Being an author can be thrilling and is always a great conversation starter – I’ve had entire tables of strangers asking me questions and genuinely intrigued by my career. However, what people often don’t talk about is the toll writing can take on an author/aspiring author. It can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining and, of course, there is the dreaded writers’ block.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” Hemingway once said.
Many seem to think we just sit in coffee shops scribbling stories and wander down country lanes musing about our latest ideas. Well, sometimes I do those things but during my authoring days there are lots of other things to do and I also have a full-time career as a book editor and author coach.
No matter when you decide to begin writing your first book or whatever platform you do it on, there are things to consider to make your journey more pleasant. There are also many, many, too many in fact things you can do to make it much harder. Take the upcoming NaNoWriMo for example which is literally a writing race to the finish line.
There are, of course, hours and even days when I will be so caught up in writing or editing that I forget to go and make lunch or it’s well past time for dinner when I finally stop to have something. But during NaNoWriMo, this fast-paced, nonstop, writing process is every single day for an entire month!
Forgetting to take care of yourself is practically a certainty. Self-care is important, especially during times like this when you are going to put your mind, hands, and soul through something as unforgiving as NaNoWriMo.
In fact, you need to take extra care to make up for the extra stress and added pressures during this month of writing.
11 TIPS FOR SELF CARE DURING NANOWRIMO
- Set up a schedule and try to stick with it
- Pace yourself
- Step time away from your laptop/notebook
- Praise others and don’t compare your daily word counts
- Always remember it’s okay to write nonsense
- Make time to eat well
- Be social – this means with other NaNoWriMo people and with your friends in the real world
- Treat yourself when you hit a goal and have something to look forward to at the end (whether you hit your target or not)
- Keep your creative space clean and tidy
- Remember, taking part is still writing, you are still on your author journey regardless of whether you finish by November 30th.
- Consider what is going to be practical – can you write 2,500 words every single day or perhaps 5,000 words every second day, or write in 15min sprints in the morning, on your lunch break, and in the evening. You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing, figure out a writing system that works for you.
And if you follow all or at least some of the tips above, you’re more likely to take further action towards editing, publishing, and marketing your book next rather than chucking it in a drawer because you need a mental break from it! Furthermore, you might even want to do it all again next year and write another book and turn this into a career – who knows! The fact is, it’s your experience so make it a good one.
NaNoWriMo isn’t just about getting all the words on paper (or screen) to finish your novel in thirty days — it’s also about the experience, the connections you’ll make, and having fun too. So share, connect, give each other support, feedback, and help keep each other accountable so everyone can get across the finish line together. After all, it is so much more than just a novel.
If you want even more advice, here’s a great selection of links to help you stay healthy as you work on your latest project.
1: Carving out time in your schedule to write – six tips on finding time in your existing schedule so you don’t have to get up a dawn.
2: Self-Care for Writers – Chuck Wendig’s self-care advice for authors on areas like avoiding stressful media.
3: Too Tired to Write – some simple advice on keeping yourself focused, energised, and mentally able to get the work done.
4: Why Writers Need to Maintain Their Mental Health – Health Writer Hub’s article covers the mental health side of things
5: Health Tips for Writers Who Don’t Get Enough Exercise – Mental health isn’t the only thing to consider. Writing is a sedentary activity, and it’s easy to overlook your physical health when you’re in the zone.
6: Morning Routine – Jeff Goins gives an example of his morning routine, and you can even use this as a guide to develop your own good daily habits.
If you’d like some advice on marketing your book as a self-published author then make sure to sign up to my mailing list. I’ve spent two years researching this subject and have an upcoming book launching soon so you’ll get notification of its release. There will also be tips in the newsletter and upcoming blogs with great advice.