How to Take a Break During NaNoWriMo

Knowing how to take a break during NaNoWriMo is critically important if you’ve hit writer’s block and want to hit your word count by the end of the month. Your break can come in two ways–you can take a break from your novel and deliberately take actions to reignite the creative spark. Or you can take a break and deliberately take actions that have nothing to do with your story. Either approach will work.

Reigniting the Creative Spark

When your inspiration runs dry, you can take actions that you think will prime the pump of your imagination. Since I’m a mystery writer, I might review interviews I’ve already conducted with law enforcement and legal professionals, google new questions that have popped up since I began writing, or consult books I own in this area. I might reread my favorite mysteries to see if I can learn something new about plotting, setting, structure, or how to handle characters or dive into writing books and study any of those techniques.

Make a Clean Break

But maybe what you need is a clean break. That might sound crazy when you have a 50,000 word count to achieve, but trying to run a marathon without any fuel is crazy too. I’ve also thought it was crazy that this writing Olympics takes place in November. NaNoWriMo was created by an American, and he should know that only December is a busier month in our country. But the fact that Thanksgiving forces most people to take a break from their regular schedules can work in your favor if you’ve hit a wall of unproductively in your novel.

If you have to take off from writing for the holiday, make a clean break. Don’t do anything writing related for a day or two, which should be easy if you’re attending or hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. Force yourself away from your pen or computer. Try not to think about your novel at all.

Or you might try this approach. If I’ve run into a scene going nowhere, I tell my brain what the problem is and then stop thinking about it. Very often, ideas will begin to bubble and then rise to the surface. I’m not sure how this works, but I’ve had a lot of success by turning my brain loose from my conscious efforts.

After your clean break, you may be surprised at how eager you are to get the words flowing again. And at how easily they flow.

If you need a break from writing, what do you do?

For more tips on NaNoWriMo, click here.

2 thoughts on “How to Take a Break During NaNoWriMo

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  1. Being an artist, I work on art to take breaks. Also, when I was president of a writing group, our NaNoWriMo was in April. Personally, I think January is the best month to churn out 50,000 words. It’s the most boring month of the year once the New Year celebration is over.

    1. I think you’re right about January. Personally, it doesn’t work for me because my birthday and my kids’ birthdays are during that month. March is best for me, but I discovered when I tried my own NaNoWriMo in March 2022 that writing straight through a first draft is not my style. But the experiment helped me understand my style better.

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