There’s a good chance that a lot of readers of this blog will have finished NanoWriMo this year. Congratulations to you all! Sitting somewhere on your computer is a partially completed 50,000 word mini-novel, just aching to be shared with the world. I’m not exception. Despite some time vacuums appearing that I’d not anticipated, I finished all 50,000 words. It was a difficult decision – but I decided that I needed to schedule some posts, put aside the blog for a month and concentrate on writing. It paid dividends, and my novel is nearly there, and the blog is still going strong! If you’re like me though, on the first of December you probably had a strange feeling settle over you. What should you do after NanoWriMo?
I’m sorry to say, but the work is not over yet! Below are a few tips to keep you writing – and give you some time to bask in the achievement of being a NanoWriMo winner.
1. Identify your productive new habits
Whether you made the 50,000 words or not, the chances are that during November you managed to get some serious writing in. So have a look back at the month and start to identify what changes you made to remove distractions and set up a routine. How did you manage to get to your final word count? Writers have a tendency to only dwell on the defeats, the rejections. So do the opposite. Look at the positive end you’ve had to the month, and see what you did you get into that position.
2. Finish the story
This first point might not apply to everyone, but some writers will have reached 50,000 words and not yet reached the end of the story. That’s fine. Most novels run longer than 50k, so you shouldn’t feel pressured into finishing your story within the word limit. It seems a strange thing to say when you’ve written at least 1,666 words a day for an entire month. Yes, you’ve reached that big shining 50,000 word target, but a lot of stories aren’t finished by then.
The story has to drive your wordcount, not the other way around. Have a look at this post if you’re having trouble keeping yourself motivated.
3. Get editing
If your story is done and you’re happy with that first draft, you can dive into the next stage of a new novel’s life – the edit. What you’ve written over the month of November might be the best thing you’ve ever written. Conversely, it might be a jumble of words that you put to paper purely to beat the wordcount. Most likely, it’s somewhere in between. So, after NanoWriMo month it’s time to look back over the manuscript and start to make some changes. There’s a really good post on editing your first novel (although worth a read whatever your experience) at the Creative Penn.
4. Start talking about your story
If you’re an independent authour like me, it’s never to early to start talking about your books. Regular readers of Write with Phil will notice that my latest book, The Unjudged, has been ‘coming soon’ for a while. That hasn’t stopped me getting a mock up cover designed, and putting it on the blog. The more you talk about your story the more people will want to read it. That’s going to come in useful for the next piece of advice.
5. Ask someone to read it
I’m a big believer in getting your work read by as many people as possible. This is an early draft, though, so you may want to limit the numbers at this stage. This first read (some call it an alpha read) should only be with one or two people maximum. You shouldn’t ask them for detailed notes and they definitely shouldn’t be looking for spelling mistakes or typos. What you should be asking them is – how does this book feel? Does the story make sense? Can they follow the main plot points, or is something not clear?
6. Don’t stop writing after NanoWriMo
Now that NanoWriMo is finished, it is time to look at your plans for the rest of December. Perhaps you want to put your feet up, have a cup of tea and a not go near the story? Everyone has their own process, of course. But far better is to retain some of the good writing habits you’ve picked up during the month. Whether you’re editing, still getting to the end of draft one, or moving on to something different (like blogging), keep writing!