Do we have any Chopped fans who read this blog? For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it is a game show on the Food Network. Four chefs get a basket with four ingredients and have to make an appetizer in 20 minutes. One gets chopped. The next round, four more ingredients, 30 minutes and dinner. Chop. The last round has the final two chefs competing with four more ingredients and 30 minutes to make dinner.
Time is one challenge. But the other challenge is the ingredients. They are, mildly put, challenging to combine into a cohesive and palatable course. An example from Episode 62:
- Appetizer: New Zealand mussels, Bosc pears, marula liqueur, frozen waffles
- Entrée: root beer schnapps, lap cheong, squash blossoms, ostrich tenderloin
- Dessert: puffed rice cereal, horned melon, cashew butter, gummy worms
And so, I submit that NaNoWriMo is my Chopped. First, there are time issues. You have to get it done, if you are playing by the rules. Now, I admit that I have already punted on the rules. At my current pace, I am not going to hit 50,000 words. Since I decided to use NaNoWriMo to finish a manuscript I last looked at a year ago, the numbers could be fudged a bit and the process will still be a success. But still, time is ticking.
And the ingredients are what they are, and you have to use them. There is no time to mull during NaNoWriMo. I find myself typing a name, and then putting a &&& in so that I can go in later and make sure it is right. There are a lot of &&& for me to search in December. The goal is a draft, and I add it all. No editing.
Once I made this connection, I started to have fun. So I get frozen waffles one day? Make it work. A scene takes me in an unexpected direction? Go with it. A new character makes an appearance? Welcome aboard. The cobwebs are being shaken out, and something is getting written. What that something is–I’ll let you know in December.
J.A. Hennrikus is the Executive Director of StageSource. She is a mystery writer who recently has a new story, “Her Wish” in Dead Calm, an anthology by Level Best Books. She is a huge social media fan, and tweets under @JulieHennrikus.