If you are fast approaching middle age, live in the suburbs somewhere, and have a kid or two, it is likely that you have either been invited to or attended what is called a Pampered Chef party. (Pampered Chef sells high-end cooking utensils and so forth. They employ consultants to give parties- like Tupperware.)
It was at a recent Pampered Chef party that I first heard the term “Power Cooking.” Intrigued, I asked what power cooking meant. There are actually crazy people who spend a full day cooking meals to freeze and eat over the course of 2-3 weeks. Power cookers insist this saves them loads of time and money.
Of course, it takes preparation. One cannot successfully spend a day power cooking without planning what meals to make hauling massive amounts of groceries home from the store, and of course, detailing a course of action to complete the cooking of meals in the allotted time required.
The concept behind Power Cooking reminds me a lot of the concept behind NaNoWriMo. So often, I dilly-dally throughout the day only to discover that it is 6:00, and I have yet to thaw the chicken for my enchiladas. The same happens with my writing. Poor planning equals stressful 7-day weeks where I am searching for ideas and staying up late to get ‘er done.
At first, “Power Cooking” sounded like cheating to me. Cooking, in my mind, is a daily process that involves things like simmering and braising and dicing- things that take up a significant amount of time, each day.
But- what if you could accomplish all of those things in one day and reap the benefits for days and days after? What if my enchiladas tasted just as good 10 days after I made and froze them than if I had made them just an hour before consumption?
Get ‘er done. That’s the goal. Because my enchiladas taste a thousand times better than a McDonald’s cheeseburger. And seeing the product of two hours of solid writing time? There’s nothing like it.
I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I tried last year, and I got my character stuck in a basement. She’s still there. I should have spent time preparing: outlining, fleshing out my characters, giving them dreams and aspirations and routes out of basements and other dark places, and of course, allotting time each day to get ‘er done.
It is amazing what can be accomplished when you set your mind to it. If you have the novel in your head, spewing it out onto paper is often a faster task than we make it out to be. A novel CAN be written in a month.
And when that first draft is finished, you can make necessary changes. (I may not eat enchiladas on a Thursday, but rather on Friday. Also, I will embellish the enchiladas with sour cream and the homemade salsa that I had time to make because the enchiladas were already done.) Move chapters around. Ditch the cloying female character who adds no substance to the story. Edit and fix grammatical errors. Change the beginning. Change the ending. Throw in some different spices. (I.e.- conflicts or surprising twists.)
There’s a lot to be said for power writing.
If you are participating in NaNoWriMo and find yourself lagging behind, I urge you to take a couple of hours and plan out your course of action. Gather your ingredients, form your recipes, and create a timeline. Then, get power writing.
Get ‘er done.