by Kelsie Engen
Let’s face it, the writer’s life is unusually tough on our bodies. We struggle with our plot and characters so much and so often–usually at odd times of the day–so that we sometimes wake up more exhausted than when we went to bed. Then there’s the carpal tunnel you get from typing, the butt-in-chair syndrome from sitting too long, the weight gained from too many writing snacks, I mean rewards for writing, and the list goes on. Can I get an amen?
So how do we avoid this? How do we enjoy the writer’s life without these pesky health complications?
NaNoSurvival Tip #2 is simply this:
Treat your body kindly.
It’s the only one you get, you know? And I know that’s cliche, but it’s also very true.
NaNoWriMo participants have a tendency to live like this is college life and they are experimenting with binge drinking. They write as much as they possibly can, pulling an all-nighter just to get in 5K words or even 10K. Yay! You’re 10%, maybe 20% of the way there! You chill out, knowing you can do it again next weekend. Maybe you do and you get 20K written that weekend. Fantastic. You’re halfway there, and you’ve got half the month left. Perfectly on schedule.
But you know what’s “wrong” with that type of mindset? It assumes that life won’t get in the way. It assumes you won’t get sick, tired, exhausted, busy, or burnt out. It assumes that you can pull these all nighters whenever you want, when you know very well that’s not the case. (Okay, I’m sure there are exceptions to these “rules” I’m throwing out there, and if you’re a writer who literally has no other time to write, and this is how you’re squeezing it in, go you! Do what works for you. My warning is just to take care of your health first.)
My wish for you is that you reach the end of November enthusiastic about writing–still! And the way to do that is to treat your body kindly, to schedule your writing time, and to make it a daily commitment that can endure because it’s become a healthy habit, not a destructive one.
3 TIPS TO SURVIVE A WRITING MARATHON
1. GET SOME SLEEP!
I know writers participating in National Novel Writing Month are supposed to be crazed, sleepless zombies with their computers permanently attached to their fingertips, but IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. It really, really doesn’t.
If you followed Tip #1 (Tuesday) then you might have already recognized which days you have commitments and which days are going to be lighter. If you did, you have a heads up on which days you may not be able to write at all, and you should be able to adjust your word count goals for the rest of your days. I try to write on Thanksgiving, but it won’t be as much. I am usually able to pound out at least 750 words, and so that will be my goal, and I’ll adjust for the rest of the month.
2. DRINK LOTS OF COFFEE (AND WATER)
Okay, too much coffee may not be great for you, but I’m not one to lecture about too much coffee. Much of my life, I have existed in a coffee-induced writing coma. And studies show that coffee is healthy now. (Or maybe they reversed that again.)
But after you’ve had your daily quota of coffee (another pot over here, thanks!), drink lots of water. Plus, it will force you to abide by step #3, which is . . .
3. TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS.
Yep. If you drink lots of coffee, followed by lots of water, then you’ll be visiting the restroom an awful lot. And while that shouldn’t be the only kind of break you take, it will force you to step away from your computer and rest those fingers and mind, and stretch those legs.
Guest post contributed by Kelsie Engen. Kelsie loves to read and started her blog to share that passion with others of like mind.