I love NaNoWriMo. Having a goal, a deadline, and a sense of community with other participants is a great feeling. But NaNoWriMo can become an all-consuming beast, and that’s not a healthy state for creatives.
Instead of letting NaNoWriMo become your one and only priority this November, here are some ways to make time for your other hobbies and still hit your writing goals.
If you’re a writer, it’s probably safe to assume you like books. But reading can be kind of time-consuming, and if you have the time to read, shouldn’t you be spending it writing instead? Not necessarily. Reading is a great way to refresh your creativity, fall back in love with good writing, or simply relax.
- Alternate reading a chapter of a book with NaNoWriMo word sprints. This kind of multitasking can be a lot of fun, especially if they both have lots of cliffhangers!
- Listen to audiobooks while commuting or doing chores.
- Do you like challenges? Pick shorter books (less than 200 pages), short stories, or comics/graphic novels and try to read one a day. This might sound like too much during NaNoWriMo, but the feeling of accomplishment when you finish a book can really help offset some of the NaNoWriMo blues, especially mid-month.
Drawing, painting, photography, papercrafts, and other expressions of art often get put aside when we feel too busy. However, these non-writing creative outlets are so important to keep in contact with. Forcing yourself to write exclusively can be damaging to your creative process, and will make you feel resentful toward your NaNo project.
- Take a page from Inktober and create a list of art prompts. Even a very simple, 5-minute piece can be mood-enhancing.
- If you’re a bookstagrammer, be sure to give yourself some time to take new pictures and update your feed. If you don’t have a posting schedule, make one just for November so that you have some personal accountability.
- If you don’t have a lot of time, energy, or resources to create something, decorate your writing space. Tape some cute prints to the wall, change your computer’s background, put new items on your desk. Pretty spaces are much more inviting.
- Go hang out on Pinterest for a bit. No book-related searches or story aesthetics. Just scroll and pin and take a little time to feel refreshed.
NaNoWriMo takes a lot of energy, and your body needs to be fueled. If you enjoy being in the kitchen, this can be a fantastic way to take a break and think about something other than character quirks and plot twists.
- Plan a Month of Soup and try a new recipe every day. Getting creative with the side dishes is part of the fun!
- Read or write while your baked goods are in the oven.
- Stock up on your favorite writing snacks, but maybe try something new, too! Variety will keep things interesting.
- Share a meal with friends and/or family. Writers can often put themselves into solitary confinement during NaNoWriMo, so some face time might help you feel more like a real person.
- Treat yourself for big milestones! Make a favorite treat, or buy in specialties. Does victory taste like cinnamon, or chocolate?
If you like to be outside, the idea of spending all day every day writing probably doesn’t appeal. A little fresh air and movement is always a good idea anyway, so make sure you have an exit plan in place for when nature calls. Just be sure to pack a notebook along for when inspiration strikes.
- Write outdoors or in a partially-enclosed area. A change of location can be just as refreshing as the natural elements themselves.
- If your neighborhood is a nice place to walk, consider a quick victory lap around the block between scenes or sprints. It’s good exercise, plus, you’ll have time to plan what happens next.
- Write by an open window. If going out isn’t an option, at least let some fresh air in.
- Many joggers and runners swear by voice-to-text programs, which allows them to get writing in on-the-go. A good option if you’re not a butt-in-chair kind of writer.
- Walk with a writing friend. Brainstorming together during NaNoWriMo can be incredibly helpful and encouraging for both parties. Plus, walking will help you shake some of that writerly saddle-soreness.
What are your hobbies, and how do you make time for them when you’re busy?
Find me here if you want to follow my progress or join in on group word sprints!
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