December is finally here! Some of you have completed NaNoWriMo, some of you didn’t make it, and some didn’t attempt it. Today I want to look at what comes next for novel writers. What do we do with ourselves now that the official Novel Writing Month is over for another year?
Option 1: You Won NaNoWriMo!!!
Holy crap, you should be so proud of yourself. You wrote fifty thousand words in a month (or less) . Remember in school when you would get assignments to write 1000 words in six weeks and you’d moan, “That’s impossible!!”? Well, you just did that fifty times over for fun! You beautiful weirdo!
So, what comes next? You have two options here. If you reached 50k and your story isn’t over yet, try to keep rolling with the momentum and get it written. Or, if the story is done (or you’re feeling burned out) stick that masterpiece in a drawer for a few months. Wait for all the mistakes and instances of bad writing to mature and ripen like stinky blue cheese. Distance yourself from your project after you have reached a stopping point, and come back to it with fresh eyes for the first of many rounds of redrafting. I like to leave at least a month between rounds of editing, just so I forget what I’ve written.
Also, it isn’t uncommon for Nano participants to feel a little slumpy when all the hype has died down. But don’t worry, your inspiration will return. Rest, relax, bask in your victory, and try to read and do a couple of writing exercises when you’re feeling up to it.
Option 2: You Took Part But Lost NaNoWriMo
I’m in this category. My laptop died a glorious death halfway through. I was disappointed, but I’m not too upset, because I know that I can write any time I want to. And, I have 23,000 words of a new novel that I can continue working on now!
Novel writing doesn’t have to be an activity saved just for November. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that NaNoWriMo is over. You can keep going. Be your own inspiration, and push yourself to achieve your goals.
Whether you wrote 1 word, or 49,999, holy crap, you should be so proud of yourself. Life gets in the way, and committing to something as intensive as NaNo isn’t always possible. But you should be so proud of yourself for trying.
Keep going. Keep writing. Set yourself a deadline, or gather your writer friends (if you don’t have any then I’m more than willing to help – find me on Instagram @marielipscombwriting ) and keep yourself, and each other, accountable. Sometimes we can bash out a story in a month, sometimes it takes a decade. However long it takes, know that you’re contributing something to our culture and that in itself is amazing.
Option 3: You Didn’t Participate
Perhaps NaNo just didn’t appeal to you this year. Perhaps it never has and never will appeal to you. Perhaps you’ve never even heard of it (in which case this has probably been a confusing read for you, and I apologize). Whatever the case, just keep doing your own thing. You’ve got this. And holy crap, you should be so proud of yourself. Going it alone isn’t easy, but you’re doing it.
If you didn’t take part because you couldn’t think of anything to write, then try to do as many writing exercises as possible. Try flash fiction, free writing, write about anything, but try to do it every day. Even if it’s just a sentence. Keep a diary of your little ideas and exercises, and I promise you that eventually you will have an idea that sticks in your head and becomes a full story. And the best thing is, you don’t have to wait until next November to start working on it. Any month is Novel Writing Month if you write a novel in it.
Thank you for reading, and I hope this helps you feel good about what you’ve achieved. And you should feel good, no matter how last month went for you. Keep writing.