5 Ways to Stay Sane During NaNoWriMo

image via nanowrimo.org

It’s everywhere. NaNoWriMo has begun. Something about this month makes me both excited and terrified. Excited, because I could write  anything; someone I know could write anything! Terrified, because it’s yet another commitment, another possibility to fail.

But  NaNoWriMo is meant to be a time of inspiration and opportunity! Instead, it’s sometimes the beginning of that slippery slope into slight insanity.  So, whether you decide to participate or not, here are just a few ways to stay sane this November.


1. Do an hours assessment
Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or not, it’s still so helpful to know where your hours are going. It’s simple. Add up the hours you spend on work, other commitments and daily activities, then see what’s left.  If you’re participating and you’re left with just a few hours before bed, you may want to consider waking up an hour earlier to write or dropping a commitment for a month. If you’re not participating, now is the perfect time to see what time-slots in your week you can set aside to write anyway.

2. Eat, sleep and do other things
It’s so vital to have a life beyond work and writing. How is writing informed by culture if you are not interacting socially? How is your mind sharp if your brain is parched for real, non-drive-through food? Sleep is a huge one. If you find yourself writing best during those wee-morning hours, then find another time to catch up on the zzz’s, preferably in the same week that the hours were lost. Let’s be real, as writers, we’re weird enough. We don’t need to be walking around hangry, sleep-deprived and socially-inept.

3. Use the resources
NaNoWriMo has tons of resources out there for their participants. Don’t be the closet writer. Sign-up, join the conversations and listen to the writer ‘pep talks’. You’re basically running a marathon, one word at a time, and who does something that crazy alone?! Look to those next to you for support. Let yourself feel the mystic awesomeness of doing something BIG alongside of fellow writers from around the world.

4. Stay focused
November is a crazy month as it is. Holiday shopping, Thanksgiving get-togethers and prep for the colder months to come. But if you decide to do NaNoWriMo, you’re going to have to force yourself to stay focused. Again, you still need to be human (eat, sleep, see people from time to time) but you can’t let other commitments and worries clog up your brain. Keep your eyes on the prize.

5. Don’t self-critique
Honestly, there is just not time for this nonsense. In all reality, unless you’ve been bitten by the creative bug or dreamed an entire novel one night, it will probably take you the majority of the month to simply write the thing. So keep your fingers to the keyboard and save the self-critique for December. You’ll most certainly need to re-visit what you wrote, but your goal this month is simple: write a novel!

image credit via nanowrimo.org

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