Surviving Living NaNoWriMo
I am thrilled and excited, vicariously, that is, by NaNoWriMo. Time does not permit my participation and thus prompted my thinking of time and what the participants of NaNoRiMo will be going through, which led to this post.
This is what I figure, this is a month of creating, not just the novel you are writing, but habits which will inform your writing life. So why not start as if you intend to continue.
1 Fuel up
Let’s begin with an obvious and necessary element. Remember to eat and eat healthy. I know from personal experience, the excitement of jumping into a project first thing in the morning and before I know it, it’s way past lunch time, starving, grumpy (yep, that’s me) and less than productive.
So, take time to eat – it provides fuel to the creative mind of yours.
Have enough sleep. Not catnap (though if you need to, go for it) but solid sleep by which I mean sleep when your body requires it in uninterrupted blocks of at least 4 hours.
Optimal sleep patterns improves consolidation and organization of information. When we sleep, our amazing brain works to ‘cement’ the links and correlation of bits of information, which means for us writers, after a good night’s sleep, the way ahead becomes clearer, and it increases our capacity to re-interpret information to reach novel, non-obvious conclusions. And that my friends, is creativity.
Sleep helps us to handle stress better. Seems most appropriate for NaNoWriMo, does it not ? 🙂
When you hit the metaphoric brick wall, or even when ideas and/or sentences are not forming as you please/wish, when you feel that frustration forming…stop. You probably know being agitated is not conducive to writing. Hitting your head against the wall can only give you a sore head… so do something else to get around that brick wall.
Stop and breathe.
I practice mindfulness. It is not so much meditation but rather a habit. It is a simple exercise but to master it requires practice.
Begin with this:- stay where you are, notice you are breathing, and focus your attention to it. Lengthen each breath … and feel the breath as you inhale and exhale. Yes, the plot is still bugging you, the characters don’t seem right… well, let those thoughts go by and pay no attention to them, but instead on your breath for 5-10 minutes. Once you feel calm and centred, you are ready to resume.
When you feel you are running out of steam, and you will no doubt during this period, move. Get up and stretch your legs. And while you are at it, don’t be a ‘walking worry’ or ‘stomping stress’. Alright, I stomp around when I am stressed, so I catch myself and re-set my system, often. Anyway, when away from the writing, go admire the flowers in your garden, frolic with the cats, cook a delicious meal savouring the aromas…do them mindfully that is, with attention. Don’t be distracted by the writing you’ve put aside intentionally.
I do mindful espresso making and drinking…there is something meditative about it. Perhaps I should clarify, I use a manual espresso machine and I love the manual process… it engages my 5 senses. Bliss! Not sure about the movement part except I do walk around my home with the cup of espresso, surveying my domain :-).
Any movement, large or small, re-energises.
For this month while it may seem counter-intuitive given you have to write 50,000 words, it is probably more important that you take time to engage with your community.
Connect with your fellow writers, within or away from NaNoWriMo. By all means talk about what you are doing, discuss your frustration or your ideas… Writers have always had communities. When we hang around each other, we get inspired, we feel a sense of solidarity and identity…it is in communities that ideas are generated and shaped.
Creativity takes shape in a social context, focused socialisation sparks creativity.
So, remember to spend time with your writing friends.
LIVE this month of NaNoWriMo as a writer would, don’t just survive :-).
Enjoy, revel and flourish!
Wishing you well
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