It’s no wonder that so many authors are considered a little ‘quirky.’ Writing a novel is a pretty tough undertaking. The hours are long and lonely, the self-doubt is overwhelming at times, and then there’s the possibility that you might be rejected over and over and over again.
Any writer that has taken on the mammoth task of writing a novel knows that there are times during the process where they feel as though they are on the edge of a precipice - one step closer and they’ll fall, and descend into a madness from which they cannot escape!
Immersing yourself in a fictional world, waking up in the middle of the night overcome with an idea, or sweating with anxiety because you’ve realised something doesn’t work or you’ve got to kill off a character that you love, can all make you feel a little crazy. Let's also not forget those days that turn into weeks that turn into months when you realise you’ve barely spoken to anyone else, washed properly or eaten something other than sandwiches too!
So what can you do to stay sane when writing a novel? Here are some handy tips to help you step back from the edge of that precipice and remain firmly in the real world.
Go outside every day
Make sure you make an effort to get outside every day. Even if it’s just for a brisk stroll or to head to the shops. Being cooped up inside your home for days on end is not healthy. Plus there is lots of inspiration out there in the big wide world, so go and experience it!
Have a good sleep routine
Don’t let your writing take over your life so much that you end up falling asleep at your desk at 4 am every morning. You need to have a good sleep routine to stay at your most focused and productive - never underestimate how important this is.
Get up early and start being productive right away
Start each day on the right foot by getting up early and getting to work straight away. If you’ve achieved loads by mid morning you’ll feel great!
Eat good, nutritious meals, get some exercise, stay hydrated, lay off the caffeine and the wine! It can be easy to let your health slip when you spend hours hunched over your desk all day, but when it all catches up with you you’ll end up feeling sluggish and miserable - so pay attention to your health and you’ll be doing yourself and your writing a big favour in the long run.
Don’t abandon your family and friends
Believe it or not, there are some things that are more important than writing a book. Don’t let your relationships with family and friends suffer -they will be your support network and biggest fans when your book is finished after all. Always make sure you spend quality time with family and friends and don’t make it all about your writing all the time.
It can be so easy to feel disheartened when we suffer rejection or simply let those critical voices in our heads take over. Try to stay positive, and if you feel yourself getting too worked up and overwhelmed take a break, read experiences from other authors. This will help you realise you're not alone and remind yourself you are doing something pretty awesome and should be proud, whether you become a famous author or not.
Step away if you need to
Remember, your novel isn’t going anywhere, so if you need to take a break from it for a few days, a week, perhaps even longer, then that’s fine. Consider it giving yourself a much needed holiday. You’ll probably come back to it feeling refreshed and inspired, which will only help to make your novel even better anyway.
It’s important to stay sane during the writing process! If you do find yourself going a little crazy, try to follow the above tips and you’ll feel all the better for it - plus your writing will be better too!
I believe I have pretty much followed most of these while writing my memoir. I now wonder what, if at all, I should attempt a novel about. I really want to get back on my diary novel.
I try to get out each day, even if it's only for a while. It gets hard to drive in the heat we are having in my neck of the woods right now (and it's expected to be even hotter in the coming days!) I'm at the center where I work three days a week, where I'm with others like me. And on other days, I try to go to other places just to be out for a while. I get fatigued easily, falling asleep during the daytime. My psychiatrist thinks it's because I'm not getting enough exercise, which has been hard to do in the heat. Just walking has been hard in such hot weather. What else can I do?
Trying to find an editor has been hard so far. One nearby service I've been able to locate charges .02 a word! (according the message they left on my phone). I don't think I can afford that. For a while, I felt I should forget even thinking about trying to get my story published. That was one thing I had trouble staying positive about. Right now, I'm not sure where else to look. This is something I need to be working on, and I'm getting anxiety over trying to start looking again.
As someone prone to anxiety and panicking, I've done my best to be sane during the writing process. It has mostly gone well.