We are into December now, and NaNo has come and gone. Hope you had fun with it this year! We’re now into the holiday season, cold weather season, and for anyone working retail, the very, very busy season. You’re probably (if you’re anything like me) running a bit crazy with everything you have to get done this month, you’re planning out your indiecember reads, and you’re also looking at you NaNo Work in Progress (WIP) longingly. Here are the three best things you can do now that NaNo has ended.
1) Plan to finish the novel
You know what’s interesting about NaNo? 50,000 words is the minimum needed to qualify as a novel. I’ve seen a lot of people on social media saying that either A) they didn’t reach the 50,000 word goal or B) they did, and the novel is just now entering Act 2. First of all, let’s be clear – there’s nothing wrong with either of those. You participated, you made progress, and you should be proud of that.
Now let’s finish this thing.
You don’t need to maintain the breakneck pace of NaNo to finish your novel. Decide what would be a reasonable goal to have completed the first draft based on how much progress you made during NaNo and how much you want to write in a single month. If you did 30,000 words during NaNo and it never felt stressful, you can probably keep that pace up. If you did 30,000 words during NaNo and found it was exhausting and draining, try setting your goal for the month to be 15,000 words. Figure out what works for you now that you know what you can do when you’re at a breakneck pace. In fact, you should take some time to…
2) Decide what NaNo habits to keep
If you wrote for the entire month, you probably developed some writing habits. Some of them, like having a regular schedule and sprinting, were good. Others, like staying up too late to write and injecting coffee directly into your veins, were probably not.
Take this time to look at the habits you’ve developed during NaNo. Make a list of what you did differently in November compared to October. You should keep the ones that made you more productive without negatively impacting your happiness and quality of life, and junk the ones that didn’t help or made you miserable. Remember that writing is supposed to be fun, and keep doing whatever made writing a more enjoyable process.
3) Don’t edit yet
This is a big mistake I made in the past, finishing NaNo and trying to jump straight into the editing phase. The end result was frustration and a strong temptation to junk the entire novel. Every single flaw of the novel was magnified, and everything that was good about it was muted. Talking to another friend of mine, they had the opposite problem – after looking at their NaNo WIP, they saw it as perfect, not needing a single semicolon changed.
Both extremes are wrong.
The problem is you’ve spent the last 30 days living and breathing this novel. It’s consumed your entire life for a month, like a brand new relationship where you’re incredibly into your partner. And just like a new relationship, it’s hard to be objective at this point. Give the novel a month before you go back to edit it. Give it time to simmer, to rest, and then in January come back with fresh eyes and a red pen.
Trust me; you’re going to need it.
Have any more advice for the post NaNo period? Let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to pick up your free book here!