Lessons from NaNoWriMo 2019

November is over, and with it ends the joyous (and arguably masochistic) NaNoWriMo. This year, I set a goal of revising 50,000 words, and by the end of November I hit about 78,000. My brain says ouch. Here are my biggest takeaways from NaNoWriMo 2019.

Screen shot of my winning word count for NaNoWriMo 2019.
  1. I had to give myself the chance to improve. At the beginning of November I struggled to get through 3,000 words on a weekend day. Revision felt like running through sand. By the end, 4-5,000 words per weekend day felt easy.
  2. I had to take breaks, especially breaks incorporating physical activity. By the end of the month I developed a sense for when my brain had enough. At first, I’d try to push through, but my productivity tanked. If I took a break, especially if the break involved physically moving my body, I came back refreshed.
  3. I had to know when I wrote best and schedule my day accordingly. I know I write best in the morning. For the month of November, getting up at 4 AM meant sleeping in. On most weekend days, I got up, alternated writing and exercise for most of the morning, then spent the afternoon socializing and doing chores.
  4. Meditation helped. I also set a goal of meditating every day. Working on my meditation practice helped re-set my brain, much like exercise.
  5. I worked better when I left the house. It turns out I like interacting with Husbeast and Cat and lose focus at home. Additionally, something about a new environment re-sets my focus.
  6. When I couldn’t leave the house, it helped to make my house feel “new.” Usually I write on the couch.* When I started to feel cabin fever but couldn’t leave home due to scheduling conflicts, I sat at the kitchen table and lit a candle. For some reason this was enough to half-way trick my brain into thinking I was in a new location.
    *This is bad ergonomics. You should know better, you PT you!

Perhaps the biggest contributor to my success isn’t anything listed above, but rather that my life circumstances are very, very lucky. I don’t have children who need my help. I do work a day job, but only forty hours a week. I have the financial luxury to buy drinks at coffee shops and time saving convenience foods.

Now to go forth into December and write more!

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