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Treasure your most valuable tools!

Happy Monday everyone, I hope you had a great weekend!  Today’s tip to help you on your path to NaNoWriMo success is one that people unfortunately don’t think of until it’s too late…taking care of the precious tools you’ll be using!

The tools I’m talking about today are the ones we take for granted too often: our hands (a post about dictation software will be coming soon)!  To give you an example of what I’m talking about, let’s compare NaNoWriMo to the recommended number of steps per day.

typing

So most of us type or handwrite a fair bit every day, whether at work or as part of our normal writing goals.  Every once in a while the muse is especially kind and you might knock out 8000-10000 words, usually ending with you gazing around in slight bewilderment afterward, wondering where the day went as you stumble off to feed your growling stomach.  In the same vein, most people will walk approximately 5000-7000 steps today, some even hitting the recommended 10000 steps.  Those are days when we kick off our (hopefully) comfortable shoes and reflect on what exactly we’d been doing to make our Fitbit do its happy dance.

Now just imagine that you started walking a minimum of 10000 steps every single day, no excuses, no preparation.  You’re wearing your ancient beat-up sneakers, mismatched socks, and no bandages or moleskin for the blisters that inevitably develop.  You rummage through the medicine cabinet looking for something to relieve your aching joints and beg your significant other for foot rubs.

Sooo…how is this different from NNWM?  You’re going to be committing yourself to writing an average of 1600 words every single day for thirty days.  Sure, you probably normally write more than that in emails and work reports…but this is 1600 words ON TOP OF what you’re already doing!

I’m no doctor, but here are my humble suggestions that you can incorporate into your NaNoWriMo routine (start now!), ones that can help you power on when the mind is willing but the hands are begging for mercy!

  1. You (hopefully) wouldn’t start a workout with stretching and warming up first, would you?  Why should your fingers, hands and wrists be exempt?  This LiveStrong article has some simple exercises to get you ready to go, print it out or copy it into a electronic sticky note for quick reference before you get down to business!
  2. I’m a strong proponent of compression gloves and have been for years, for both knitting and writing.  These are most similar to the ones I have, but I also found these and these.  Bonus: they can provide warmth if you consistently have cold hands like me.  Just make sure they fit comfortably!  Snug = good, cutting off circulation = bad.
  3. Think ergonomically!  ProductiveWriters.com has a great reference for how you should be aligning your body to reduce/eliminate pain later.  Will kicking back on the couch with your laptop from time to time kill you?  No, but consider proper body alignment (including hands, wrists, elbows) to be additional time banked for when you’re really cranking along later!
  4. Reward yourself for a job well done!  We warmed up and stretched before undertaking our writing exercise, so be sure to give yourself a hand massage as a reward for hitting your daily word count.  As with Tip #1, print or copy the directions and keep them nearby.  If you’re super-lucky, as I am, your spouse or partner might be willing to do this for you!  If you don’t have time for a full-on massage, keep a favorite hand lotion (relaxing or invigorating is up to you) nearby and make it a part of your end-of-writing-for-the-day ritual.
  5. Listen to your body!  Writers are, for obvious reasons, at risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!  Pain, stiffness and numbness shouldn’t be ignored or toughed out if they persist, so consult with a doctor if at-home modifications or treatments aren’t effective.  Successfully finishing NaNoWriMo isn’t much of an accomplishment if you’re in too much pain to take on the post-win activities!

How do you prep yourself physically for NaNoWriMo?

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