Friday, November 11, 2005

Day 11: Endless cravings

Okay, let's get down to the real nitty-gritty about this whole NaNoWriMo business. What kind of junk food (and how much) does it really take to crank out a novel?

When I started NaNo'ing on November 1st, I had an absurd supply of leftover Halloween candy: candy that I had bought and then failed to hand out because I (stupidly) forgot to turn on my porch light on Halloween night. So since no Trick-or-Treaters thought I was home, none ventured up the steps to my underlit, apparently creepy house.

For me to have conveniently packaged bits of candy lying about the house when I'm writing is a bad idea. I'm not one of those people who can ration my treats: I'm one of those people who will snack incessantly until every morsel of food is gone. So yes, I've already managed to eat my way through that absurd supply of leftover Halloween candy, finishing the last of it yesterday while I was home sick. That means today I'm left to NaNo in a depressingly snack-free household, and I'm still too tired/sick/lazy (you chose the adjective) to go to the grocery store.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not starving here. I have enough food to survive until I go grocery shopping sometime over the weekend. What I'm lacking, though, are munchies. I've no cookies, no crackers, no chips, no pretzels. I have a bar and a half of Burdick's dark chocolate for true emergencies...but gourmet chocolate is meant to be savored, not inhaled by the fistful. What I'm currently craving isn't good, fine chocolate: what I'm currently craving is Distraction Food, a sub-category of Comfort Food that you can eat by the bag- or bushel-full and then feel really, really bad afterward. It's this Really Bad Feeling that's the goal, believe it or not, because such food-inspired discomfort subsequently distracts you from the wretched pile of prose you're cranking out under its influence.

So, while I just passed (somewhat begrudingly) the word-count I "should" have reached yesterday, my mind now is fixating on the various sorts of Bad-For-Me foods that my Inner Glutton somehow thinks will make the writing go Faster and Easier. Between you and me, I know that gorging on snack food is not a good recipe for writerly success...and it surely isn't good for my waistline. But right now, my Inner Glutton isn't listening to reason, and instead she's chanting a litany of crisp and salty delights: Pringles and Doritos and Cheez-Its, oh my!

Instead of dashing out to buy the sort of junk food delights I would have gorged upon during my carefree undergrad days when everything would have been washed down by the neon-glow of buckets of Mountain Dew, I think I'll pop a bag of Smart Balance low fat, low sodium microwave popcorn; pour myself a tall glass of sparkling water; and KEEP WRITING. Sure, the life of a 30-something health-conscious So-Called Novelist isn't much fun compared to my junk food-inhaling days, but I hate to contemplate what my backside would look like, come December, if I were to continue my early November diet of All Halloween Candy, All The Time. Yes, I plan to be in this Life game for the long haul, even past I guess that means being smarter with my writing distractions.

So, what sorts of bad-for-you foods (or bad-for-you habits) do you indulge in when you write, and what (if any) concessions to Good Health have you made to curb your cravings?
Word-count: 16,981

Last line: Whoever this Paul character was, Alexa decided, her spending time with him was an exceedingly bad idea.


At 11/12/2005 2:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Junk food? Who, ME?

This, in my definition, is the height of absurdity ... watching The Biggest Loser on TV, while munching on (dare I say it out loud?) Cheetos. Sorry, didn't mean to flaunt my orange-tinged fingertips in the face of your cravings! But I did catch myself the other day, and then was appalled at the incongruity of the moment.

What comfort foods do I cling to when in the writing mode? Almost always something with SUGAR (be it candy, chocolate, or even fruit-flavored icies or smoothies). I thought when I gave up smoking years and years ago that I got over the habit of associating a particular action with smoking (such as talking on the phone); little did I know that I would have to break another habit before too long - eating and typing at the same time. I try to keep food AWAY from my keyboard these days, but somehow or another chocolate still shows up on the periphery.

Glad to hear you're feeling a bit better ... how about cooking up the infamous pot of chicken soup? Rummage around in the freezer and see what you find?

Keep hanging in there ... your word count is still admirable, especially considering the "under the weather" days.


At 11/12/2005 8:48 AM, Blogger Lorianne said...

Oooh, yeah...I'd forgotten about Cheetos! :-)

I think you're right when you talk about the urge to eat while typing: for me, it's almost a nervous tic to want to be nibbling on something.

That's why having popcorn did the trick for me last night: although what I "wanted" was junk food (something salty and/or sugary), simply having something to nibble on between words was "enough" to quell the craving.

So I guess I'd better get out to the grocery store today & stock up on lots of microwave popcorn (*and* more chicken soup!)

At 11/12/2005 10:30 AM, Blogger Devon Ellington said...

The harder I press on my writing, the more intricate and elaborate and healthy meals I cook.

Cooking is how I take my breaks, how I reset the noise in my head.

In other words, I'm eating better during NaNo than when I was on set for the TV pilot last month.

At 11/12/2005 10:36 AM, Blogger kenju said...

I'm not writing a novel, but I do like to munch popcorn while I am blogging.

If I were writing something mroe serious, I have to do some heavy carb-loading, I think.

At 11/12/2005 12:02 PM, Blogger The Misanthrope said...

I can't eat and write. Writing takes all my concentration, so I don't think about eating unless it's to procrastinate before writing or a reward for writing.

At 11/12/2005 12:05 PM, Blogger Lorianne said...

Devon, I wish I were more like you! If I were, I'd be much healthier & in better shape, for sure!

I used to enjoy cooking: like you, I found it to be a welcome *tactile* break from intellectual pursuits. But now that I'm cooking for one, I find it more difficult to motivate myself: why bother making a whole meal for "just me"?

(Hmmm, I'm making a mental note to work harder on that: surely I deserve home-cooked meals even if *I* have to make them myself!) :-)

kenju, my "snack while writing" habit started in college, when I was writing papers that were "only" about 5 pages long. So I don't think the length or "serious" nature of the project makes much difference: it's the habit of using food as "pause" between words that seems to be key in my case.

I guess I should be glad that I don't pause to *drink alcohol* as I write, otherwise NaNoWriMo would be a surefire recipe for alcoholism!!!

At 11/12/2005 12:08 PM, Blogger Lorianne said...

Hey, looks like you & I were on commenting at about the same time!

I *wish* I could focus single-mindedly when I write, but I seem to be a "dabbler" when it comes to writing. Unless I'm 100% on fire with an idea, I'll pause a bit between sentences. It's not long enough to "really" think, mind you...but it's just long enough to grab another handful of whatever snack's at hand, chew, and then type the next sentence.

I guess it would be like folks who *smoke* while writing: every sentence or so, you stop to take a drag...

(Luckily, that's a habit I never acquired & thus never had to break!)

At 11/13/2005 7:59 PM, Blogger leslee said...

I can recommend Cheeze-its - the self-medication of choice in my family, indicated specifically for the treatment of intense studying or odious writing projects of all kinds. Other dispensation is off-label, but feel free to experiment. For best effect, they should be refrigerated. I prefer the small boxes, that way each new one is fresh, and that does tend to limit the overdose factor that is a sometimes adverse effect of the Cheeze-it Big box.

Black box warning: Cheeze-its can be addicting and the addiction can be passed along to succeeding generations. My nephew, son of a Cheeze-it eater, has the nickname of Eddie Cheeze-it. And his name isn't even Eddie.

At 11/13/2005 10:30 PM, Blogger Lorianne said...

Oh, I love Cheez-Its! When I was a child, we used to feed them to the deer that were penned at a local park, which of course in retrospect horrifies me. Lord knows what sort of nutritional damage we did to those poor captive creatures!

But *self* medicating is a whole other story. :-) I'd never thought to *refrigerate* the suckers...


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