They are incredibly important for thriving during NaNoWriMo.
You gotta establish one.
Why? Because creating a routine for yourself can help you with consistently getting pen to paper on a daily basis. And more importantly, getting the 1667 daily word count down with a lot less resistance than you would without a routine.
Now, if you’re a writer who can easily buckle down and write those 1667+ words, then massive praises to you because I envy you. However, if you’re a procrastinator like me, or just someone who needs a little extra push to get motivated, then this post is for you.
So here’s a routine that worked for me and why engaging in these particular activities helped me stay focused when writing for NaNoWriMo last year. Mind you, I didn’t follow this to a tee, as it did waver from time to time, swapping one activity for the other when it didn’t work out.
1. Do something physical!
What normally worked for me was doing yoga in the morning. whether I woke up at 5am ready to take on the day with all the motivation in the world, or 12pm feeling a bit of resistance toward writing (because it got harder over time), yoga helped me keep my body from feeling restricted.
Since writing is normally an activity you do sitting down, you can risk cutting blood flow throughout your body and letting muscles tense up being in the same position for extended periods of time. It’s important to get a stretch and/or full work out to keep your body active because the mind and body affect each other. They are not mutually exclusive, and one cannot work without the other.
After getting all stretched out and sweaty, I would then take an ice cold shower to invogorate my senses.
This sounds scary to some people, but I assure you I didn’t start off cold right away, that would be too shocking. It’d be warm water for the hair and skin care part of showering, and then when that was done I would turn the knob down a bit until I felt a jolting chill go throughout my body.
If you have worked up a sweat from your work out, the cold shower wouldn’t be too hard to settle into. Actually it’s pretty refreshing and teaches you to slow down your breathing in order to endure.
This challenging of the self to withstand discomfort primes you to withstand the discomfort of writing. Not the physical part, but the mental part as I’m sure you will find yourself focusing on nothing but how freaking cold the water is.
2. Eat some gooooooood food!
I have phases where I prefer pancakes in the morning, scrambled eggs with home fries, or a simple bread with spread, along with the complimentary coffee.
After yoga, I would feel incredibly hungry and much able to really enjoy my meal, again getting my mind off writing and focusing on nurturing myself first.
Then the coffee of course is the staple drink of writers, whether you pound back pot upon pot, or need one little mug to get you going. It feels good to have something warm and tasty to sip on while I wrote.
Whatever it is for you; coffee, tea, or even a smoothie, get a drink or snack that you can sip and/or munch on while you write. This creates the association in your brain that that drink goes hand in hand with writing. Literally.
Write your ass off.
No further words needed.
4. Treat yoself!
As I said in my post last week, you gotta treat yourself!
Whether you pump out 5000 words or 500 by the end of your writing session, be sure to reward yourself with your favourite recreational activity.
For me it was gaming! I liked playing Brawlhalla, something that requires mostly muscle memory and reaction speed to play, as opposed to anything else that would be intellectually daunting.
For you it might be playing with your children if you have some, or binging your favourite show on Netflix. For others it could be hanging out with some friends and partying.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something easily available to you so that you can prime yourself to expect it at the end of a writing session.
5. Be kind to yourself.
And as always, this post is about self love at its core.
Writers put a lot of pressure on themselves to write compelling fiction and often doubt themselves if what they’re writing does not match the ambition they have in their head. We often feel imposter syndrome thinking “who am I to write this story?” Among another myriad of typical self doubting thoughts I will cover next week.
But for now I will leave you with this suggestion to form a routine.
You obviously don’t have to do yoga, eat what I eat, and play video games like me. And it doesn’t have to be in this order. You can even go far as to treat yourself first if you feel like you can honour that self indulgence with a productive writing session.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you can manage on mostly everyday you possibly can, and brings you the equivelant joy and motivation your NaNoWriMo project deserves!