NaNoWriMo Tips: What if I Need a Break?

Welcome to the third post of my NaNoWriMo tips series. For other tips in this series, as well as a schedule for future posts, take a look at the links below. Today’s tip and my discussion of it can be found immediately below the schedule.

Welcome to day 6 of your NaNoWriMo adventure. If you’ve been working on your story since day 1, you’ve almost reached a full week of writing a novel. That’s pretty exciting. Regardless of if you’ve written every single day or if you’ve only written here and there since the start of the month, there’s likely a question that’s crossed your mind.

When can I take a break?

There’s a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer can be summed up in a single sentence. Take a break when you need to, so long as you’re mindful of finishing your story1If that’s your goal, that is. Which I assume it is if you’re six days into NaNoWriMo..

The long answer is a bit more complex. First and foremost, life happens. There’s going to be things that come up that keep you from writing exactly when you want to every day that you want to. Maybe you have a doctor’s appointment, perhaps there’s a work engagement, or maybe there’s an extremely important election that you should totally go vote in if you’re in the USA2Hint. Hint.. There’s going to be things that cause you break your writing schedule whether you like it or not. This is part of why I wrote the post about the importance of using your weekends effectively before I wrote this post.

The deep, dark secret to writing, and in turn to winning NaNoWriMo, is that you must realize it’s a delicate balancing act. One on hand, you draw from experiences to help you write your book. Even if your book takes place in a fantasy world, little bits of you and people you know will work their way into characters in the book. It’s just what happens. Without that, books can become hollow and meaningless as you write them.

On the other hand, NaNoWriMo is likely not the most important thing in your life. Your mental and physical health should be your top priority, even if you really want to complete a project like NaNoWriMo. Taking a day or two off here or there isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the project. It may give you some time to develop a fresh perspective on a scene you’re stuck on, potentially helping to end a bout of writer’s block3I’ll talk more about writer’s block later in the month.. You might just need a break to get some much needed sleep or some real life responsibilities taken care of. It’s okay.

If you actively plan to build in rest or mental health days into NaNoWriMo, that’s fine. Just be sure to adjust your words per day pace accordingly. Every day you write zero words means that there’s 1,666 words that will need to be written at some other point in the month. Whether those are split up or all tackled in one day is up to you. Just don’t drive yourself crazy trying to write your story. Trust me. The story you’re telling may do that for you without your trying4We’ll talk about that too…Thursday..

Like my NaNoWriMo tips series? Have questions for me about the topics posted daily? Do you just want to talk about your story and have nowhere else to do so? Leave a comment and join the discussion.

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