Just a few more days to go, folks, and I don’t know about you… but I’m struggling. I’m less than 5,000 words away from my first ever NaNoWriMo win and I’ve begun to wonder (constantly) if it’s even worth it. Clearly, I’ve got a bit of self-sabotage going on here and yes, I’m determined to work through it. But I also need to be honest with myself. Part of that mental ho-humming comes from some serious creative and emotional fatigue.
I’ve been running near empty for awhile now. Once upon a time (in the beginning of the month, which I vaguely remember) the words flowed freely. I’d sit down at my computer, pound at the keyboard for awhile, and feel joyous shock when (a) a whole hour rolled by unnoticed and/or (b) I managed to effortlessly exceed the day’s word count.
That is sadly no longer the case—far from it, in fact. These days, writing feels much like climbing a mountain of pudding. I find myself staring into space, agonizing over where to go with my story. I resort to going backwards in my draft and adding tons of adverbs that will only come out again in later revisions. I’m updating my word count in painful increments… 87 words here, 102 words there. And yes, every word counts. But this is not the “flow state” I was hoping to achieve at the beginning of the month. Nor does my writing feel like a sustainable practice I’m adding to a rich, well-balanced life.
Don’t get me wrong. A whole hour can still roll by unnoticed. But I often spend that hour doing ineffectual research or anesthetizing myself with a “quick” trip on social media… anything to avoid the tedious work of trying to figure out what happens next in my story.
Clearly, my brain is telling me that I need to take a little break. But if I want to return to my work rejuvenated, then whatever I do has to feel like a peaceful pause… and not like guilt-inducing procrastination. Here are some sanity-preserving activities I plan to reincorporate into my life this week:
- Move my body. Just standing up to stretch can help, but working out or doing yoga would be truly restorative.
- Go outside. Fresh air tends to clear the cobwebs from my heart, soul, and brain.
- Enjoy free family time. I’ve been losing unscheduled hours with my family, and it won’t hurt my writing to claim a few of those back. Quite the opposite, in fact!
What about you, fellow writers? What helps you to rejuvenate and recommit to a project? How do you plan to power through these final days of NaNoWriMo? I’d love to hear your thoughts!