How to Stay Healthy During NaNoWriMo


For those participating in National Novel Writing Month, November is all about writing. It has to be, if participants have any hope of making it to 50,000 words before the month ends.

All that focus on staring at a screen and typing away can unintentionally block a lot of our healthy habits, and the last thing you want while you’re trying to write a novel is to get sick and/or totally burn yourself out.

Here’s how to stay healthy—and write a lot—this November. 

Take breaks—a lot of breaks

The good news? NaNo gives you the chance to write a lot, probably a lot more than you normally would in a 30-day time span. You finally have an excuse to write! The bad news? You’ll end up burning yourself out pretty quickly if you’re not careful. Taking a lot of breaks—more than you think you need to—is your best bet this November. Give your brain a chance to rest from overuse.

Don’t combine food and noveling 

Do you snack—or even worse, eat full meals—while you try to get some writing done throughout the day? Try not to do that. It’s likely you won’t be munching on anything all that healthy, and while your brain can surely benefit from a carb-induced energy boost, eating a lot without even realizing you’re doing it isn’t going to make you feel very well, and we all know how hard it is to write a few thousand words when we don’t feel well. 

Figure out your most effective idea-generating activity

It’s when we step away from our screens that ideas seem to come to us more easily. Your brain “rushes” ideas—and you comprehend them—because you’re not distracted by something else in front of you. While you’re taking a break, go for a walk. Work out, if you want to. Do something productive while you’re letting your brain generate more ideas for your story.

For the love of God, just sleep a lot

A WriMo does not automatically equal sleep deprivation. Yes, you’ll have a lot going on, on top of having to write 1,667 words a day and whatever. It’s not going to get any better if you try to sleep less on purpose. Eventually you will hit that wall of non-productivity and nothing, not coffee, not even your characters, will be able to keep you awake.

You’ll be much more productive over the course of the month if you let yourself rest and treat yourself well. It’s hard, writing a novel. We know. It may not seem like you have time to stop and rest, eat, walk, sleep, all the things you might normally do to relax. But it is possible. You can do it. Your brain and your body will thank you, and by the end of November, you’ll have 50,000 words behind you and enough energy to keep writing even after NaNo ends.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.