It’s December. We made it! I hope you completed your NaNoWriMo novel. It’s hard to beat the feeling of submitting that draft on the website.
And if you didn’t complete NaNoWriMo, that’s okay. Make a schedule to finish your draft this month. NaNoWriMo can be any month you want it to be as long as you put in the time and effort.
Very few people can say they’ve even completed a draft of a novel, and you did. You can always be proud of the fact that you created 50,000 words of a story. You deserve to feel accomplished and proud.
Think back on your experience through the month. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about your creativity? What did you learn about your story? How did the process surprise you?
When I completed NaNoWriMo, everything about it surprised me: how fun it was, how hard it was, how creative I could be. And honestly, that I did it at all.
Ever since then, whenever I’m faced with a difficult long-term challenge or obstacle, I think back to NaNoWriMo. I remember how I decided I could write 2,000 words a day in one month, and that I did it. If I can do that, I can do almost anything.
I hope you learned that you can overcome those big challenges, too.
But while you’re basking in glory, I’m sure you’re also wondering one thing: What next?
Take a writing break
First, take the rest of the week or maybe even month off from this particular work. Your brain needs a break though your subconscious will continue puzzling over the draft and where you might make changes or edits.
Don’t act on any of those ideas. Just write your thoughts in a notebook or on your phone so you can refer to them later.
With your time away from your draft, read a masterwork of your draft’s genre. Search Google or chat with your local bookseller for recommendations. You’ll learn so much from masterworks about how to write great scenes and about the obligatory scenes of your chosen genre.
Plus, you’ll have a great excuse to read a great book.
Note that during this break, you may decide never touch or look at or think about your NaNoWriMo draft again. That is perfectly fine. I’ve never touched my NaNoWriMo drafts. You have permission to stop caring about them.
But if this is how you feel, don’t think you wasted a month. Your organization and creativity to draft 50,000 words were all training and preparation for your next creative work.
Getting back to work
After your break, if you want to keep working on your draft, start thinking about how you can incorporate your writing habits from November into your day-to-day writing and creative work. Did you find a time of day where you were most creative? A spot in your house or in your neighborhood where you were most productive? Try to incorporate anything that really worked for your creative process day-to-day going forward.
A good first step for working on your draft is doing a full read-through of your draft yourself. In this blog series, I recommended making some pretty radical changes to your novel without any regard for what you wrote before. Now is the time to work on making your draft one cohesive story.
The best next step may even be a full rewrite of your draft. If this is what you think is best, again, don’t feel like you wasted time in November. Consider all of your original work the effort and learning you needed to give yourself the vision for an even better draft.
Congratulations once again. Completing NaNoWriMo is no small feat. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Keep writing, and let me know if you ever want to chat about stories.
Jay Peters is a Seattle-based writer and editor who offers manuscript editing and developmental editing at jaympeters.com. He’s happy to chat with you about your NaNoWriMo story — just email him through his website. In his spare time, he likes to run through the city and read in the most comfortable chair he can find.