One of the things about NaNoWriMo is that November comes around and suddenly at least half, if not more, of the blog posts in your inbox are about NaNoWriMo. People’s wordcounts. The status of their plot (or lack thereof). Their woes and excitement. I mean, maybe it’s just me because I mostly hang out with other writers, but it’s everywhere, right?
And, like, I don’t object to that. I’m interested in NaNo and I like to hear how other people are getting on. But I can imagine there are some people out there who see a post about NaNoWriMo and are like, “Seriously? You too? I don’t care!”
(Maybe I’m just hyperaware of this because I follow a few people on Twitter and Tumblr who are actively fed up of NaNo-related content, either because they personally dislike it or because they would like to participate but can’t because of health stuff and thus it brings up bad feelings, which I can totally understand.)
And so this post is not about NaNoWriMo. Because enough people are writing about that. And also because there’s nothing much to say except that I’m nearly at 30k and I’ve yet to figure out what my plot is, so that’s… something.
No, instead, here are all the other ways I’m managing to procrastinate this month that don’t involve writing.
1. Going to the gym
I’ve been at Newnham for three years and I’ve never made use of the college gym. It’s not very large, but it’s got the basics (cross trainers, a treadmill, a couple of rowing machines, etc etc), and it’s free — all you have to do is have a quick safety demonstration and then you’re good to go. I decided that I should make the most of it: it’s my last year with access to this free gym; I need to work on my cardio fitness for Irish dance; and it will give me a way of exercising that isn’t annoying to my neighbours. I’ve been twice now, and although I wouldn’t say I’m a convert to that gym life, I feel like I’m getting something out of it.
Also, today I ran on the treadmill for 7 minutes solid at 10km/hr — at the end of my session, so I was already tired. I’m hoping I can work up to running for 15 minutes by the end of term, and it’s my lung capacity rather than my legs that are going to be the main barrier there, because I am bad at breathing.
Despite my efforts to eat more healthily, I am still very fond of biscuits and cake. And unfortunately, gluten-free biscuits and cake are extremely expensive. GF ingredients are not much cheaper, but there are still some savings to be made, so I’ve been getting into the baking. This year’s the first year I’ve had a kitchen that’s large enough for baking while being shared between few enough people for it to be practical (since the only other student kitchen I’ve had that was big enough was shared between fourteen people and I got poisoned a lot).
So far I’ve made flapjacks (dairy free and gone in about two days), biscuits (also dairy free, gone in about three days), and cakes (not entirely dairy free, but reduced dairy from the recipe; those haven’t gone yet because I only made them yesterday). I’m trying to experiment with using vegan margarine in my baking because my body is not happy about digesting dairy these days and it would be good to have baked goods that don’t include it — though I’ve yet to find a milk substitute I can drink, so when they call for milk in the recipes I’m sticking with it for now.
I’ve also been trying to be more inventive with my meals — and healthier with it, by using fresh ingredients rather than processed ones (e.g. a chicken breast rather than chicken nuggets). This is part of my ongoing quest to eat more protein, because dance and also general health. I’m still mostly lazy about food but I figured out how to make a pasta bake with lentil pasta, chicken, and vegetables — that worked well. And today I made a massive mountain of egg fried rice with chicken and veg.
My diet is mostly eggs and chicken these days, to be honest. I need the protein and it also turns out I’m B12 deficient, but since I’ve had to drastically cut down on dairy, I can no longer rely on cheese or milk as a source of protein. So, eggs it is. And lentil pasta. SO MUCH LENTIL PASTA.
4. Cutting my hair
I do this periodically when it gets too annoying, and since cutting one’s own hair with scissors is extremely difficult, it ends up being a super short clipper cut. I decided to get it done now so that if I screw it up, it has time to grow back before Christmas. I think it went okay — I’m just extremely fluffy now.
I have now stress-knitted four very bright stripy squares for my eventual blanket and started on a fifth square, using considerably less bright (but still multicoloured yarn). I bought a bunch of different balls of yarn of varying shades; they’re all the same brand, so at least the texture will be unified, even though it’s going to be a colourful monstrosity.
I’ve had to cut down on the knitting, though. I’ve had a fair few bad pain days lately: the cold weather has arrived (it dropped to five degrees while I was out earlier, though I haven’t checked it since getting home) and I’m feeling it in every single one of my joints. I ordered a pair of compression gloves, designed for people with arthritis, as I’ve heard they can help with hypermobility — if nothing else, they’ll keep my hands warm, since the cold is making typing extremely painful. But they haven’t arrived yet. When they do, I’ll hopefully be able to get back to the knitting.
And also to the writing, but I said I wasn’t going to talk about that.
So those are the things I’ve been doing instead of work (because anxiety! And pain! And procrastination!). There’s been a bit of TV watching, but shockingly little reading, because I just haven’t been able to concentrate enough to get into any books, whether they’re fiction or work. It feels like the lines won’t stay still on the page: they’re shifting all over the place and I can’t make them stay still. I’m hoping that goes away soon, because I have a lot of stuff to get done…
What about you guys? Whether or not you’re doing NaNoWriMo, how are you procrastinating these days?