NaNoWriMo is about writing a novel. Throughout November, we bleed, sweat and cry out words, until 50,000 of them sit on our computers. Those words are still there now, squirrelled away in our document files, waiting to receive some love and attention, waiting to be groomed and made presentable, waiting for a bit of polish… and for many NaNo novels, they’ll still be waiting years from now. Why is that? Because so many people abandon their writing after NaNoWriMo.
That’s understandable at first. You’ve just gone through a 30 day writing marathon. You’re mentally and physically exhausted, you have a backlog of work to tend to, and on top of that, you should probably inform friends and family that you’re actually still alive. A break from writing is just what you need—and a short break is perfectly okay. It’s when that ‘short break’ spins out into weeks and months of writing inactivity that it becomes a problem.
NaNoWriMo throws us into gear and propels us forward. Don’t let that momentum die away just because November is over. The challenge of writing 50,000 words is only the first step towards a much larger goal: a finished novel. The only way to do that is to keep writing in your life after NaNoWriMo.
What if I haven’t finished my first draft?
The folks who run NaNoWriMo encourage you to write a complete novel in 50,000 words, but if you didn’t quite get that far or only got partway through your story by the time you hit 50k, then finishing your first draft is at the top of the To Do list.
Fortunately for you, NaNo might be over, but the word sprinting mania that went with it certainly isn’t. @TheSprintShack runs daily sprints and there are a whole host of other fantastic Twitter accounts that hold their own weekly sprinting events. You can find a list of the sprinters here and their events here. Take advantage of the productivity boost they give you and finish that first draft.
I’ve completed my first draft. What now?
NaNoWriMo has dedicated January and February to revision and publishing tips, dubbing them the “What Now?” Months. Here’s a taste of the things they’ll be doing to help novelists who want to turn their stories from fluffy first drafts to sleek finished products:
- Advice articles posted on the official NaNoWriMo blog
- Pep talks from professional authors to motivate, inspire and guide the revision process
- Webinars with publishing experts and NaNo-novelists
- Discussions across the Twittersphere about where to go with your story now
But if you can’t wait until the New Year to start editing your NaNo novel, you can check out the Now What? resources from last year right here.
I have no motivation without NaNoWriMo. What can I do?
If the challenge element of NaNoWriMo motivated you the most, there are plenty of other writing challenges for you to join.
There’s the #WIPMarathon, which is great for keeping yourself accountable. With the challenge of tweeting your goals and posting weekly WIP updates to your blog, there’s motivation aplenty to make progress and have something to talk about. Not only that, there’s a growing network of supportive writing buddies that can be found through the #WIPMarathon hashtag. Find yourself some writing friends and drink in the motivation—and spread some yourself in turn!
Another long-term challenge to get you writing is #Nerdlution. Set yourself a resolution-like goal (or several) and work towards it for 50 days. The latest round of #Nerdlution began on December 2nd and ends on January 20th, but it’s not too late to join!
Then there’s the Write Chain Challenge, which emphasises daily writing in the hopes of making it a habit. Set yourself a daily writing goal and, every day you achieve it, you get a link. Pretty soon you’ll be wielding a fully-fledged Write Chain.
Okay, I’m feeling more optimistic now. Anymore advice?
Keep writing. Just because the caffeine-fuelled rush of NaNoWriMo is over doesn’t mean that work on your story has to end with it. You achieved something incredible during November. Don’t let that momentum die away. Take advantage of it, join another writing challenge to keep yourself accountable, carry on the word sprinting if that first draft isn’t finished or use the editing resources to whip that messy WIP into shape if it is.
Go out there and finish that novel.
What’s your plan for writing now that NaNoWriMo is over? Do you know of any other writing challenges that are good motivators? Tell us in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’d love to hear your thoughts on life after NaNoWriMo.
Also, if you’d like us to keep you accountable, email us and let us know your goals, on a weekly or monthly basis. We’ll send a check-in email each week to see how you’re doing!