I know I am not alone when this part of November hits and I start to feel overwhelmed by it all. It isn’t just the writing (although that is a big part of it), it is also work, the house, my family, and other commitments. Keeping the balance for the month of November is like juggling cannon balls while riding a unicycle.
I think most people are busy people. We have jobs, school, families, charities, books to read, sports, and whatever else we shoved onto our plates. When you add writing a 50k novel to the month things are bound to get overwhelming. The kitchen is a mess, the laundry has taken over the bedroom, yours kids want more time, and you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. Below are a few things I do to try and keep my sanity. As always your mileage may vary.
1.) House work helpers
I am lucky enough to have a husband who tackles the majority of the house work for the month of November. I still try and unload the dishwasher each day. I also try and fold the clean laundry and get it put away. He does more than his fair share for the month though. My young son also enjoys cleaning if you catch him at the right time, so yesterday he vacuumed the kitchen, entry, and stairs for me. In short if you don’t live alone get the others in your family to pitch in. You can return the favour the next time they have a big deadline.
2.) Leave work at work
When I leave work at the end of the day, I don’t think about it again until I get back to my desk the next morning. My biggest project of the year overlaps with NaNo, but I don’t take the stress of it home with me. My job is my job, not my life. If you are in school or have a job that has to follow you home, do you best to separate your work and home time. Do as much assignment work at school as you can. Don’t respond to emails that are fine to wait until the next day when you get to your desk. A lot of your free time is going into writing. Don’t let yourself stall by handling tasks that really can/should wait until you are back in the office.
3.) You are very behind on your writing
This can be the cause of a lot of NaNoWriMo stress. I wrote a post earlier this month about How to catch up if you’re behind. If you’re behind, but still think you can make it, check it out. The most important thing at this point is to keep writing. Even if you don’t win NaNo you will learn a lot about yourself as a writer if you keep writing for the entire month. Sometimes the journey is worth more than the destination.
4.) You want to write, but have no idea where this story is going
This is the one that is causing me the most trouble this year. I am trying to embrace the challenge. Most (all?) writers go through a ‘this sucks’ phase. The last week I have been stuck in it. The only solution that works for me is to push through it. I write anyway. I constantly remind myself that it doesn’t really matter if these words suck. I can go back and edit them later. Plus the only way to get better at something is to practice. When it comes to writing the practice can be painful, but I hope it will all be worth it in the end.
5.) Don’t forget to take a break
Sometimes the fastest way to get a few thousand words is to walk away from your computer for a while. Go and handle one thing from your mile long to do list so you feel a little less overwhelmed by your life outside of writing. Do something relaxing like read a book, or take a bath. NaNoWriMo should be fun at least part of the time. If you have lost the fun, take an hour off and find that joy in another activity. When you get back to your computer you will have a fresh outlook, and hopefully some new words.
How is your month going so far? What about NaNoWriMo makes you feel overwhelmed?