As you know, NaNoWriMo is well underway… and so far, I’m setting a personal record for how much I’ve written up to this point. I wanted to try and finish the novel within the month, and I might actually do it… or at least just about finish it. It’s great, but I’ve learned a few things already about my working habits, being an ML, and writing this story…
1) Three write-ins a week is too much.
Now I know why even the bigger regions only tend to have two every week! Or, if they schedule more than two, the ML doesn’t kill his/herself trying to get to all of them. I wanted to make sure I could accomodate everyone by having so many write-ins at multiple times, but it’s really just too much for me. It’s a lot of time away from my home, husband, regular work, and other hobbies. Two a week would be perfect, especially since each one runs for three hours. I know better now for next year.
2) When I get stuck… I don’t have to keep doing the same thing.
Earlier this week, my story was stalled. Drastically. I had no idea what to do next, because I wasn’t connecting properly with the MC. So, what did I finally figure out? I decided to change POVs. I decided to tell the story from the POV of another character, and so far, I’ve unstuck myself. During edits, I don’t know that I’ll choose to keep this in, or if I’ll change the whole story over to one person or another, but in the meantime… it’s keeping me writing, and that’s what matters.
3) I need to take breaks.
If I’m writing and really in the zone, I’ll forget to stop and eat. I won’t stand up and stretch, and I think – if my eyes are any indication – I won’t blink as regularly as I should. Health professionals recommend that you get up and take a break from your computer every hour… two days ago, I stared at my computer screen for nearly 6 hours non-stop, and ended up with a very severe tension migraine to show for it. It’s still not gone. The last time I got one of these stress-induced headaches, I had to cancel a vacation and take a ‘stress leave’ from work/life for a few months. Pretty sure it was the same thing this time, and I really can’t afford to take a break… so, moral of the story…
Slow down, take breaks, and don’t push yourself beyond what your body can handle.
Yes, I know it’s NaNo, and yes, I know we’re all gunning for 50k… but please, don’t give up your health or endanger it just for the sake of word count. Be good to yourself, and get up and walk away from the screen every once in awhile. If you just have to keep writing, grab a pen and paper and write that way for a little bit.
I know we’re only halfway, but I don’t want anyone to come to the end of the month a nervous wreck or suffering from carpal tunnel because they typed for five hours straight without stopping, seven days a week. Or with an iron deficiency. Or migraines. Or any form of sleep deprivation.
Please, take care of yourself. As an ML this year AND a participant, I didn’t realize how much more I’d be pushing myself, and it’s taking a toll. Even if you’re not doing NaNo this year, take care of yourself.
Have some tea. Sit in silence and breathe deeply. Pray. Watch the leaves fall, and smile at the antics of squirrels as they scramble to stock up food and build nests for the winter. Pet your cat, or take the dog for a walk. Bake some cookies and brainstorm about your characters. Then get back to writing.