NaNoWriMo Check-in and How to Avoid Burning Out in the Last Week

We’re in the final full week of NaNoWriMo. Can you believe it? I swear I blink and the month is gone.

How are you doing?

Are you on track to writing 50k words? Are you a bit behind, but feel confident you’ll catch up? Are you glad to have any amount of words written without a care as to whether you do 50k?

If you’re like me, welcome to the any amount of words written club.

I started to fall behind midway through the second week of NaNoWriMo. This didn’t surprise me. I knew it was bound to happen. I knew because this month I’m currently:

  • Participating in NaNoWriMo.
  • Writing and editing personal essays for upcoming contests.
  • Writing and editing flash fiction stories for upcoming contests.
  • Editing a proposal for a December 1 deadline.
  • Editing a query letter for a December 1 deadline.
  • Writing content for my copywriting clients.
  • Pitching services to new clients.

All in the single month of November!

Ambitious? You betcha. Insane? Hell yes. Biting off more than I can chew? Maybe. 

I woke up feeling a slight touch of burnout on November 16 and decided to give myself the day off. I knew it’d set my NaNoWriMo project back, but I also know that I’ll finish the project. Definitely not on November 30, but maybe on December 7 or December 14. Either way, I know I’ll get it done.

Burnout is nothing to be proud of. I saw a quote on LinkedIn the other day stating people wear burnout as a badge of honor and we need to stop doing that. It’s true. Working yourself to the point where you physically and mentally can’t handle anything is not healthy.

Yes, you gave yourself the challenge of writing 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo, but if you don’t “win” it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Even if you fell short by 1,000 words, be proud of yourself. 

Believe me, looking at that bullet list, I’m freaking out. I know that’s a lot to tackle in a month. Even for someone like me who is a pretty damn good time manager.

I knew instantly on the morning of November 16 that I needed a break. The symptoms of burnout are clear:

  • Headaches
  • Stomachache
  • Feeling drained
  • Reduced creativity
  • Exhaustion
  • Cynicism

If you wake up feeling any one or more of these symptoms, give yourself a day to rest and recharge!

I’m going to break a major taboo right now: you don’t have to write every day to be a writer. Once more for the people in the back:

You don’t have to write every day to be a writer.

This is something I learned far too late in my writing career. I felt if I didn’t write and write 1,000+ words every day, I wasn’t a good enough writer. I wasn’t dedicated enough. This mindset led me into two and a half years of no writing and deep depression. I wanted to vomit every time I picked up a pen or turned on my laptop.

Then I stumbled upon a bunch of writers part of the I-don’t-write-every-day-club and my life was changed forever.

NaNoWriMo challenges you to write every day, but it’s not going to yell at you if you don’t. Only you can do that. What I love most about the website — courtesy of a writerly friend — is how it gives you an estimated date of when you’ll finish. It averages out your word count and updates that deadline every time you put in a new word count.

Right now, mine says December 14. That’s two weeks from November 30. Even if it elongates, it’s nice to know I’m on track and nearing the finish line.

Do yourself a favor. If you’re feeling any of the signs of burnout, give yourself one day to relax. Sleep in. Binge a few episodes of a show you love. Read a book. Know those 50,000 words will be written. Your writing is important, but not at the risk of your mental and physical state.

Take care of yourself, my friends. The world needs your words.

Your turn. Have you ever been burnt out before? How’s your NaNoWriMo going? Are you done? Close to the finish line? I’d love to hear how you unwind when you feel on the verge of burning out.

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