(Read Part 1 or Part 2)
7. Committing to a schedule/plan to keep healthy & sane
Over time, I’ve seen the wisdom of starting my writing day with morning meditation and prayer time, a half hour or so. Along with my coffee, of course, and lots of water–I’ve got half-gallon sized pitcher on my desktop which my Beloved refills for me every morning, no kidding. (And no, you can’t have him.) Besides being good exercise for the soul, this practice clears my head and helps me focus. Fact is, I sometimes get my best plot ideas while praying or meditating.
Did I mention coffee? French press, specifically?
During bathroom breaks–often enough when you go after the coffee and water the way I do–I throw in a bit of upper body stretching and strength training using a 5 lb barbell. Not much, granted, but it keeps the blood circulating and I think better.
On days I head into the coffeeshop, I get a 2.5 mile walk. On days I don’t, I try to get at least a mile in around the neighborhood, or else an hour’s worth of yard work and gardening. I’ve learned my lesson! Two days in a row without this sort of exercise and I feel terrible, can’t think straight, and often can’t get to sleep at night.
8. Setting up my reading corner.
When in the middle of a writing sprint, I try to do a bit of reading about writing every day, and certainly during NaNoWriMo. But not too much. There’s a danger for some of us of overthinking the first draft, like a literary Hamlet. (This is an issue with me, I do confess.) The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to get that crappy first draft down, come hell or high water.
In my case, since I have about a third of the novel I’m working on already drafted, my goal is to get another 50K words of the rest of the novel. I’m thinking more motivationally, and my favorite writing book of that type is Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art. If you haven’t read it, and especially if you have issues with Writer’s Block, lack of focus, or lack of confidence, this book is priceless.
9. Repeating my NaNoWriMo mantra, over and over:
Write fast and let that first draft be as shitty as it needs to be.