Your Mindful NaNoWriMo Part IV: Mindful Re-Starts

This is the fourth of a month-long series, so to start at the beginning, head on over here.


So, NaNo friends, we’ve got only 9 days left (*cue cursing and scrambling for laptops*). Unfortunately, this is what my NaNo stats currently are:




Clearly in order to “win” NaNo, as they say, I’m going to have to get my ass in gear. And it’s just possible that I won’t hit that 50K by Dec. 1, but I’m going to try like hell to anyway.  Things came up, and, of course, the holidays are upon us. But I have to be honest: I didn’t structure my days as I knew I needed to. I’m the kind of writer who has to write for four hours straight after she’s finished with her (albeit too long) morning routine. If I don’t get those words in before I break for lunch, I can bet money that few, if any, words will be written. Take today for instance. Not only did I not meditate this morning before I sat down to write (I know, I know – it’s like a doctor who smokes), but I checked my email before I started writing: THIS IS ALWAYS A BAD IDEA. I had a good reason, but, you know what? I * always * have a good reason. Suddenly, I’m on LinkedIn because I see a random notification in my inbox, which was NOT why I was in my inbox in the first place, and–poof!–there goes two hours of my morning. Suddenly I’m revamping my entire LinkedIn profile, which feels absolutely essential in the moment, but is absolutely NOT. Argh. Total mindfulness meltdown. Observe how I even constructed a freaking background photo because, you know, that is totally do or die.

I’ve only got 800 words written today and it’s 3:48. By the time I post this, it’ll be 4:00, which is dangerously close to 5:00…and my celebratory glass of wine is now going to be much, much later than I thought. I’m going to spend the rest of the night writing, but I’ve only got so much juice in me. So who knows what I’ll end up with. You’ve been here too, right? You know yourself, you do, and when you screw up, you often know exactly how and why. (And if you don’t, I can help with that – email me! Shameless coaching promo, I couldn’t resist.).

So this is how we mindful the fuck out of this situation:

One of my favorite quotes that I think applies to both meditation / mindfulness, writing, and life in general is by the Buddhist teacher, Sharon Salzberg:




In meditation, we usually concentrate on something, be it the breath, a mantra, sound – what-have-you. Inevitably, the mind will wander (as minds are wont to do). The moment we practice mindfulness is when we realize our minds have wandered and we gently bring ourselves back to the breath, or object of concentration. We don’t beat ourselves up or get frustrated or feel like we totally wasted this entire meditation session. We just breathe. We get back on the mindfulness train. And then we’re off to the races.

Same goes for being low on your word count, whether it’s for NaNo or some other deadline. You can’t go back, right? So be mindful of where you’re at right now, in this present moment. Acknowledge that your intention slipped and congratulate yourself for getting back on track. Assess the situation: do you need to switch up your goals? Change things in your life to get that writing done? What are the conditions in which you write best, and how can you get those together so you can rock your word count?

If you’re totally at a loss, start by tracking how you spend your day. Go hour by hour and see where you were, what you were doing. Chances are, you’ll see lots of places where the writing could have happened, but you prioritized something else, for good or ill (ahem, LinkedIn). Also, shit happens. Your kid gets sick, or you have to cover someone’s shift, or you had the worst day ever and needed a pick-me-up, not a word-marathon. That’s okay. Whatever is going on, just begin again. Whatever that looks like for you.

It’s really as simple as that.

That’s the beauty of art, and of living: we can always begin again. No shame. No guilt. No self-hatred. Just beginning.

Forgive Yourself. Be gentle. Be intentional. You’ve got this–whether or not you win NaNo, you’re certainly going to be winning life. Here is some additional inspiration, courtesy of Zen Pencils, one of the coolest things in the world right now.

Rock on, friend.


Breathe. Write. Repeat. 


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As usual, you can sign up for my newsletter for exclusive posts on the writing life, meditation and mindfulness for creatives, and more. If you’re a lady writer, please join us on the Pneuma Facebook Group for daily inspiration, motivation, and community. If you’re interested in working with me as a writing coach, don’t be shy: email me and I’ll get back to you ASAP. You can also check out the Pneuma Creative site for coaching, editorial, and class info. Happy writing! 


Art Credits:

Wavy Sharon Salzberg quote = unknown, but via



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