Survive and Thrive during NaNoWriMo (part 2)

2009 NaNoWriMo Participant “It’s important to begin a search on a full stomach.”
~ Henry Bromel

It’s also important to begin–and continue–a novel that way.

I don’t know about you, but I get inordinately hungry when I write. I take it as a clear sign that writing is an activity which requires fuel. I may be breaking only a mental sweat, but I’m sure as heck burning off something.

No doubt you’ve already starting thinking about the emergency fuel you’re going to stash in, around, and under your desk or writing space for NaNoWriMo (in fact many of you probably have that stash started already). I’m going to make a prediction that for many of us that stash will consist of sugary and salty things in crinkly wrappings. All well and good. If I need a Mars Dark in order to make those last 250 words of the day, I’m going to eat it, and I know you’re thinking the same way.

However, you are not going to put out 50,000 (intelligible) words in November if those snacks are all you are putting in to fuel your brain. Those of us with families are not going to convince them to happily fend for themselves or go on peanut butter sandwich diets for the entire month, and I doubt that most of us can afford takeout for four straight weeks, either. You need a food plan.

“Plan” is the operative word
If you’re someone who generally makes a grocery run every day or so, and you don’t think about “what’s for supper” until you’re ready to eat it, shake off those habits during NaNoWriMo. You won’t have the time to indulge those practices (although you can plan your next scene while wandering around the produce aisle, it’s much better to actually be at the keyboard). Sit down this week and plan out your meals for at least the first two weeks of the month. This doesn’t have to be an absolutely detailed plan, but know the main ingredients you will need to have on hand and what you’ll be eating each day.

If you’ve never done menu/meal planning and have no idea how to do this, here are a few resources to help you get started:

But what are we going to eat?
Okay, you’re going to plan out your meals, and you’re going to lay in groceries ahead of time to save all those extra trips to the store. However, there’s another element to consider here, and that’s preparation time. You don’t want mealtime to take up huge chunks of time in preparation, so there may be some of your favorite recipes that you’ll want to set aside during November if they’re too time-consuming.

You’ll want to concentrate on meals that fall into four categories if you want to make the best use of your time: crockpot (slow-cooker), make-ahead, quick, and one-dish.

A few years back, I set up a mini-site called CoFoNaNoWriMo (Cooking For NaNoWriMo). I collected recipes and had friends submit some, with the caveat that they had to be healthy, delicious, and time-friendly. You’ll find them at the link, and they’re already divided into those four categories for you. If you have a recipe of your own that you’d like to see added to the site, please go ahead and submit it! And if you have a NaNoWriMo tip to go with it, even better.

In addition to these recipes and others like them, remember that keeping things simple for NaNoWriMo mealtimes is key. Soup, sandwiches, and a salad makes a fine supper. Order pizza once a week. You do not have to follow your usual food routines and rules during NaNoWriMo, and don’t feel guilty about telling your family or significant other that things are going to be different during November. It’s only for a month, after all! And if they’re prepared, they’ll deal with the changes much better.

Just remember to plan ahead, budget ahead, and make smart choices about time. It’s entirely possible to get through the entire month of meals that way. And you won’t be stuck with a poorly-fueled brain that can’t stick two sensible words together, or cranky, starving housemates beating down your office door.

Next: NaNoWriMo and the rest of your life~because you still want to have one, come December

Survive and Thrive during NaNoWriMo (part 3)
Survive and Thrive during NaNoWriMo (part 1)
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