Don’t forget self care during Nanowrimo

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200This will actually be my second year in a row not participating in Nanowrimo–I’ll be busily editing some of the novels I wrote in the 10 Nanos before that–but I know there are close to half a million writers around the world preparing for their own attempts. Many have cleared their schedules, stocked up on snacks and caffeinated beverages, and done extensive writing exercises to prepare for the month ahead. You may even be one of them.

One thing you probably haven’t thought about much is self care. It’s something we tend to forget at the best of times, so why make time for it during what may well be the biggest creative challenge of your life?

Well, let me answer a question with a better question: have you heard of post-Nanowrimo blues? It’s a gloomy, hazy feeling many participants get for one to three weeks after November ends, created partially by the sudden lack of activity on the Nanowrimo boards and partially by creative burnout caused by reaching the end of the marathon.

Different people experience this feeling for different amounts of time and to varying extents, but the experience is so common that there are endless threads about it every year in the Life After Nanowrimo forum.

This foggy, unproductive two or three weeks may be fine for someone who has no intentions of building a full writing career, but if you want to do this writing thing for a living it’s an incredibly long time to be away from your work. You’re already struggling to keep writing time in your daily schedule, you need to do everything in your power to make sure you’re inspired when the time actually comes.

You may not be able to completely prevent creative burnout but you can dramatically reduce the risk of creative burnout by making time for self care. Even an extra twenty minutes of stretching, meditation, reading, or anything else that calms you down can make a huge difference in your mental outlook for the day.

Self care should be scheduled into your daily routine, even in months when you’re taking on a big challenge like Nanowrimo. Cherish it as much as you do your writing time, because when the mental haze settles in you’ll find yourself staring at a blank page for an hour instead of doing your daily writing.

So this Nanowrimo, promise yourself two things: that you will put all of your creative energy into your novel for the month of November, and that you will still make time to relax.

Do you regularly write self care into your schedule? What do you do for self care? Let me know in the comments section below!