Congratulations! You survived the month! With the immediate NaNoWriMo challenge out of the way for many the question remaining is what now? This blog is going to give you some options on what to do with your hard written efforts and getting back to a regular writing routine.
The Proof Read and Preliminary Edit
With any luck you now have a draft of a novel, even if it’s just a shadow of one. This is great! You can’t edit a blank page, and one of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it provides you with a building block to start constructing your novel.
The first thing you should do after NaNoWriMo (after a week break from your manuscript) is do a proof read and a basic edit. This is forging your draft into something readable while also shaping it into something that you can really work with. This is a good way to delete what you don’t need, add what you do, expand on events and descriptions, and make note of any plot holes or character building you need to do.
Your mind will automatically pick up the problems you need to fix but it might also surprise you on what you have written. Getting in the NaNoWriMo challenge zone means that you don’t have time to contemplate on whether or not you have written a good sentence or a bad one, so this first read through will allow you to stop and smell the literary roses. You wrote the first draft of a novel in a month, this is a HUGE achievement so celebrate what you like about your draft and fix what you don’t.
Share If You Care To
NaNoWriMo champions are legion. If you are lucky enough to have some writing pals or NaNoWriMo group of friends, why not take the opportunity to share your experiences, or even your drafts after an edit, with each other?
Showing your work to anyone can be an intimidating prospect but a fellow NaNoWriMo champion or a beta reader friend can help you move out of the first draft headspace and give you some valuable feedback.
You are still going to be very close to your project so a fresh set of eyes can help you find many of those pesky plot holes. It can also be a fun way of sharing your badly written sentences together over wine and laughs. It’s been a stressful time (especially if you have been juggling NaNoWriMo with a full time job and family) so celebrating your victory with other writers and friends will help with a much needed recharge.
Taking NaNoWriMo Lessons On Board
NaNoWriMo is about writing a novel in a month. But more importantly it is about cultivating a writing discipline. Now you know that you can write 1500 words a day. That is an impressive goal to maintain but what about 500 words a day? You had the writing chops to do triple that.
To be a writer you have to write every day. Picking an achievable daily goal goes a long way when working on a project. Setting out to write a novel is an intimidating undertaking. The average novel is about 80,000 words which is enough to unsettle even the most experienced writer. Yet if you are writing 500 words a day that means you will have hit your target in 160 days. Breaking it down to bite size chunks makes it a lot less daunting.
First drafts can often be the hardest and the most enjoyable part of writing a novel. By finishing the NaNoWriMo challenge you have achieved the first step in getting your novel finished. Giving your draft a good proof and edit, gathering feedback from your betas and maintaining your writing muscles will ensure you are well on your way to getting that first draft nailed down.