Join award-winning author Nita Sweeney and other presenters and exhibitors at this health and wellness event.
Nita will present two programs:
Noon: Make Every Move a Meditation: How to Meditate While You Move
12:30pm: Depression Hates a Moving Target: Movement for Mental Health
Copies of Nita’s award-winning running and mental health memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target, will be for sale after the presentations and Nita will happily sign as many copies as you want!
National Novel Writing Month – You’ve Begun! How Do You Keep Going?
Fourteen-time NaNoWriMo winner Nita Sweeney offers motivation for your National Novel Writing Month adventure.
Congratulations! You’ve taken the huge step of signing up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and you’re in the throes of writing your novel. But what happens if (when?) the exuberant exhilaration wears off? How do you keep going?
Don’t panic! Whether it’s your first Nano or your fifteenth, time-tested methods will help you keep going once that initial excitement wanes.
For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month is an annual challenge in which writers all over the world attempt to write 50,000 words of fiction (1,667 words a day) during the 30 days of November. Other writers (like me) aka “rebels,” write in other genres, revise, or add to existing works.
Regardless of which challenge you have chosen, the following tips can help you keep up your momentum and cross that finish line strong.
Candy Bar Scenes
Coined by author and writing teacher Holly Lisle, the term “candy bar scene” refers to any scene you are eager to write. Writing such a scene is a reward. You get words down and you enjoy it.
If you feel stuck, take a few minutes to make a list of scenes you know must happen in the story. Bonus points if these scenes excite you and make you eager to write, i.e. candy bar scenes. Don’t worry if any of these scenes occur late in the book or even at what you believe to be the end of the story. Don’t worry about writing out of order. Especially if you use writing software like Scrivener or yWriter, but even with word, you can cut and paste or drag and drop scenes into the correct order later. Organization is what December is for!
Make the list. Then, whenever you feel blocked, grab one of those scenes and dive in. Often we’re only fighting inertia. Use one of these “delicious” scenes to entice you back into the work.
Community for NaNoWriMo Motivation
I’m writing this during the pandemic. For safety issues, NaNoWriMo cannot allow in-person events this year. In the before times (and hopefully in the very soon after times), write-ins allowed wrimos (people participating in NaNoWriMo) to gather and write side-by-side in small groups. The pandemic prevents that fun, but it can’t keep us from gathering online!
Be sure to join your local region. Municipal Liaisons (regional leaders) and other wrimos host activities on Discord and Zoom or other chat rooms and video conferencing platforms. Word wars and word sprints or just camaraderie to write together will help you meet your daily goal.
The NaNoWriMo forums may also help you get the work done. Stumped with your plot? Go to the borrow a plot thread. Trouble naming your character? Let someone else name her for you. Don’t know what the name of that thingie your villian uses to kill people? Head to the experts forum. Someone there surely knows.
A word of warning, however. Time you spend in any of these communities takes away from the time you have to write. Beware of time sucks and rabbit holes. Perhaps set a timer to limit how long you spend scrolling through the interesting forum threads. You have words to write!
I hope you’re already well stocked with writing “fuel” (books and snacks). Chocolate and meditation books are my favorites right now and I also need coffee and tea. But we also need to eat healthy foods. Remember to eat a vegetable once in awhile and some protein too.
Friends and family can help here. If they want to support your efforts, invite them to bring you snacks! Promise them you’ll help with the dishes . . . in December. Boundaries are your friends in November (and always).
Maintaining Your Writing “Machine”
In addition to eating a few vitamin-rich foods (or taking some vitamin tablets) during November, don’t miss out on other ways of keeping your writing “machine” in top shape. By “machine” I mean your body.
If you exercise regularly, do your best to keep that up. Exercise benefits mood and mind health and great character arc ideas might pop into your head when you’re out jogging with the pupperina.
If you don’t have a fitness routine, add a walk around the block or a stretching session between writing bursts. Who knows! The habit might stick beyond November.
Your emotions can use a strength session too. Five minutes of meditation or a ten-minute writing practice session can refresh you during the month. No need to complicate it. The simplest thing can have a great benefit.
Structure is Your Friend
Those write-ins I mentioned? That’s a structure. A ten-minute timer, another structure. Word sprints and word wars, yet another way to structure your time and get the words down.
Make It Your Own
Some people write best first thing in the morning. Others are night owls. Another group loves to sneak in a writing session on a lunch break. And you’ll find still another bunch writing in their cars in the parking lot while waiting for their kids to get out of school.
Find the time and the place and the mode that works best for you. Make no apologies. Part of the lure of NaNoWriMo is experimentation. It’s a safe space to figure out your best writing practices. Lean into those, and don’t let anyone dissuade you.
Share Your Tips
I’ve offered some of my best motivation tips. I’d love to hear yours. Comment here or buddy me on the website. I’m willwrite4chocolate. And check out my other NaNoWriMo blog posts. I’ll see you around the forums!
Nita Sweeney, author of Depression Hates a Moving Target will give a short presentation to the Northwest Columbus Christian Women’s Club. Contact the club for more information. Books will be available for sale and signing.
Back in 2013, I reported that sitting (hence writing) might be killing us. According to a recent meta-analysis, it’s too soon to jeer at your coworkers who haven’t jumped on the standing or treadmill desk trend.
Dr. Jos Verbeek from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health told NPR, “What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health.”
The study reports that standing desks were beneficial during the first year of use, but positive effects declined over time. Granted, this was a very small study. Researchers hope larger studies will determine not only the impact of standing desks, but of other potential changes.
Dr. Verbeek recognizes the largest problem: disinterest over time. “Changing behavior is very difficult,” Verbeek said in the NPR interview. He’s got my number there. I bought a standing desk in 2014, used it intermittently for about a year, then tired of it and sold it to a friend.
Instead of standing desks, Dr. Verbeek suggests placing the printer in a corridor that’s further away from your desk or make the one bathroom five flights of stairs up, and restrict use of elevators to people with accessibility needs.
I wonder how popular Dr. Verbeek is at his office!
“Go into cubeland in a tightly controlled corporate environment and you immediately sense that there is a malaise about being tied behind a computer screen seated all day. The soul of the nation is sapped, and now it’s time for the soul of the nation to rise.” – Dr. James Levine, Mayo Clinic
Writing is killing us. Well, writing itself isn’t killing us, but sitting at our desks all day hunched in front of our computers moving nothing but our fingers might be. According to one New York Times article, “Excessive sitting . . . is a lethal activity.” USA Today reported, “. . . people in sedentary occupations are at the highest risk of early death.” And How-To Geek put together a scary, statistic-filled infographic on the risks of so much sitting.
What’s a writer to do? Most of you have read (especially if you scroll to the bottom of my monthly newsletter and scan the “Paranoid Ex-Lawyer’s Release”) about my somewhat successful attempt to turn from couch potato into athlete. Unfortunately, the New York Times article cited above explains, “Exercise is not a perfect antidote for sitting.” The article continues, “Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin.” Sigh. And here I thought running a marathon was the answer.
The New York Times article suggests the treadmill desk. To use this device, a worker walks very slowly on a low-noise treadmill while working at the desk specially designed to fit on the machine. I don’t have one, yet, but it’s on my wish list. There’s also the standing desk which has been used by the likes of Hemingway, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Dickens. Everything old is new again! Given the space requirements and the price, I’m more likely to purchase a standing desk.
For now, though, I’ve simply instituted the “posture reset” policy. Every half hour, I get up, circle my arms over my head, touch my toes, and walk a big circle through the house or coffeeshop. I set the timer on my phone to beep (or vibrate if I’m in a public place) every 30 minutes alerting me it’s time to move. Will this ensure longevity? I don’t know, but it’s got to be better than sitting completely still for long periods.
How do you minimize the amount you sit? I’d love to hear your experiences.