creative writing · fog

NaNo Diaries // Self-Care for Writers

Hello everyone!

It is day 20 of NaNoWriMo! How are you all holding up? I have to tell you, I am feeling exhausted. It’s been a tough month, juggling NaNo along with, well… life. I am a person who likes to push myself, and I am excellent at not giving myself a break. And I kind of learned a few things this time around.

NaNo has been tough this year. It’s been really hard to find time to write when I barely have time at all. And there were some days (probably more days than not) when I had to throw in the towel and accept the fact that I am not going to hit the target of 1667 words. On weekdays, I’ve accepted that 500-1000 words a day is probably where I’m going to end up, and if I get 1000+ words down, then that’s golden.

I’m probably not the best person to talk about self care. I’m more likely to go all “tough love” on myself. BUT I’m going to give it a try anyway. At least I can talk about what self care means for me.

1: Sometimes the words don’t come, and that’s okay.

Some days writing literally feels like pulling teeth. I struggle with every sentence and every word and it sucks. And don’t worry because THAT IS OKAY. It is part of being a writer. There are good days and there are not bad. When I’m going through slow writing days, I write as much as I can in the time that I have, and even if I don’t get as many words down as I wish I could have, I’ll put down my pen and sleep (but more on that later.)

2: Sometimes the words come out sounding pretty lame and crappy, and that’s okay too.

Because guess what? I am writing a first draft. Marissa Meyer said that ZERO words from the first draft of Renegades made it to the final draft. This is how much of a difference word-smithing each sentence and paragraph makes. Bottom line is to turn off our inner critic. We are writing, and that’s great, and it’s not perfect, and it’s fine.

3: When the words flow, that’s awesome. Catch the wave and WRITE LOTS.

I love getting those magical moments when the words come to me without thinking, and I can easily transcribe what is in my head onto the page. It’s when I am so in tune with my story and characters that I forget that I am writing. When these moments come, I run with it and write as much as I can physically write!

4: Tea is essential.

I love tea. Caffeinated tea is my jam but I’ve recently started loving herbal tea too. If tea is not your thing, replace the above with the drink of your choice (coffee? awesome! hot chocolate? delish!! wine? essential!)

5: Balance.

Writing is important to me. I have stories that I want to tell and I do want to (eventually, one day in the perhaps far future) get published. But I can’t be writing all the time. I also need other things like exercise, good food and catching up with friends, which keep me feeling happy and healthy- and give me more things to write about.

6: When I feeling tired, it’s time to sleep.

If I’m so tired that my brain feels numb and my eyes can’t stay open, it means that I need to sleep. Since I am working full-time, I am often sacrificing sleep to make more time for writing. It pays off in the short-term: I magically have more time and I am able to make headway on my word counts for the day. But sleep-deprivation always finds a way to get back to me. I feel more groggy in the morning and more cranky in general. I also just feel tired. Lesson of the day? Sleep is good.

About My NaNo Project, “Fog”

No one knows where the Fog comes from. All they know is that those who enter the Fog never return.

Luna and her twin sister Treya live in a town on the coast of Suni. Luna is the quiet one, while Treya is charismatic, powerful and the pride of the Delphinus Clan. Treya has already decided to be a Sorcerer and join the Queen’s Army, just like their mother and father. But Luna doesn’t know what she wants to be; also, joining the Queen’s Army seems like a lot of work.

On the day of their graduation. Luna rescues a boy from the edge of the Fog. His name is Caio Amadeus Vladimir and he looks nothing like anyone in the country. Caio wants to go into the Fog and map out the lost regions of Suni, and he asks Luna to be his bodyguard. Luna thinks he is delusional.

Until Treya disappears on a misty day. Luna will do anything to bring her back.

My NaNoWriMo Progress: 39106 words / 50000 words

A Snippet from “Fog”

“You praying that I won’t whoop you in the ass?” Ru says from the other side of the table. She moves her piece forward and bumps Mao’s Sorcerer off its square.

Mao sighs. Despite the circumstances, Ru doesn’t seem concerned with the state of the Army or the country. She is preoccupied with simple pleasures like good meals and winning a silly game. Hence, although they had started at the same time, Mao has risen to the rank of Commander while Ru is still a common Warrior grunt.

“All right, you win,” Mao says.

“Looks like I get double meatballs, two days in a row.” Ru chuckles. “I shouldn’t be too greedy. The Commander needs her protein after all-“

“Ru, listen.” Mao’s eyes squint as she concentrates on the sound from outside their tent. The crunch of branches, a loud whoosh, like that of a strong wind, yet the inside of their tent remains still, the candle flames do not flicker. Mao sniffs the air, a pungent sweet smell- the scent of burning flesh.

What are your favourite self-care activities? Do you have a go to reading or writing drink?

Photos by Nathan Lindahl on UnsplashErol Ahmed on Unsplash

20 thoughts on “NaNo Diaries // Self-Care for Writers

  1. I am legit drinking a cup of chamomile tea as I read this ❤ Tea is ESSENTIAL (and coffee if its morning and chocolate if its any time whatsoever). Self care is so important, and Sophie you wrote over 39,000 words!! Wow, you are doing amazing!! 😀 You have more than earned time to relax and hang out with your friends (and SLEEP). My favorite self care activities are just chilling out with my headphones and listening to music or picking up a book and getting some good reading time in. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jai Lynn! Yes I love tea so much!! I wonder if this is a writer (and reader?) thing haha, since in real life I feel like I am in the minority (everyone loves coffee) while here on the blogosphere I feel like a lot of people love tea? Yesterday I tried mango rooibos tea at a local cafe and really loved it! I like chamomile as well. It’s very calming 🙂
      Listening to music and reading are great activities to wind down with! I have been slow when it comes to reading physical books but I’ve read some great audiobooks recently 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My favorite cup of tea is of course, peppermint. And, self-care is so important especially with a busy schedule and a busier writing schedule. Folks that aren’t writers don’t realize how stressful writing can become. So, self-care keeps your mind from turning into pudding, even if your first draft looks like a hot mess express. Another great article!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great to hear that you’re a tea fan as well! Right now I’m drinking a mix of green tea and peppermint. I think the mint really does give the tea a good kick 🙂
      Yeah it can be stressful balancing work with writing. As much as I love writing, sometimes it feels like a second job haha XD

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re doing so, so well!! And once again I love the extract from your story that you’ve included ❤️ I mostly drink tea tbh when reading or when I used to write. Or sometimes pepsi max. I can’t imagine not drinking tea though 😅 I think an important part of self care is to let yourself have a day off if you’re struggling to write and things just don’t seem to be coming together. Use your spare time in those cases to relax and do something completely separate to your writing and then, hopefully, the next day the ideas will come again and you’ll feel more motivated to write. Although sometimes, if it’s a block that just won’t go, you have to find a way to work passed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Charlotte!
      Tea is great! I also cannot imagine a day without tea haha. I think I will go into withdrawal. Yesterday I tried a mango rooibos tea which I really loved 🙂
      Yes it helps to take a short break from writing when the words don’t come smoothly. I find that when I have a bad writing day, forcing myself to continue really doesn’t help and just makes me feel more frustrated haha. In those cases it helps to step away and come back later 🙂 Thank you Charlotte!! ❤️

      Like

  4. Such a great post! 🥰 I’m so bad at taking care of myself but just now I had to take a week-long break from my revision because I wasn’t in a good mental headspace and needed to tone everything down. But I’m trying to slowly ease into it again (and tea + coffee always helps with that as well) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Caro!
      Sounds like you’re going through a tough time- hope that you will feel better. I think as writers we are hard on ourselves, however it is good to take a break and unwind. Sending good wishes your way ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tea really is essential 😀 This is all such wonderful advice – it’s so important to take care of ourselves during this busy time! Obviously we want to push ourselves to write as many words as possible, but there are times that those words just won’t come, and there’s no use beating ourselves up over it when that happens. Happy writing, Sophie – we’re in the home stretch now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Nanowrimo is a pretty lofty endeavour, especially when we have lots of other things going on in our lives, so we need to remember to take care of ourselves while trying to meet word-count targets 🙂 Thank you! Good luck with the final stretch!! Sending good writing vibes your way! 🙂

      Like

  6. I think I’m learning that self care is important with writing as it can be very stressful and it can be very lonely so you need to remember to prioritise your well-being!!
    I think your advice is SO good!! From not reaching word counts, to feeling like what you are writing is rubbish, to balance and sleep!! It is all so important to remember that it is okay to not be writing amazing sentences in your first draft and to remember you can put other things first. Things can change to adapt to life!!
    I think a great thing to do when you are feeling stressed is have a nice shower as it is peaceful and then you feel refreshed afterwards!!
    I like the snippet (again, I say this every time) but the ending!?!!?
    Wonderful post Sophie!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sophie 🙂
      Thank you!! Yes self-care is important. I love the feeling of a nice shower at the end of the day- it is definitely refreshing! Glad that you like the snippet. Yes I left you guys on a cliffhanger there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Tea is essential for me, and I might get up after an hour or so writing to have a stretch break or play with my dog a bit. I also liked physically moving locations this month to give myself a break from just being in the same spot, like on Saturdays my NaNo friend group would meet at a coffee shop for a few hours, then get a quick bite to eat before moving to a library location. That short break in between really helped me recharge; it felt like a brain hack!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Katie!!
      Yeah it’s definitely nice to get up and move around for a while. I do find it hard to sit and write continuously for more than one hour! It helps to switch gears and do something else before coming back to writing 🙂
      I like to move around when I write too. I think going to a different location does help our brains feel more refreshed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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