NaNoWriMo: Avoiding Mid-Month Burnout

Writing Confessions


Around this time every November, I get a little tired. A little worn. A little SICK of my story. Netflix starts calling my name. My brain goes fuzzy and will to keep going weakens. Family starts coming into town early for the Thanksgiving holiday. I have baking to do and decorations to put up. The initial NaNoWriMo high fades and I start to face the dreaded BURNOUT. Read on for my best advice (that I also need to remember) for how to avoid burning out and falling short this November.



I know this is a tough one, but I listed it first for a reason. Many of us are burning the midnight oil during NaNoWriMo–myself included–as we scramble to reach our word counts around work and family obligations. I get it. Really. But as we approach the home stretch here (and for U.S. writers, the Thanksgiving holiday looms with all those extra demands), sleep will become even more important. Now is the time to cut any remaining fluff from your routine and use that TV or computer or gaming time to sleep instead. You won’t regret it.



Okay, so sleep definitely falls under self-care, but there’s more you can do, too. Take breaks during your writing sprees (even just for 5 minutes) to refocus or take a few deep breaths. Take a warm bath. Reward yourself with a glass of wine. Drink all the tea. Get some fresh air. Be kind to yourself. Eat well, and don’t fall into the sugar/caffeine trap. You’re doing something incredible this month, but you’ve got to stay healthy. Trust me, finishing NaNoWriMo with the stomach flu is potentially impossible. As you race to your goal, don’t run yourself ragged. Your immune system will thank you.



Get some exercise, people! Again with the “don’t run yourself into the ground” advice, but don’t let that keep you from running at all! If you get stuck or blocked or overwhelmed, lace up your shoes and go for a quick walk or run. You might find that a change in scenery combined with getting your blood pumping is just what you needed to find the solution to your problem. Worse case scenario? You got some exercise. Win-win, ammarite? Check out this article if you don’t believe me. Sweating helps writing. True fact story.



As burnout threatens, it can be easy to take a day off. Then two. Then three. And before you know it, you’re so far behind on your word count that catching up is daunting, if not impossible. Now is the time to hold stead. Be strong. Push through. Fix coffee or tea. Sit down at your desk or on your floor or wherever you work best and just do the thing. Get started. The beginning is usually the worst bit. Don’t let the days slip away from you now. You’ve come so far already! Keep going! Unless…



You might need a break. Not want, mind you. I said need. If burnout is banging on your door and your brain is threatening shutdown…take a break. Skip writing for an evening and watch a movie with your family. Go to the mall. Have a dance party. Go on a date. BUT, if you do take a break, it must be a complete one. No agonizing over the time you aren’t spending writing. No mulling over plot points. Take a complete mental break. Dive in. Relish your freedom from the drudgery. And then get right back to it the next day. Don’t allow the exception to become the rule. Take your breather and come back refreshed. Just don’t forget to come back!



I don’t know about you, but around this time every year I decide that November is the longest month of the year…and also the shortest. Time drags and flies and MAN does Doctor Who start making sense right about now. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey…November. So while time is perhaps not on our side right now, our perspective should be. This article discusses things olympic athletes have to teach writers: Think Like a Champion.



We’ve made it halfway, ladies and gents. Get inspired, stay inspired. Let’s finish strong!



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