NaNo Survival Guide: Self-Care and the NaNo Community

NaNoWriMo is a fun-filled month and a formidable challenge. With all the excitement buzzing, it’s really easy to throw yourself full force into writing. Last week, I offered WriMo’s some suggestions to increase productivity, but I should also emphasize that it is important to take care of yourself. No goal is worth compromising your wellness. And, especially in the case of NaNoWriMo, the sacrifices you make might end up backfiring and keeping you from meeting your daily targets. I’m no doctor, but I am a NaNo veteran who has overdone it in the past. Here are my suggestions for how to take care of yourself during this crazy challenge:

 

Keep Your Sleep Schedule

You will be tempted to drink a bunch of coffee and stay up all night to write. DON’T. You’ll feel like crap and weaken your immune system–making yourself susceptible to early winter colds. The few extra hundred words that you produce from staying up late aren’t worth the days of writing missed when you are sick in bed with the flu (trust me, it has happened to me in the past). And, chances are, when you stay up late, you’ll either be so hyped up on coffee or overtired that you’ll end up watching old re-runs of The Twilight Zone and not actually writing. Like The Tortoise And The Hare, when it comes to NaNo, “slow and steady wins the race.

Drink More Water Than Coffee

I’m a fiend for coffee as much as the next writer, and nothing is an excuse to indulge in too much coffee as productivity. DON’T. It’ll mess up your sleep schedule, which as I mentioned before, is key to your NaNo success. Try to remember to keep hydrated and drinking water (or maybe some decaf tea) in between your cups of Joe–or at the very least, keep to your usual dietary and wellness habits that keep you healthy all the rest of the year!

Take Breaks

There has been a lot of news in the past couple years about how harmful it is to sit. This has posed a conundrum for office workers and computer users, and NaNo participants are no different. Aside from the stress sitting puts on your vascular health, repetitive stress from typing at the computer (or writing with a pen) can cause long term ailments like carpel tunnel syndrome or arthritis. Every so often, take a break from the novel to get some fresh air. (Bonus tip: Nothing helps inspiration like a change in scenery. You might find the answer to your writers block when you have a minute away from the story!)

Make Friends

One of the best parts of NaNoWriMo (aside from testing your endurance and drafting a whole novel) is the community. Whether online or in person, there are countless opportunities to connect with other WriMo’s. If you’re feeling stuck, discouraged, or if you have some tips that you want to share, reach out! We are here to help each other, and celebrate the craft of novel writing together!

 

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