You’re twelve days into NaNoWriMo. How are you feeling? The beginning of a project can be so much fun. There’s the novelty of it, the excitement to start something new, the drive to finish.

Like most endeavors, that excitement, drive, and energy tend to wane about this time. It might even be getting boring (gasp!).

Or, you may have expended so much energy that you’re willing to make the trade of sleeping in over writing. And that’s understandable. Being creative can take a toll on your energy.

Years ago, I worked on a project with a friend. It was an emotional project and it felt like we needed to get everything done at once. We’d write, share, revise, and write some more. In every spare moment, I thought about the project or worked on it. I’d even dreamt about it.

Eventually, it became too much. I had no patience with my family, my work suffered because I had nothing left for creative tasks. I didn’t have the energy for the boring stuff either and put it off until my business couldn’t run properly.

A few things can happen when you reach this level of creative exhaustion. You either:

  1. Start hating the project to the point it feels like a chore, or
  2. Abandon it all together. Exhaustion becomes too much and it feels like your world is crumbling beneath you.

The best way to avoid exhaustion to take breaks. Schedule them, because if you take short impromptu breaks, guilt can set in. That can eat at you and be counterproductive.

There’s a lot of advice out there to write every day. I’m not sure that’s entirely healthy, to be honest. We don’t exercise every day, we don’t work every day (or we’re advised not to, anyway), we shouldn’t write every day. Our brains, and probably our bodies, need a chance to reset.

Writing streaks are fine, so are marathons. NaNo is a marathon, but any runner knows that there are miles you slow down and miles you kick it in. The race starts well before that and the best training programs include rest days.

Take those rest days. Thanksgiving and the day before and after are good ones to schedule before the home stretch. Once a week spending time with real people might be helpful, too.

Whenever you decide, take them and don’t feel guilty about it. Use the time to recharge and refuel. You’ll feel so much better if you do!

What’s your longest writing streak? Did you take breaks? How did you feel before, during, and after?

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