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Friday, July 11, 2014

Non-Traditional Tips for Surviving Camp NaNo: Breaks

For my final tip for this week, I thought I'd go a bit more counter intuitive on you.  

Take a Break

When I say break, I mean take a day off. Surely you didn't think my mini-goals to get ahead of par was because I want to be an over-achiever, did you? 

No no. I'm a firm believer in rest. No, I'm not lazy. But some days, you just need to slow down. Or stop writing entirely. Maybe it's because your brain feels like mush. Or maybe you have a family member who needs your attention. 

Either way, it's better to not write for a day, than to try and cram everything in at once. The way I see it, cramming just sucks. Yes, you write, but odds are you're not going to enjoy it. And let's face it. What's the point to writing if we don't like it any more? Also, writing without actually enjoying it tires you out. Emotionally and mentally. Which means that although you might manage to force yourself to write today, it might mean that you end up not writing for a week. Or if you manage to keep forcing yourself to write until you win, you might not write again for months. 

No one wants that. 

So if you're feeling a funny burning sensation in your brain (Really. That's how it feels to me in any case.), or life just gets in the way, set a reduced mini-goal or don't write. Preferably, you'll have a buffer of extra words built up. Otherwise, you just need to split the difference in between your remaining days and work it in later. 

That's actually why I didn't post yesterday. I had every intention to do so, but got knocked over by a migraine. Still feeling a bit achy, so I'm going to reduce what I want to do for today as well. Lucky me, I was two days ahead. But there's simply no way I'm going to melt my brain by writing through a migraine. 

Furthermore, I have a strict six day policy in my writing. In other words, I only write for six days a week. I always take the seventh off unless I can't resist writing. It sounds strange, I know, especially in a world where people keep shouting that we should be writing every day. But in the end, I know I'm more productive after resting than if I slog through writing day after day until I burn out. 

Anyone else doing Camp NaNo? When was the last time you took a break? 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

When I'm working on a story, I do write a lot every day, so maybe that's why I go so long in between projects.

Misha Gericke said...

It can be, Alex. :-)

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Ummm, melting a brain writing through a migraine. Definitely not a way to spend the afternoon. Hope you're fully back on track tomorrow, Misha.

Liz A. said...

I've been on a writing break since January. I need to get back to it, though. I used to (when I wrote every day) take days when I knew I wouldn't write and make up for that the day before or after. It made taking the break feel okay for me.

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah Terry, it's not fun at all. Whether it's because I have to squint at paper or burn my eyes by staring at a screen. :-/

Liz I did the same, due to a variety of good reasons. But especially because of that, I'm taking more breaks, because I'm not as used to writing a lot every day as I used to be.

Jessica Lawson said...

Breaks are really important for me as well. That old saying that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is often true, and I find that a break can actually prompt ideas more than forcing words for the sake of reaching a certain word count can.

Misha Gericke said...

I find that too, Jessica. :-)

mshatch said...

I rarely take breaks of more than a day or two, unless I'm on vacation, but I find mini breaks helpful - like when I have in issue I need to resolve in my wip and it isn't coming to me as I stare at the screen. A mini break often helps me see exactly how to make it work.

Liz Blocker said...

Amen!! We writers never want to take breaks, but they're so essential for our overall health and wellbeing - not to mention our writing!

Misha Gericke said...

Marcy it's the same with me. I usually only take a day off or so, unless I get migraines or something like that that would make writing a punishment.

Liz I know! We just want to write and get snarly when we don't. But it's actually important to rest up here and there.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I hope your migraine goes away and that you feel better. And even though I am a workaholic, I agree that breaks are important. When I've been working too long and too hard, I get cranky and even more annoyed by everything and everyone. It's good to take a break and blow off some steam.