Today is Monday, November 22: a week and a day until my NaNoWriMo deadline. I was “supposed” to write 4,000 words on the novel today, and so far I’ve written none. Typically as I approach a big writing deadline, I kick into Emergency Writing Mode. Regular habits like sleep, eating, and showering become not exactly optional, but wildly irregular. I eat when I remember to, shower when I have to, and sleep when I can no longer hold my head up. When I was an undergraduate, I had a body-abusing ritual that fueled my late-night, day-before-the-paper’s-due writing sessions. I’d sit at my desk with my typewriter (yes, one of those ancient relics), a hand-scribbled first draft, a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, and a giant bag of Doritos. Hours (and countless Meaningless Carbs) later, I’d have a finished product, the final paragraph of which always began with the word “Thus,” followed by whatever half-assed thesis statement I could crank out before the arrival of the due-date’s dawn.

It’s a bit too early in the race to pull a home-stretch all-nighter…and I do have Thanksgiving break to make up for lost words. But after having not worked on the novel since yesterday, I’m feeling my Muse (or is that caffeine?) moving within me. There is, after all, an all-night convenience store just down the street that sells Mountain Dew and Doritos, so it would be easy enough to grab the ingredients to inspire an impromptu appearance of the Midnight Muse. Thus, another writer discovers the Keys to Creativity, delivered via the agency of sugar and artificial colors, inspiration by the two-liter bottle or bagful. Watch where you tread, Gentle Reader, and beware: the Writer is at work!