Follow Up: Is It Possible to NaNoWriMo with a Newborn?

Months ago, in the time I refer to as "pre-Forrest," I wrote a little post about attempting NaNoWriMo the month after Forrest was born. At the time, I really felt like NaNoWriMo was both possible and totally impossible. So much of it depended on "how things were going" with the baby and, as I've written before, I had no reason to believe I wouldn't have the absolutely perfect little darling newborn. 

I got a comment recently on that old post about whether I succeeded at NaNoWriMo. In November of 2015, I had fully planned to write follow up posts--but if you go back in my archives, you'll see I posted only 3 times in an entire month. So that's how that went. 

I realize, however, that I never actually wrote a follow up. So here it is, nearly a year later. My NaNoWriMo with a newborn follow up. 

Did I Succeed? 

When it comes to success at NaNoWriMo, the deciding factor is, obviously, did I hit 50,000 words? The answer is no, I didn't. So I failed. 

However, I did write about 20,000 words in the first 2 weeks of November. That is obviously Not the Goal, but it's a sizable enough number, especially given the fact that I was caring for a very fresh little human, pumping every 2 hours, and taking care of a house. For the first 2 weeks of November, Forrest still slept relatively well in his swing for naps, so I could squeeze in 30-40 minutes of writing before I had to hold him and watch TV. (Not that I minded.) By the second week, however, he was rebelling against the swing, so I took to wearing him in my Boba wrap to write. This worked reasonably well until he started to hate the Boba wrap, so I was relegated to the couch again. 

In November, Forrest was still quite small and sleeping a lot--like, most of the day. If I got a few spare minutes, I was eating or making another pot of coffee or trying to clean up my house. I stopped worrying about NaNoWriMo and thus, gave up on it. 

I got about halfway there, which is farther than some people get. And, full disclosure, I also pumped about 800 ounces of breast milk in November, so who's a failure really

What I Learned

Life is nothing without lessons. Whenever I don't do as well at something as I expected, I try to at least take some kind of lesson from it. So, if you're expecting a baby and thinking of attempting NaNoWriMo with your newborn (or just-out-of-that newborn stage baby), here are my suggestions: 

  • Be realistic. Not every baby will nap independently as a newborn. Some babies are great sleepers, but poor eaters, which means you have to keep a diligent eating schedule. If you are having your baby right before November, you have no idea what kind of baby your baby will be, so set realistic goals for yourself. 
  • Know that you'll be exhausted. This goes without saying, but if you have a few spare moments to sleep, you'll take them--versus writing.
  • Get a good wrap or baby carrier. I love my Ergo (I wish I'd gotten it instead of the Boba wrap). I still wear Forrest for naps in the Ergo now. It's easy to sit and work, or wash dishes, or do all kinds of things while you baby wear. 
  •  It's ok if you don't "succeed." Realistically, you might not hit the goal, but if you try, you've still at least tried something
  • At the end of the day, flexing your creative muscles, in whatever capacity you can, will keep you feeling human, even when your life is taken over by the tiniest, meanest boss you've ever had. 

Have you attempted NaNoWriMo with a newborn or young infant? Tell me about it on Twitter @michellelocke_