Today I’m taking a “me day” because I’ve started to wear down. I was crazy productive last week because I was riding that NaNoWriMo/writing the climax/caffeine high and I was crazy. But what happens when you spend a week staring at a computer screen writing and doing nothing else? You burn out.
I made the classic mistake of pushing myself too hard and not giving myself enough time to relax. I can feel it in my neck too. My muscles are way too tense and it’s giving me really bad tension headaches. And my biggest problem when I work myself too hard is that in my exhaustion, I oversleep to compensate. So rather than staying productive, my brain shuts down and it becomes too difficult to focus.
I was good for a little while because I’d reward myself when I reached my goal (which was usually writing a chapter) by reading for a bit or watching a new episode of a tv show. And I know exactly when everything changed. I went on Hulu to watch the new episode of one of my shows only to discover that there wasn’t a new episode. I had all this excited energy to burn and nothing to do with it, so instead of finding some other way to spend my break, I turned back to writing. I got three chapters written that day, which is awesome, but I kept riding that productivity wave and stopped giving myself time to breathe.
And now I’m sitting here curled up in a ball in front of my computer with a really bad headache, a can of Dr. Pepper, and a heating pad on my neck to try and relax. All because I failed to pace myself.
That’s my only real problem with NaNoWriMo is that the pressure drives us insane so quickly that we suddenly find ourselves unable to function. I did get a chapter written yesterday and the day before, but not very quickly. It took me almost the entire day to get the words down on the page rather than a few hours.
Thinking is hard work. My post about how hard writing is from last week was crazy popular because of how relatable it is. All our work is in our minds, which is why it becomes so difficult. When we’re wrapped up in our minds, we forget to take care of our physical bodies.
I can’t possibly count the number of times I’ve forgotten to eat meals because I’m “too busy writing”. Or when I’m hungry but don’t want to take up too much time, I snack on candy rather than actually eating healthily. How many times do we forget to leave the house and go on a walk to get away from our computers (or notebooks) for a few brief moments.
The easiest way to prevent burn out is to do the simple things that we often forget to do when we’re writing. Going for a walk or sitting out in nature for a little while allow us to reset our minds. It changes our scenery if only temporarily which can clear up all the clutter blocking our minds.
Eat healthy snacks rather than choking down as much sugar as humanly possible. It gives you better energy and focus. Sometimes all we need to do is calm down with the caffeine and regulate how much we’re actually dumping into our bodies. Eat an apple or a piece of toast instead of cookies or candy. One thing I forget to do way too often is drink water. Our bodies and minds need plain old water to function. Make sure you have enough.
Pamper yourself! Put on your pajamas and lay in front of the tv so you can refill your creative energy. Try a new haircut or style. Get a massage or pedicure. Take a bubble bath. Whatever it takes to keep yourself happy and healthy!
The biggest mistake writers make is not taking care of their bodies or getting an adequate amount of time away from writing to keep their minds clear and sharp so that they can keep writing. Get away from yourself for a few moments. Go breathe some fresh air and see some new sights. Take care of yourself! Treat yourself right! Only then will you take care of your mind so you can keep writing.