I have several deadlines to meet by the end of this month, including finishing an outlined NaNoWriMo novel. Crunch time!
I reviewed my past “crunch time” behaviors, many of which set me back instead of moving me forward. (e.g. I often gave up eating healthy meals and grabbed caffeine-laden soft drinks and chocolate to get me by.)
But since the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over (while expecting different results), I decided to make a list of behaviors I wanted to implement from now till the end of November. These are the habits I’ve found to work during previous crunch times:
**Never sit and stare at a blank screen. When you hit a mental block, get up and move. Do a household chore you hate until you think of something to write next. There is nothing in this world that jogs my writing block loose like scrubbing a toilet. It is one of the writer’s best kept secrets.
**Close down email during the day. Check for emergency email first thing in the morning, answer any from editors, and leave the rest till the end of the writing day. Same goes for turning on the answering machine and returning calls late in the day.
**Keep up with health routines. Although my brain says, “Skip your run and get to work” or “grab that candy bar and keep working,” it never helps in the long run. I am much more productive during crunch times if I continue with my 6 a.m. run, eat my oatmeal (ugh), drink my eight glasses of water, and take breaks for healthy meals.
**Remember to stretch your neck and back. I set a timer for ten minutes throughout my work hours. Every ten minutes, I stop and do neck rolls, side bends, and back stretches. It only takes a minute, but it both lengthens the amount of time I can stay at the computer and lets me finish a work day without headaches and backaches. Every single time that I skip the exercises to save writing time, I pay later by having to quit early and having headaches interrupt my sleep.
**Give yourself a reward. Create little rewards throughout the writing day (like ten minutes of reading your favorite mystery for every hour you write) and rewards at the end of the day (a favorite DVD or dinner with a friend). I used to think rewards were silly and childish–and maybe they are–but they work!
What habits work for you during crunch times? Leave a comment with your best tip!