If NaNoWriMo Was a Fitness Challenge
Writing a novel is arguably one of the most gruelling of endurance sports. We write and write and write, only to scrap what we wrote and write it again (and sometimes again!) to make sure that the message is accurate to our vision, the characters live up to their challenges, the story engages the reader, and more.
As a writer going on such an intense/exhausting/exhilarating/inspiring (choose your adjective) journey, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. After all, you’re wearing all the hats on this project. If you’re not there to do the work, no one else is going to pick it up for you. Here’s a little friendly advice about how I take care of myself during NaNoWriMo:
Writing as working out
I like to pretend that NaNoWriMo is a fitness challenge instead of a writing challenge. If I were participating in a workout challenge, I’d need to make a special point of caring for myself, body and spirit, to keep from losing ground. Some things I’d make sure to do:
- Vary my workouts. It can exhaust the muscles to work out heavily every single day. I usually do about 3-4 heavy days (1+ hours of training, or in this case, writing), 1-2 lighter days (30 minutes to 1 hour), and 1 day of complete rest (more on this later).
- Fuel. When you’re working out, you need to eat right to fuel your body. All the strenuous activity you’re engaging in will take its toll. The same is true of writing. When you’re feeling stuck, it can help to read pieces of writing that inspire you. Whenever I’m feeling uninspired or my writing sounds flat to me, I like to read a specific novel that originally inspired me to want to write mine (for me, that novel is Outlander).
- Rest. Because November is so short, it may not be possible to rest completely for a whole day, but it can help to give yourself the occasional day where you allow yourself to rest your mind and forgive yourself for not performing at the top of your game. But this doesn’t mean that you should turn on Netflix and simply give up; one of the keys to taking a “rest day” is that you still do something (I’ll break this down for you in my next post).
Do you ever think about NaNoWriMo as a fitness-related activity? Sometimes just the metaphor of considering it to be a “race” helps me stay focused on the goal. Writing a novel is hard work, and November is an opportunity to do some of that hard work with the support of a great community of writers who are doing the same work. What are some ways you like to think about NaNoWriMo as a means of helping you get to the end?
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