Monday, September 29, 2014

FINAL 10K Writathon Dates Set

After a month long poll we have our 2 final dates for our 10kWritathons in November. So set aside Nov. 2nd and Nov. 8th for our NaNoWriMo 10kWritathons. You spoke and here is the results. I can't wait to have all of you join in. Here is the schedule.

You can find this at our 10K Writathon tab.
Remember you don NOT need to be participating in NaNoWriMo to join us for the fun. Though it is fun and you meet tons of other writers participating in NaNoWriMo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Prepping Meals for NaNoWriMo

Prepping for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) isn't just about your project. Yes you need a story line, plot twists, characters and all that. For us busy parents it is tons more to preparing for a month of writing. There are sitters, significant others, appointments, and of course the kids.
My kids are teens and can fend for themselves for the most part, but I feel I neglect them during November when it comes to meals. Last year was my 1st NaNoWriMo and they complained about having to cook for themselves most of the month. I started doing slow cooker freezer meals the last 4 months. The kids love them and they even thaw them out and toss them in to cook. They ask for them more than I have made up.

So, I sat down with my kids and we worked out which meals the kids want and how many times each month. Here is our usual meal list for a month. For your meals, you choose what your family likes. The more they you like a meal, prepare for more than 1 of them. As you see here, There are several that I make up 2-3 of. Most of these are slow cooker meals. I do like to make other meals. Breakfast food is a major hit that's quick and easy. Roasted chicken takes me 20 minutes to prep and toss in the roaster. Goulash and sketti are also toss togethers I can do during sprint breaks. You can do a lot in a 10 minute break.

Once we decided what we would eat I made up a tentative meal plan. As, with all kids they do change their minds on what they want to eat each night. This is where freezer meals make it easy. My kids choose the night before what to eat and pull it out of the freezer.  I make up everything for the freezer on the 2nd of the month, when I go major grocery shopping. That means I have meals for every night planned. You can tell we do NOT eat out but as most families, you probably do. Don't change that just make sure you add it into the meal plans.
Here is what my October plan looks like.

I highlight according to beef and white meat. That way the kids know for sure. I don't cook on Fridays or Saturdays because my kids are at their grandparents' then. Fajitas are the only thing I eat that the kids don't so I make those on Fridays for me and have leftovers all weekend.
Since November is Thanksgiving in the US, I am not cooking while the kids are gone. Or at least not planning anything. Here is what November's plan looks like.

For snacks I make them each Sunday or Monday night. This is my normal list.

Now, to make this cost effective here are a few tips.

  • Make a shopping list. This is a must.
  • Look at adds and compare prices. Your favorite store may not be the cheapest.
  • Take adds with you. Many stores 'price match'
  • Buy in bulk. Most meats are cheaper in larger quantities.
  • Look into meat lockers. Sometimes they are cheaper.
  • Use coupons. Yeah, I know many of us don't like it when we are in line behind ones who use them. It saves money. Last month I saved $13.49USD with coupons.
  • Don't buy all your fruity snacks at once. They spoil. 

You may end up visiting several stores. I live 35 minutes from town so I hit 3 stores. I start with the farthest away and I take a cooler in warm weather. I also use cold storage shopping bags. You can find these in most grocery stores in the freezer section.

For recipes and ideas check out 'Writer's Food' tab. You can always adapt your own recipes, use tin pans for oven use and add ingredient to recipes you find a bit bland. I add GARLIC to almost everything.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Writer's Time Management?

Working around your work, family and friends can be difficult. Especially when participating in NaNoWriMo. Here are a few things I and others have found helpful.

Create a space you can write in. this can be a corner of the room you are in
the most. I set up in the kitchen during NaNoWriMo. That's where my washer and dryer are and of course all my snacks. Bedrooms, guest rooms or if you have a home office that's great too. Make sure you can organize the space. You'll need space for all your notes, research and pens. Keeping notes and research is easy for me, I use Scrivener. Plus you need a place for your drink and a few snacks. I have seen office space created out of an unused closet. 

Get a white board calendar, write all events. Use different colors for family, work, school, friends, special events (birthdays, holidays, projects due), and errands. Make a date and/or family night to spend quality time with loved ones. This can be a dinner and watching DVDs, dinner out, attending a sports event, or whatever you and your loved ones like to do. I set aside 1 night a week for my kids plus each kid gets 1 movie a year and no matter when it is I take them. I have it easier than most parents; my kids are usually at their grandparents' every weekend. My son is 17 and fends for himself well. Add words counts each time you write. This will help you track when the best time to write for you is. Having time for research and outlining should get tossed in there somewhere.
Make sure you set times for getting kids ready for bed, family dinners, a night out with friends, and spouse time. It can be 1 hour or many more. It all depends on your responsibilities. Once you find the perfect times to write keep to it. If you need more time and have young ones, have a family member take them to a movie, park, etc. for a few hours.  Get to know parents of your kid's friends and set up play dates where you take turns having the kids at your houses. Remember when it's your turn there will be NO writing time. This may seem overwhelming but it's not once you are set in a pattern. Write while kids are napping. 

Plan meals ahead of time when you are setting a day aside to write. We have many under tab 'Writer's Food'. These are very helpful during 10k Writathons, and NaNoWriMo. Freezer meal, cut and chopped salad makings and easy grab snacks for kids work wonders as well. 

Example of sprint tracking
To keep on track take advantage of wordsprints on Twitter. These are to motivate you, keep you focused and moving. It is also a way to track average word counts for certain times. Here are a few other ways to track word counts courtesy of The Write Practice.  There are many. Fridays are an all day thing with @FriNightWrites for #writeclub. To find them look under tab 'Sprint Schedules'.
When using sprints use the break time (usually 10 minutes) to toss or fold  a load of laundry in, grab a snack and drink, clean a toilet, pick up a room or half a room, quick research, dishes, outlining further, prepping for holidays or family meals (Thanksgiving in US during NaNoWriMo), or dishes. You would be surprised at how much you can get done in 10 minutes. If you are not online set a timer for sprints of your own.

6" x 9"

2" x 1"

Use waiting rooms, kids' bath time (watch them if young) and waiting for kids at the school to write, jot notes. ALWAYS keep a notebook and pen close. Stash 1 in the car, bathroom, or the room you are in the most. I have a notebook in my purse, kitchen, bedroom (never know when you'll wake up with an idea), in the bathroom when I'm taking a bath to relax, and in the living room. You don't need to have a full size notebook. Here are a few examples.
4"x 5 1/2"
4.5" x 3.5"

You can use a notebook to keep records of word counts as well. 

Learn to say 'NO'. When others ask you to do something you really don't care to do, say 'no'. It takes
practice I know. There are those times when friends call at the last minute to watch their kids, go shopping or hit the coffee shop. Let everyone know when you plan to have a full day of writing and that you won't be available. Place a sign on the doors, change voice mail message, and post on Facebook that you are writing. 

Knowing how family life, school life and life in general you have a 'To-Do List'. As long as you get things done on it you feel great. Here's the thing... you don't have to do them in the order they are on your list. Even the list for your WIP. With the WIP you change what you work on. You feel like writing poetry, do it. You want to jump ahead and write a sequel prologue, do it. 

Another important note... while writing do not open facebook, pinterest, email, get the point. These are distractions. If you must check them do it during a break and set a time limit. 

Reward yourself! Yes rewards keep us moving along. Set goals for a week or a month and set the goal for each. Goals can be word counts, chapter counts, section counts or even research and outlines. Rewards can be anything from an expensive coffee with friends, a movie, to an outfit. Whatever gets you motivated.