Retaining Your Mental Faculties

My Mental Breaks
Sylvester the Party Cat

Sometimes, things run like ice on a hotplate. What do you do when they aren’t?

I have been writing at least five days a week for a year straight. I wasn’t aware this was something unusual. A friend who is starting NaNoWriMo for the first time asked how I managed to not fall off pace. I thought about it for a while before answering her. I hadn’t really thought about falling off pace. I just saw what I wanted to do and did it.

I realized after some reflection that I had built in breaks and helpful mental habits that kept me sane through this process. I play with the cat every day, and as you can see he is a real party animal. I play with the kids when they aren’t being teenagers full of the indignation of youth. I meditate every day to clear my head because it is good for my blood pressure. Most importantly, I actually talk to my wife. Not just about how her day was, but how she is feeling, what funny thing did she see at work, What made her day good/bad, etc.

Does this mean I am perfect? Not by a long shot. I get distracted by oh shiny internets all the time. I have just programmed myself to shut all of my devices off at the same time every night to write. If during my writing I have to look something up, I have a tab on my desktop that only opens duckduckgo.com so I am not blasted with messages from the social media I love so much.

All of these things started as something different. The single tab was originally just a bookmark I threw on my desktop for no particular reason. The cat has been my sparring partner ever since we rescued him. The meditation was to lower my blood pressure without so many medicines. Somehow all of the things fell together into a lucky, perfect storm for writing. So basically I am sharing my good fortune.

During NaNoWriMo I will not actively be participating this year, but I am going to take several of my friends struggling to find the time to write between house chores, kids, spouses, work, and every other thing that tends to demand their attention. I will be helping them with whatever works for them and sharing these same things with them. Write when you can, play when you need a break, just don’t let the breaks become your days. I wish everyone participating in this great month of writing a high word count, many met goals, and really fun characters to play with.

At the end of the day, it should be about if you are pleased with your outcome. If not make small changes. Large changes fall away, small ones are easier to stick with.

Planning ahead

I am the first to admit I am terrible at this. I will entertain the thought of getting ahead in my writing, then squirrel. We recently moved, as in there are still boxes piled around me as I type this. I had a four day long migraine, yadda, yadda, yadda.. I am sure I can come up with a hundred excuses. It doesn’t make them less valid. It also does not excuse my lack of planning ahead, writing ahead, thinking ahead. What besides self-imposed deadlines keeps you ahead in your work writing? Deadlines are my main mechanism, but I would love to hear other writer’s thoughts on this.