, writing doesn’t burn quite the same number of calories. (If it did, I’d still have those jelly beans by my desk.)

In some senses, you’re packing for a trip. Use these last two days to make certain everything is ready — and that you haven’t forgotten your toothbrush.

Today’s post is adapted from Surviving 30 Days of Literary Madness: How to Get Through NaNoWriMo with Your Sanity and Sense of Humor (Hopefully) Intact, available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and most other platforms, including Scribd.