The month of November is a busy one for me. First, it’s my anniversary on the 6th. This year would mark 13 years of marriage to my wonderful (and wonderfully patient) wife. 

Then, there is Movember. Movember is an annual charity fundraiser in which men from all over the world shave their face clean on November 1st and then grow a moustache for the entire month, the whole time raising awareness and money for men’s health. This is my 3rd year participating in this event and while not even the cats will come near me for the last half of the month, it’s for a great cause and I’m glad I participate. 

Finally, November is National Novel Writing Month as defined by The Office of Letters and Light. Every year they issue a challenge to writers everywhere, experienced or aspiring, published or not, good or bad: Write a novel (50,000 words or more) in 30 days. Their tag line for the challenge is “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon,” and is referred to on The Internets simply as NaNoWriMo and this was my 2nd year participating.

Over the course of the month I experienced many highs and a few lows but when it was all said and done I have to say that it was one of the more successful Novembers I’ve had in a long while. I am not talking about the milestones or experiences either. It would be all fine and dandy if that was all there was to it, but it just so happens that I’ve learned a few things along the way. It is because of this that I can truly say the month was successful.

A few things I have learned:
  • My kids do not like daddy with a moustache
  • I have a very beautiful, intelligent, and supportive wife
  • I can grow a very creepy looking moustache in 30 days 
  • I can write a novel in 30 days
  • There are millions of people who want to raise awareness and money for men’s health
  • There are millions of people who write, many of them are writers, and a very large number of those people are awesome

It doesn’t stop with just those items either. Oh no, there is more. In fact, I could go on for several blog posts, but I’ll spare you the time to read all that and just give you the highlights here.

A few other things I have learned:

  • Writing is hard
  • Writing is easier if you have awesome people around you  
    • This is true for more than just writing. ANYTHING is easier if you have awesome people around you
      • This is where I have to point out that my wife, my friend Susan, everyone in The Lounge on Facebook, and my core word sprint team of Janelle, Amy, Jennifer, and Karen, really helped me out. I can’t thank them enough for their support (but I will try)
  • It is possible to do everything you want if you manage your time properly
    • I suck at managing my time
      • NaNoWriMo helped with this more than I would have thought

Last year I had an event derail my NaNo efforts mid-month and I never got back on track. I could have, the thing only upset my flow for a day or two, but I didn’t. I cut bait on the whole thing and spent the next 11 months kicking myself and in a rut (writing wise).

This year’s NaNoWriMo experience challenged me in ways I never thought possible. For starters, let’s take time management. Here are a list of all the things I managed to do in November and approximately the number of times or hours I did them:

  • Eat (1.5 hours/day)
  • Sleep (8 hours/day)
  • Commute (1 hour/day)
  • Work (8 hours/day)
  • Prepare food for family (1 hour/day)
  • Practice guitar with the kids (20 minutes/day)
  • Swimming lessons (1.5 hours/week)
  • Guitar lessons (1 hour/week)
  • Watch movies (2.5 hours/week)
  • Watch TV (2 hours/week)
  • Put up the Christmas lights (once ~3 hours)
  • Attend concerts (Stars & Metric: ~5 hours to get there, watch, and get back)
  • Hockey games! (2 of them: each about 4 hours to get there, watch, and get back)
  • Anniversary dinner (~4 hours to get there, eat, and get back)
  • Snow tire appointment (~1 hour)
  • Dinner out with wife and kids (~1 hour)
  • Dinner at in-laws + Santa Claus Parade (~5 hours total)
  • Take kid to dentist (~ 1.5 hours once)
  • Parent/Teacher interviews (~ 1 hour once)
  • Lydia Herrle’s homecoming (~1 hour once)
  • Social events (~5 hours over two events)
  • Quiet time alone or with my wife (none of your damn business)

Even with all of that, if you do the math (and trust me, I did the math) I end up with more than an average of 5 hours per day of available time. I wrote an average of 2 hours a day on weekdays and 4 hours a day on weekends and I still have a couple hours a day unaccounted for. Even if I low-balled the math on the above items that means I still had some free time.

So there you have it. It is possible to do everything you want and still do a lot of things – and not be selfish about it (if you’re like me and my friend Tess you’re not shellfish about it either). The key is in managing your time. With a little forethought, discipline, and help from your friends… the world is your oyster (or non-oyster substitute for those with allergies).

NaNoWriMovember: The Video!


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