NaNoWriMo Week 2: What Not to Give Up

Last week, I wrote a post with tips for clearing more time for novel writing. This post is the counterbalance to that one — these are the things I recommend you DO continue to make time for, even in the midst of your novel-writing frenzy. You’ll be glad for the investment once the madness is over in December.NaNo Logo

  • Exercise – If exercise is a regular part of your life, try to keep up with it during November. It’s been a couple years since I read No Plot, No Problem, but I have a vague memory of Chris Baty suggesting giving up going to the gym during November. Here’s why I disagree: You are using your brain SO MUCH to write your novel. Your body needs a little bit of attention — but more than that, getting your body moving is a great way to process what you’re writing.
  • Sleep – There’s a whole NaNoWriMo culture based around excessive caffeine consumption and deficient sleep during November. Don’t let it pull you under. I’ve never pulled an all-nighter or suffered sleep deficiency in my 5+ years of NaNo-ing, and I don’t plan to start. If you are well rested, your mind will work better — and you will write better. Plus, you’ll be less likely to get sick, and getting sick can really slow you down.
  • Time with family and friends – You may need to scale back on your social commitments to find time for writing, but don’t neglect your most important relationships entirely. Do talk to them about what you’re doing — hopefully they will be supportive and understanding (I’ve been very lucky in this arena). Even better, see if you can convince them to join the madness with you! But the bottom line is, if you want a relationship to endure long past November, make at least some time for it now.
  • Dependents – If you have children, pets, or other living entities that depend on you for their mental and/or physical well-being, don’t shirk your commitments to them. My dog doesn’t care that I’m writing a novel this month — he still needs his walks. (Admittedly, he gets shorter walks, but that’s partly because of colder weather.) If you have kids and you have a partner, family, or friends who are amenable, November might be a good time to ask for a little extra help. I don’t have kids so can’t offer a ton of insight on this one — but if I do have them, I’ll check in in a few years about how to make this work! (I do have a friend who is a mother and doing NaNo with me, and she’s cruising right along.)
  • Your paying job/school – Sigh. Although taking some vacation time to work on your novel is perfectly acceptable, don’t fall short of making your expected commitments to your job or school. Unless you have a good backup plan (and the novel is NOT a good backup plan), you’ll want these things to still be there when November is over.

Remember, it’s only one month! Writing your novel will take a lot of your time, but not ALL of it. Be judicious about what you do with the time that remains, and it is possible to emerge sane and recognizable at the end of it all. Really!