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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

NaNoWriMo and Health

If you surf around the NaNoWriMo web site and participant sites and forums, you're likely to come across references to pulling all-nighters and consuming vast quantities of coffee and sugar. Such is not the path for me.

In my youth (In my youth! Ha! I still feel strange writing that. When did I stop being "in my youth"? I have no recollection of that happening and yet, bizarrely, here I am.) I wrote on caffeine and junk food. At Queen's I even popped chocolate covered espresso beans for a couple of years. (Gave those up the day I injured my wrist doing cartwheels down my residence hallway at 5:00 a.m.) These days, my body doesn't take so kindly to that sort of abuse.

I still very much enjoy fine dark chocolates as a special treat now and then, but the milk chocolate candy bars that were a staple of my diet 20 years ago are no longer edible to me, I rarely consume potato crisps, and coffee is a once-a-year treat (reserved for special occasions when I am out with friends in an establishment that serves really good coffee with chocolate and alcohol in it). These days, any period of being especially busy is not an excuse to lay in a hoard of junk food but rather reason to try even harder than usual to eat a healthy, nutritious and well-balanced diet.

If you've been keeping up with posts over at The Polyphagous Dragon you may have noticed that the quantity of "sweet treat" posts had been increasing as of late. That needs to stop in fairly short order if I am to be ready for November. I need to remember how to eat "healthy in a hurry". I need to make a few other changes too.

Such as: changes to my physical activity regime. Until recently, puppy dog and I were hiking 4 miles a day, every day. Then we moved house, and the new living arrangements somehow led to abandonment of our morning walk and sometimes working right through the evening walk too. The puppy doesn't mind (only dog I've ever known who isn't wildly in love with going for walks), but I do. My body minds. I need to be hiking at least 4 miles a day, and I need to get back into yoga as well. Upping my keyboard time in November equates with an INCREASE in the need to do those things, not a decrease. Therefore, when I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I resolved that November would not just be about pounding out a novel for me but that it would be about doing so healthfully. I resolved that, during November 2007 I would:
  • Rise at 6:30 a.m.
  • Practice yoga daily.
  • Check in with the Wrimo community daily but only during fixed, pre-ordained times and strictly refuse to surf or cyber-socialize during other times.
  • Hike a minimum of 4 miles per day.
  • Eat three, healthy, well-balanced meals each day.
  • Write 2000 words per day - no falling behind the 2000 word/day pace and creating a last minute crunch.
  • Log off my computer by 10:30 p.m. every day.

The above is the aspect of my NaNoWriMo plans that experienced Wrimos will no doubt tell me is an unreasonable goal. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be crazy. It's supposed to be a life-consuming, throw-your-schedule-out-the-window, long-dark-night-(or is that tea time?)-of-the-soul, abandon-all-hope-all-ye-who-enter-in, suffering out of which we all emerge joyful and victorious into the bright light of day on December 1. (There are even Wrimos who, believing that 50,000 words in a month isn't crazy enough for them, are aiming to write 3 or more novels!) For me, however, NaNoWriMo is about a community and a deadline and hopefully a chance to generate enough interest in my project to have some fun with the "choose your own adventure" concept, and an opportunity to practice writing 50K words in a month WITHOUT sacrificing my health. I'm vying for the whole package.

6 comments:

Kel said...

I applaud your determination to maintain a balanced, healthy life-style in the midst of NaNoWriMo. As for me, I firmly believe that chocolate covered espresso beans were invented FOR NaNoWriMo participants and will indulge accordingly. In fact, I'm sure I'll be washing said beans down with strong cups of black coffee. But you will no doubt emerge on December 1 a healthier, happier saner person than me, and with fewer eye-bags.

And, in all seriousness, I'm glad your new freelancing schedule allows you to make room for NaNoWriMo. I love your poll concept and will be a frequent visitor and voter.

Sya said...

Well, I think it's doable if you don't have anything else on your schedule. I have never done an all-nighter for Nanowrimo in all the years that I have participated so I sort of think people who have to be a little extreme.

Laura Rainbow Dragon said...

Thanks Kel!

Good luck with your NaNo project and watch out for those 5 a.m. cartwheels!

Laura Rainbow Dragon said...

Sya, so there are other people attempting to do NaNo with somewhat sane schedules? That's good to know.

I roughly blocked out mine for the month and figure I can successfully complete NaNoWriMo, maintaining the healthy habits I wrote about in my post and still work up to 40 hours per week -- provided that my house-mates agree not to speak to me for an entire month. Of course, that last part isn't going to happen, but I'm also not likely to be freelancing 40 hours per week either, so I think I will be okay.

R. J. Thorne said...

I found you today and am captivated by all your blogs. I love the idea of eating healthy while undertaking NaNoWriMo and I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one. You have even inspired me to *gasp* exercise. (Though truthfully, I've been meaning to get back to my daily workouts and just haven't gotten around to it yet.)

Thank you for being what I needed today.

Laura Rainbow Dragon said...

Hi R.J.

Thank you for your kind words and glad that my post helped. Good luck with NaNoWriMo and with getting back into the exercising.

Getting back into the habit of exercising can be tough, but with small, incremental steps and consistent practice, one can get there.