Michille: Recipe for Writing

Maple Glazed Turkey DinnerSpecifically, writing for NaNoWriMo. And I have discovered a couple of things while using NaNo to get back into the habit of daily writing. The biggest discovery is that I can’t do it without changing my routine. I have had some very successful writing days, which for me is about 3,500 words, but every one of those days this month have either started at 4 a.m. or the family is scattered so I don’t have to bother with dinner. I’m not a fan of getting up at 4 a.m., but I work full-time and exercise (and make dinner most nights) so there’s not a lot of free time in my day.

I was on a writing roll on Sunday morning. I got up early. Not at 4 a.m., but around 6 a.m. and everyone was still sleeping so I wrote about 1,700 words and planned to get back to it in the afternoon. But there was the planned 6-mile hike with my cousin, a trip to the grocery store, football which I combined with prepping some Thanksgiving side dishes, then dinner prep, dinner, and clean up. And THEN I could sit down again to write. The roll had turned into a lump and I struggled to put a couple hundred more words on the page, but was too tired to do much more than that.

Let me get back to my successful days.


  • Quiet time
  • Cleared sofa
  • Pile by folders, pads, pens, post-its
  • Laptop
  • Tea
  • Chakra candles (I know they’re totally legit because I bought them at Five Below)
    • Muladhara (Root for energy and productivity)
    • Svadhishthana (Sacral for creativity)
    • Anja (Brow for wisdom).
  • Minimum of one scene idea


  • Snuggle down on sofa
  • Place laptop on lap (clever name for that device)
  • Write for one hour
  • Break to switch loads of laundry (or empty dishwasher, or . . . )
  • If there’s time/more ideas write for another hour
  • Examine notes written during that session or previous ones for ideas to percolate until next time
  • Count words
  • Input into spreadsheet
  • Pat self on the back

As for actual American Thanksgiving day, we start with a Turkey Trot, so if you’re reading this around 8 a.m. EST, I’ll be getting ready to run 3.1 miles to earn my feast later today. And, by the way, it’s to be the coldest Thanksgiving in 20 years – 22 degrees (feel like 13 degrees) at race time. Brrrr!

Another Thanksgiving tradition in our house is Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes. They can be prepared up to two weeks in advance to take some of the pressure off the actual day.

9-12 large potatoes, cooked and mashed with a mixer
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. sour cream
2 tbsp minced onion
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 ½ c. grated cheddar cheese

Spray 13×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients, except the cheddar. Pour into prepared baking pan. Top with grated cheddar. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

P.S. Leftovers make awesome potato soup.
P.P.S. It freezes well (don’t top with cheese if freezing – add prior to baking)

And, by the way, I counted these words in my NaNo count.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate and Happy fourth Thursday of the month for those who don’t.

9 thoughts on “Michille: Recipe for Writing

  1. Sounds like you’re what Allie Pleiter would call a “big chunk writer”–you write a lot of words, but you need the right space and a chunk of time.

    The potatoes sound awesome (and like they require running three miles to earn).

    I laughed aloud when I read you were including this post in your word count. If I counted the email words I write everyday, I think I’d NANO every month.I’m a chatty correspondent.

  2. My mom used to make something just like your refrigerator mashed potatoes, only using frozen hash-browns instead of potatoes. It was a standard Easter dish, along with ham and overlooked vegetables.

    As for counting your post towards today’s word count- sounds totally reasonable to me (and I may have done so in the past myself). Words are words. 🙂

    • Totally reasonable. Yes, it is. It’s words. And it was time I could have spent on my story. I’m still behind and I didn’t get much writing done on Thanksgiving. I hope to get a lot done over the rest of the weekend. I do have lots of story ideas, which is the good news. The bad news is that we are off to Philadelphia today and tomorrow for Thanksgiving with the in-laws. Probably not a lot of time to write. Sigh.

  3. I love the mashed potatoes…I’ll add them to my recipe arsenal for next year.

    I think I’m like you when it comes to writing…a big chunk writer, as Jeanne mentioned. My husband actually just came into my office to give me his ideas for the day (it’s Friday, after Thanksgiving) and I basically shot down my participation in all of them, telling him that I am going to get in a few hours of writing today and he could take the kids and do whatever he wanted to with them and his brother, but to leave me out of it. Plus, we’re waiting for a shipment of wine today that requires a signature of someone over 21, and I am making sure that there’s an adult here at all times (I missed the delivery on Wednesday). Which is another good excuse for me to stay home and write. 🙂

    Hope you’re able to squeeze in some more writing time this weekend…maybe hubby can drive while you get to work on your laptop? That should be a couple of hours, at least.

  4. What you say here really rings a bell for me. Something has to give — and a few early morning sessions probably would be quite good for me.

    Although honestly, I just don’t know what to do for December. That “cleared couch”? Yeah, I really should devote time towards cleaning and decluttering so I have a nice space for writing. I’ve also started exercising lately, and it’s helped me focus on other things quite a bit, as well as helped with my health. So, I won’t be cutting that. Maybe December and January should be about clearing the decks; February is often a good writing month for me. The sun starts to come back, but I’m still stuck indoors for much of it!

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