No matter who you are, 30 straight days of doing anything can start to feel like a chore. It’s less of an exciting thrill than it was when you first sat down with the intention to challenge yourself. Thirty days of writing is no exception to this.
As writers, we’re always writing… Something. (Even now, I’m writing this blog post, even if it isn’t technically for my novel.) But we would be remiss to tell people that we’re literally writing every day, and that every day that writing is substantial in some way. No matter your drive, your body and mind will tell you when it’s time to take a break and focus on something else. Your instincts work in overtime to help avoid burnout, even if we’re desperate to push through those safeguards. Usually we’ll bow out before a big implosion happens, but if you’re stubborn enough, you might fall into a bit of a crisis of stress and faith and lose all momentum altogether.
It’s absolutely okay to cry. Just remember, it’s not the end of the road yet.
There are ways to avoid burnout during NaNoWriMo, so I wanted to share some things that I did last year that are helping me this year not burnout.
- Be mindful of what your goals are before you start. Sure, most of us would probably love to say we wrote 50,000 words in the month of November, but you may have other ideas in mind for what your stretch goals and long-term goals are for the month of November. Plot that out. Plot it out even if it’s 50,000. Just know what you want. Make a chart or put it on your calendar to keep you accountable.
- Be mindful of what you need. Since writing 24/7 for 30 days isn’t feasible, make sure you’re taking care of your body while also sneaking in your word count around your busy schedule. Drink lots of water (still failing at this), walk to your favorite cafe or writing spot (if you can, for the added exercise), take some time a couple of times a week to make sure you’re doing at least light workouts to keep your body moving, eat as healthy as you can (save for Thanksgiving, eat up my fellow writing-minions), sleep a suitable amount. You may find that some days, when doing this, you run out of time before or after work or school to also get in the words you want. But your body will seriously thank you if you pace yourself and take care of yourself. Plus, it’s the holidays for a lot of us, so the pressure to eat a lot and stay bundled on a couch is turned up to 11. Don’t forget about taking care of yourself, too.
- Take breaks with friends and family. It’s easy to silo ourselves from the world for the sake of our stories! We need to get those words in, after all. But don’t be afraid to skip a day and spend some time with loved ones. Make sure your heart is as happy as your writing-brain.
- Write with friends and/or family. Some of us may not have people participating in NaNo, but we know them online, or we know them in our family. OR we just know people who create that aren’t participating in any type of challenge this month. Find those people and host small write-ins together. Heck, even if the person next to you is finishing that painting they’ve been holding off on while you type or journal away, just do it together. You can give each other praise, critique or just enjoy the mood music while you make it through your session with some familiar support.
- Pat yourself on the back. One of NaNoWriMo’s taglines is that only you can write your story. Even more than that, any words that you didn’t have yesterday that you do have today are an accomplish. Even if all you did was add a clause to a pre-existing sentence, you did something good for your story. Be brave enough to tell yourself that you’re doing great. Don’t let whatever usually holds you back keep you from acknowledging what you are doing.
The more you make sure to fit in these things, the less grueling your NaNoWriMo will be. And hey… If you’re out there, and you don’t think you have someone who will write with you… Leave a comment. I’ll be your writing buddy. ♡