Having a workspace that is conducive to the stress and strain of writing 1,667 words every day for a month is something I feel so strongly about that I wanted to share today’s prepwork from the NaNo bootcamp I’m running over in my Patreon. It’s something I think everyone should do before November 1st if they want to have the best chance for success.

Here in 2020, it’s escaped no one’s notice that time, energy, and space to write are all in short supply. I can’t even begin to imagine what set-ups each of you have; and I can only assume that co-working spaces, coffee shops, and libraries are all out of the question. So please take all this advice with grains of salt and good intentions: today’s prepwork is about how to set up a workspace that will give you the best chance of not burning out during NaNo.

It also shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone but NaNoWriMo is hard. FUN, but HARD. I don’t run marathons but I’ve heard it compared to one; to succeed you have to enjoy the running, not just finishing a race. And this year, especially, things are tough even if one remains relatively unscathed by the ‘Rona. Creative spoons are at a premium. So the best thing you can do is create a space (a time, a location) where you can write as easily as possible. The more work you have to do each day to start a session means the more likely you are to burn out.

If possible:

  1. have a dedicated space to work in, so that you are not dragging your laptop out and setting it up each time you want to write. Remember to put your phone somewhere else while writing so that you are not tempted by notifications.
  2. have a regular enough routine established that you can carve out an hour or two at the same times every day. (Doesn’t need to be in one vast chunk; you need to figure out what works for you. For instance, I write for a bit in the morning and then break, and work again for an hour in the evening. Having to only write 1K in a sitting is much more achievable, even if it means more sittings per day. But that’s just me.) Having a habit (and setting timers to remind you!) will come in very handy on days when your energy is low. Having to decide each day when you will write costs energy that is better used writing.
  3. have friends (online writing buddies, supportive partners, etc.) who will check in with you as often as you need. (Reminder that we do sprints over in the Discord channel!). Especially this year, with NaNo write-ins off the table, it’s important to have a community to support you and cheer you on.

The more athletically-minded of you will note that this is the same advice given to people who are working out–have a dedicated space, routine, and support for your training, either mental or physical. Treat NaNo like you would a marathon.

Of course, not everyone can manage each of those three, and that’s all right. You aren’t going to fail if you have to clean your dining room table off each night so that you can set up your laptop. But it will make it slightly more uphill; and today is the day to brainstorm ways to make it easier on yourself.

Perhaps you have a notebook standing by for days when lugging your computer out seems like too much work. Perhaps you dictate your novel into a freeware app on your phone! There are endless solutions for the infinite variations in what you need to be set up properly. That’s why I am dedicating this day of prepwork to just figuring out your workspace. It is that important.

Once NaNo starts I will be doing weekly ‘poppycocks’: prompts designed to help you write creatively without engaging your innner editor. Come join in, and gain access to Official Permission(tm) slips, worksheets, prompts, submission challenges, the Talk Shop Discord server, and more.

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