How to Avoid Overwhelm and Burnout During NaNoWriMo  

For those of us who normally just slink off and write what we want, when we want, NaNoWriMo can cause a bit of stress. Good stress! But stress, nevertheless.

I like the pressure of forcing myself to write a certain amount of words, although I’m not sure my family is so keen! (I might possibly get a little worked up or stroppy when I am behind, only mildly of course!?), but I spectacularly tanked at the beginning of NaNo this year, so I had to hide away and catch up for everyone’s sanity!

I’m more or less on target now, but whether you have managed that or not, sometimes it all gets a little overwhelming when you run out of hours in the day, or something or somebody else clamours for your attention.

So here are a few things just to help you get away from that overwhelming feeling when writing gets a little too much for you.

  1. Just relax. Nothing bad will happen if you don’t manage to write as much as you want to. If the pressure really is getting too much, take time for yourself and step away from your writing, even if it is just for half an hour. If you give yourself some space, you might find that you can concentrate a little better on whatever it is that is stopping you writing. Then, when you get back to it, you can finish that chapter (or page, or even sentence) that was causing you all the trouble.
  2. If the problem is that you are feeling that you have lost your way in your novel, take some time away from writing just to re-plot and restructure. There is only a week left in NaNo, so it might help to focus you a little on the run up to completion.
  3. Don’t obsess about what you have written so far. Firstly, you might not think it is enough – in which case – meh! It may not be the NaNo suggested amount, but if it is more than you would have written otherwise – then celebrate – woohoo! Secondly, you might worry that it is awful. It doesn’t matter – that is what editing is for. Once you have finished, you can rearrange, change bits and sort it all out. Don’t think about whether your work is good enough to get published – at this stage, nobody’s is. It is after you have worked on it and edited it to within an inch of its life that it begins to take shape. So forget doubts now, they are not worth it. It is just enough to get words down on paper. For now, November is just for writing as much as you can.
  4. Struggling with writers block? Try some of the prompts on the NaNo website, or follow the Twitter account – @NaNoWordSprints      –   You can join in and post your results with them. Sometimes it is a boost to feel part of something with other people all aiming for the same result.
  5. Keep it manageable. Small steps are the best. Try not to worry about the overall total that you need to write by the end of November, or even how much you will need to write to get to the end of your manuscript. Just plan on getting to the end of the next chapter. You’ll be surprised how quickly it all adds up.

Do you have any tips for overwhelm, let me know in the comments, any extra help we can all get will be much appreciated!

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