The Art of Negotiation

It’s almost November, and you know what that means? It’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo! For those not familiar with the program, it means writing a novel of at least 50 thousand words between November 1-30.  I could not be more excited. I’ve got my plot lined out, my characters in development, and I’m looking for some writing pals. Anyone? Anyone?

Writing can be an all-consuming process under even normal circumstances. Add to that  the high word-count, combined with a tight deadline and family life can really suffer without some forethought. As a three year veteran of the event, my family and I have spent the last few weeks in deep discussion to assure that my needs will be in balance with theirs. In hopes that our work can be of benefit to others, I will share our negotiations here.

Writing time. This is the trickiest balancing act. While I may want to write every waking moment, my family still needs me. Or they say they do. Whatever. We have talked the most extensively on this subject and have implemented an important policy:

Unless your pants are on fire, leave Mom alone. If your pants ARE on fire, go see Dad. In the event your pants are on fire and you ARE Dad, go drag your bum down the hallway like the dog does. It works a treat.”

Personal hygiene. While my once-a-week shower schedule worked just fine for me the last three years, my family tended to disagree. In addition, I have a full-time job this year, and I work with some large tortoises who are in the habit of covering me with their feces. Our agreement is that this year, if I will clean myself daily, my husband stand by while I’m in the shower and scribble all my great ideas in the steam on the bathroom mirror. And leg-shaving is out the window for a month, even if it means that come December I chirp like a cricket when my calves rub together.

I can play Christmas carols. And then Santa can put razors in my stocking. Photo

I can play Christmas carols. And then Santa can put razors in my stocking. Photo

Laundry. This task is truly a time-suck. Between gathering, sorting, washing, drying, folding, hanging, hours a day can be lost. To facilitate reaching my word-goal, this year I will wear my clothes in the shower. So much time and water saved!

Cooking. The kids have been told they will love Annie’s mac and cheese and peanut butter sandwiches or learn to cook for themselves.

Participation in family life. It’s important to stay involved in the kids’ lives. So they don’t forget what I look like, I have glued a picture of my face to my life-size cut out of Severus Snape. This solution works well for us, as the cut out is lightweight and very portable. It can be set up anywhere from the dinner table to a 6th grade band concert, and no one is likely to look close enough to know the difference.

Work. During the month of November, I’m calling in dead.


How do you balance family life and NaNo?

And for something totally different, be sure to visit my guest post over at Below the Salt News. Weird things happen at the fair. Things we don’t talk about in polite company.

28 thoughts on “The Art of Negotiation

  1. Your sense of humor is great! I’m excited for you to be joining again this year. I tried last year, but it didn’t work out. No, that’s not entirely true. I created an account and never went back. This year won’t work, but hopefully next year will. I look forward to hearing about your progress!

  2. Good luck! It sounds like you are well prepared. I have had little nibbles of thoughts of doing this but I just blank out, no ideas appear, writing a novel scares me. If it was for non-fiction I would be more confident, maybe I’ll start working out an outline and prepare like you have done, for next year 🙂

  3. Great post! Good luck on you NaNo.
    I’m doing it for the third time as well. The first year, I signed up the day before and had no idea what I was doing. Plus I had a 4-month-old on my hands. Needless to say I didn’t get far. That was 2009. I tried again last year, planned and plotted all of October and got over 50,000 words in November. This year I spent just a few days planning, but I knew what I needed to feel prepared. I’m winging the rest. So far it’s going great.

    I like your blog BTW and your sense of humor.

  4. What a lively and funny post. If I weren’t bundled up and freezing right now, I would have laughed aloud. Happily, my leg hair is helping to warm those regions. My policy for shaving is to get out the scythe when the average length exceeds his. Once a month is about right.

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