NaNoWriMo Distraction Techniques

day one (guardian.com)
day one (guardian.com)

Thirteen days ago I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

Yes, I know it was somewhat impetuous and very late in the day but I had been thinking about the though of thinking about writing a novel for a very long time.

During the week I thought about the tweenie novel I’d penned mumble years ago. When I say ‘novel’ I mean first draft. But the draft was complete and I vaguely remembered it being about 40,000 words. Back in the day it had even got on a shortlist for publication help. That’s help not publication. I want no confusion or extravagant congratulations. Both would be a waste of time.

Wasting time is one of the things I do best. So I did nothing with the draft. In actuality I did less than nothing because a few months after being shortlisted for publication help I blew up my hard drive with my nearly novel, many short stories and many many photos blown to bits as well.

Of course I hadn’t backed up. Backing up is for chickens, techies and people who care.

I realised I cared.

Then a really good thing happened. My defunct writing group had a Christmas lunch and I discovered that my tutor had, a year earlier, printed the whole novel. She dropped the hard copy round and, genuinely grateful, I popped it in a desk drawer in the ironing room.

Well, that’s where I thought I’d popped it.

I decided, last Thursday, that I could do a second draft for NaNoWriMo. I know this might not be the spirit of the month but it was a good enough idea for Yours Truly to get quite excited about.

I decided to gather my wits, my creativity and the pages of hard copy on Friday.

Last Friday, 1st November, I turned my laptop on and discovered many messages from the NaNoWriMo crew with lots of helpful tips, links to places I could go write with other like minded people at strange hours, lots of new Twitter followers and a list of all the things I was meant to have done prior to the start date.

Fair enough, I thought and decided all was good because I was doing a second draft so plot and characterisation of sorts etc were there already. Nil desperadum.

I couldn’t find the hard copy.

It wasn’t in any of the four drawers. I found a number of things I thought were lost which was nice but that really didn’t help.

I found what I was looking for in a bag that I used when I was training as an ESL teacher. I found it just after 5.00pm and just before I was due out for drinks. I tweeted my success and got a few more followers and more helpful hints from the team.

I was good to go.

Distraction technique one: Book yourself on a course.

When, Friday mid afternoon, I believed the novel disappeared for a second time I booked myself on a photography course for the weekend. I’d wanted to to take one for simply ages. I know I post lots of photos but since digital came along the hang of that triangle – ISO, shutter speed and aperture have eluded me.

cracked it you bugger (
got ya’ (www.wired.com)

No more, my friends, I’ve got it cracked. I had a wonderful and exhausting two days in Soho learning things.

I did not look at my novel or write a word. I lost half my newly acquired Twitter followers and didn’t open a large number of emails.

Distraction technique two: Deep clean your kitchen.

Monday morning I caught up with some TV viewing I’d missed over the weekend, enjoyed my pot of coffee and lemon curd yoghurt and had a phone call with a girlfriend.

As I opened the fridge to see what might entice me for lunch (yes, it was that time already) I noticed the state of it.

brillo brilliant (jenbutneverjenn.com)
brillo brilliant (jenbutneverjenn.com)

There was no choice. My tweenie was put on hold.

I hate cleaning but it’s rather cathartic when only one room is being serviced and it just happens to be my favourite room in the house. Goodness I did a good job.

That is until it got to the point of vacuuming.

A few months ago my Miele ‘dog and cat hair’ vacuum caught on fire. I know I could have posted it off to be fixed like the last time but instead I cobbled bits of it to a vintage Henry vacuum cleaner and made do. It has been most unsatisfactory and has got even harder to control since one of the wheels fell off.

Kitchen now agleam I decided it was time for a new appliance.

Distraction technique three: Buy a new household appliance.

Exhausted from physical labour and thirsty to boot I had a glass of sav blanc by way of self congratulation on a job well done and checked my social media. Three more NaNoWriMo twitter followers had jumped ship and my inbox was full to brimming with speed writing ideas for me to peruse. I felt a frisson of fear and not a little guilt.

Assuaging the guilt with a second glass of wine I decided there would be plenty of time to choose a working title in the morning before I went appliance shopping.

I bought a Dyson but could not take it home with me because there was a deal going for 20% off if an old vacuum was produced. I am not in the habit of driving around with old, fire scorched vacuums in my car so John Lewis and I agreed I would ‘click and collect’ from my local Waitrose the very next day. A post in itself but suffice it to say the next day was creatively wasted arguing vacuuming returns beside the cake section of said supermarket.

I came home and wrote my blog.

Distraction technique four: Write more blog posts than usual.

Honestly I have had so many brilliant ideas. I am mind mapping them with ferocity. My creative juices are in full flow. Watch out world I’ve enough grist to post every day. Forever!

I just don’t seem to be able to think of a title for my WIP. Also I have fewer followers on Twitter than before I started this malarky.

But I do have an idea for a memoir and that must be a good thing. It came to me while I was at the movies yesterday afternoon.

Distraction technique five: make this your NaNoSeeMoMo.

There are just so many enticing films appearing at the moment. It’s that time of year when the clocks go back, the evenings draw in and the rain beats down. Well it does here.

On Saturday Mr Carmichael dragged me away from my WriMo guilt trip and took me to see Captain Phillips. It might just be the movie we’ve most enjoyed equally. I wanted to see every trailed film as well.

wish I'd written it (lostinthemultiplex.com)
wish I’d written it (lostinthemultiplex.com)

Yesterday, on a recommendation, I saw Wadjda, now my film of the year. There’s something about going to matinee movies isn’t there? A little bit naughty, a lot nice. I’m also booked in for next week’s lunch time show.

The moment I got home I rushed to my computer. I began typing with frantic zest and vigour.

And checked out memoir writing courses, emailed them, found a photography holiday course in Marrakech that looks like fun and emailed them as well.

Distraction technique one: Book yourself on a course.

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53 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Distraction Techniques

  1. Brilliant! I’m in course booking mode too! Hat making, Spanish and travel photography so far! What was the course you did in Soho, I could do with something like that? Debbie

    1. the London school of photography. the tutor, Kit, (female) was lovely and there were only 3 of us on it which is why I think I got so much.
      The photography travel company is frui – I am drawn to them.
      I did Espanol for years. You’ll enjoy that.

      1. Thanks. I’ll check that out. If you’re running out of excuses I highly recommend making a hat. Leads to a follow on excuse of going somewhere you can wear it!

  2. Hey Mrs C, you can come over here anytime and clean my kitchen – how are you with ovens? I’ll even treat you to a coffee and lemon-curd yoghurt, bit of an odd combo that one. As for writing I have found that it helps NOT to tell anyone you are going to do it.

    I am awarding you the Procrastination member of the month – to accept said award you need to…
    Jude xx

    1. Cup of coffee and lemon curd yoghurt – not a foul mixture. I also had a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds atop the yellow yum.

      I do not do ovens and am about to have them, the hob and extractor spruced. It’s really good value and not a job I desire.

      I didn’t tell anyone. I have now that I have all but given up.

      I accept the award with joy and only hope there’s a monetary element to it since it seems I am not going to make my fortune via teen fiction any time soon.

  3. You should start a new trend – NOnowrimo! You would be an instant success. And look on the bright side, you’ve had a very pleasant week doing other things. I just signed up for a course too, online with the Australian Writers Centre. It’s Writing Picture Books and starts at the beginning of December. I’m really looking forward to it. What is on your agenda for today?

    1. I love the NoNoWriMo idea. You should patent it.

      Good luck with the course. I have a memory that I’ve written a picture book as well. I thought it was rather good – inspired by my dancing daughter. But that well and truly went with the exploding Vaio.

      Tomorrow, my dear, for it is still the day before here up the top of the world I am driving Mr C to a distant railway station, Christmas lunching with my book group in the Grove (where the English football team are holed up!!!!) and then probably having a nap.

      I might have some creative ideas but they will not have anything to do with the WIP.

    1. it’s coffee (a cup of) and lemon curd flavoured yoghurt. It is divine. Yeo Valley used to make a lemon curd and ginger which was utter ambrosia but apparently I was the only one who though that.
      Yes the course/holiday looks wonderful and there seems to be a slight emphasis on drinking as well 🙂
      Check it out at Frui.co.uk when you have a bored moment. It’ll successfully stop you doing what you should be.

      1. Ah I see ‘… seems to be a slight emphasis on drinking…’ therein lies the real reason for a spot of shutterbugging in Marakesh. I shall definitely check it out for Marakesh has always been on my bucket list: and maybe I might give a coffee and lemon curd yoghurt a try, right now though it’s a spot of vodka, no Chardy in Penghu, or Sav Blanc for that matter!

      2. Yes I understood 1.coffee 2. lemon curd yoghurt, however reading back it does read as though I think you are having a coffee and lemon cured yoghurt.

        Sounds delicious although I feel it may be a tad cold and possibly slighty mouldy by the time I got to the UK. Hmmm hopefully I have assumed correctly re you & the UK.

  4. I love all your “distractions” or excuses (!) for avoiding writing. I could use a few of these myself in my quest to finish my novel. Each day I’m getting further behind due to any number of the “distractions” listed above (plus some!). The lemon curd flavored yogurt sounds yummy to me!

  5. Excellent! This is why I never literally sign up for NaNo. Read your draft, reread, make some notes, and then on Nov 30, butt in chair. 😀
    (also, how come I didn’t know you were on Twitter?)

      1. 😀

        Yes, Mrs Fringe is on Twitter. Haven’t quite gotten the hang of it, frankly. Mostly just auto links when I post something new here on the blog, and every so often I’m inspired to engage in general foolishness 😉

      2. It’s 5.pm here but I feel ready to take to my bed. it will be a most abstemious eve. Thankfully NZ beat England here just now. Really the only thing MrC and I disagree on what makes success. Tonight it’s mine!

  6. Well, what larks! I’ve enjoyed the post and the comments…. I am Mrs Procrastinate personified…. My blog was originally set up for poetry (I write some occasionally) with photography as the bolt-on…but photography is the main event, and I still haven’t changed my ‘About’ page! Hahaha… Oh, and I’m seriously thinking about a photography holiday/ course /whatever next year…

  7. Wow! As I’m reading your list of distractions I couldn’t help but think that somehow you and I are leading parallel lives. Cleaning the fridge, taking courses, doing anything except what I’m suppose to do sounds like me, especially during report card writing time. I also used to own Golden Retrievers. When the last one passed at the age of 15 we decided to devote our attention to our little nut, Frances. She’s actually my husband’s dog. He now tells everyone that the Goldens were my dogs. Well at least Frances gets my husband out for long walks every day. She’s way more demanding than the Goldens ever were. Looking forward to following you and reading more. Carol

  8. Heh. I gave up novel writing shortly after I took the first 43 pages of my in-progress novel and sorted them alphabetically by order. Yup, that’s right, all the paragraphs beginning with About or After or Actually were followed by those beginning with Before and so on and on and on. What really made me give up was when I’d finally sorted the whole thing out (with a few paragraphs left over, like bits of a motorbike engine that’s been reassembled in the garage) and realised that it was probably better in alphabetical order….. Oh and Jilly Cooper gave up with Riders for years after she left the first 50,000 words on a bus. So there we go, solidarity all round for Stupid Things That Can Be Done To A Work In Progress. I still think you should book yourself on either a) a travel writing course or b) a memoir course. You’d be a star!

    1. I’m looking at the memoir again. I’ve found some online ones. The Faber one looks fab and am reading Julia Blackburn’s The Three of Us at the mo -excellent and she’s the teacher but the price woo ooh!!!!

  9. More housework gets done by writers avoiding writing than any other single cause. It can be useful when you need to think about something by distracting yourself from it, with the bonus that organizing things often helps me (at least) organize thoughts, too.

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