We’re well past the first week, and you’re getting an idea now of what the rest of the month is going to be like. I’m not talking abou you, Writer, but your partner. Yes, you, Writer’s friend/lover/spouse/child/parent. “Manic” is often a word people like you – the companions of writers – use to describe behavior of their beloved.
- The despondency of not knowing what to write next (think Sesame Street’s Don Music pounding his head against the piano: “I’ll never get it! Never!”).
- The haunted look in the eyes at the end of a long day at work when the writing has yet to be done.
- The thing you told them about while they were writing that they acknowledged and yet had no memory of (my partner, bless her, knows not to tell me anything important while I’m writing).
- And of course the moment at 11:30 when the Writer, a deranged smile on their face, prods you awake to let you know in between triumphant giggles that they figured it out, the answer was mushroom unicorns, obviously…
Husband: “Did you write today?”
Me: “Not yet.”
Husband: “Okay. Well, if you want to do that, I can do my own thing.”
Me: “But what if I don’t?”
Husband: “What’s wrong?”
Me: “Michael is being a complete douche and I’m kinda pissed at him.”
Husband: “When did you talk to Michael?”
Me: “The CHARACTER Michael not our friend Michael, god.”
Husband: “Oh. Well. How is he being a douche?”
Me: “I DON’T KNOW I HAVEN’T WRITTEN THE SCENE YET.”
Monica nails it: we writers do feel bad about the month of neglect that is November, but often in the throes of the act of creation we miss little hints that the relationship might be suffering – the sound of suitcases latching, doors slamming, and the car driving away. We do eventually notice – right around December 1 – but still, that’s not a great way to celebrate your success.
But the act of caring for the Writer in their natural environment can be rewarding much in the way maintaining a saltwater aquarium is: a lot of trouble, kind of tricky, but beautiful, in the end. So here are five suggestions for ways you can show love during the month:
Loving the Writer:
- The Magic Cup: Odds are there is something that the writer drinks to fuel their words. There is little as aggravating as being in the middle of a creative streak and finding that the cup runneth dry. Magically refilling (or reheating) their cups may not be noticed right away…but at a certain point it will be, and it makes a writer feel cared for.
- The Passive-Aggressive Snugglenote: You may want to hug your partner during this time, but the problem is that the act of hugging can become one more obstacle they have to overcome between them and the keyboard. They’ve already had to overcome the fear of the empty page, fatigue, distractions…so instead, leave little notes: I’m proud of you! Or You’re really sexy when you’re writing. Or Way to go, Writer! Put them on the mirror in the bathroom – so when they give themselves that look, that What were you thinking? look, instead your note is there to remind them they are loved.
- The Surprise Playlist: You probably have some idea of what kind of music your writer listens to when they write. We live in a time when it’s amazingly easy to create a mixtape (or even just the idea of one) and there are even pre-made ones you can find online. Just remember that the Muse is a strange one, and don’t be offended if your mixtape is turned off in favor of going back to listening to Dancing Queen on repeat. That’s why God invented headphones.
- Chocolate: This may be a literal suggestion (if their idea of heaven is something like the Land of Infinite Oreos) but it’s also a kind of archetype – it’s the thing that they crave, that they go to when they want a treat. Natasha knows mine; a hot fudge sundae on warm brownies. It’s not healthy, no, this is comfort eating – luckily, NaNoWriMo doesn’t last long enough to make it a habit. You know what it is they like – surprise them with it when you see them sagging at the keys, or trudging wearily from the bed to the cruel blank page. Reward them with it when they are chortling with triumph at their literary wit. Feel free to bribe them into “just another 500 words” with it if needed – there’s an entire category of job based around manipulating writers into producing words, and there’s no reason this can’t be your month to play “agent”.
- The Guardian of Solitude: Stolen wholesale from one of the greatest writers, this is kind of a strange one: come up with ways you can both be doing your own thing together. That means reading a book instead of turning on the TV, playing one-person games on the X-Box, or anything that means you are doing your thing while the Writer does theirs. Instead of creating temptations and distractions, it gives a sense of shared workspace. It helps eliminate the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) as well as the GOFONIOY (Guilt of Focusing On NaNoWriMo Instead of You). Plus they don’t feel completely cut off from their life – they can look over and see it waiting there for them when the word count is done.
Use these as inspiration – you know your writer better than anyone, and with a little effort you can turn this month into a mutual triumph.