From the Trenches: NaNo’s “Now What?” Revisions

From the trenches: NaNo's "What Now?" revisions. 3 ways to make your editing productive.Greetings! Cristina here, coming to you from the land of “why the heck did I do this to myself?” I’ve been incredibly absent from twitter and The Sprint Shack as of late, and while there are many, many reasons, this is a big one:


Yes, I’m aware that November is long gone. I’m not sitting in my room, stabbing at the “update word count” button and wondering why it feels like the equivalent of chasing a carrot on a treadmill. But I am, in fact, working on  my NaNoWriMo novel.

As you may recall, we mentioned back in December that NaNoWriMo is extending its frenzied writing initiatives to January and February. This month and next are now deemed the “Now What?” months, in which various NaNoWriMo participants are promising to revise their novels and making use of numerous resources provided by the NaNoWriMo crew in order to do so. Some of the goodies provided include webinars, pep talks, and blogs, all geared toward reinvigorating the NaNo community and providing revising writers the support they need to tame their unruly 50k word-beasts.

I’m one of those participants, and with only two loosely revised chapters completed 1/3 of the way through the Now What? period, I have a few tips for those who plan on being more productive than myself during their revisions–for NaNoWriMo or otherwise:

1) Structure your revisions. I can’t stress this enough. After having to push out 50k in one month, fixing up that draft in sixty days may seem like no big feat. But remember: most novels are more than 50k, so not only will you be polishing what you have, you’ll likely be adding to it, too. If your novel is already a satisfactory length or even too long, that means there’s still endless tightening, cutting, and rearranging to do. I never realized until embarking on this project just how much work (and, I’ll admit it, raw despair) goes into revising. Leave both months totally open with no weekly or even daily goals, and you’ll probably wind up where I am now.

2) Make yourself accountable. Blog about your revisions, tweet about them, take the pledge on NaNo’s website. Do all you can to let the world know, “hey, I’m revising! Make fun of me if I don’t succeed!”

NaNoWriMo’s brand spankin’ new revision badge. Get it by pledging to revise your novel, here!

As Taylor’s said before, one of the best ways to keep yourself from slipping up is by letting the world know what you’re up to or even starting a bet with someone in the same boat. (I blame my lackluster Twitter presence as of late for my even worse resolve).

3) Reward yourself. If weeks two and three in NaNoWriMo are tough–and they are–it’s because the rush of the beginning has worn off and the end is still a long ways off. And that’s just in one month. How do you think you’ll feel over a period twice as long? Make sure you recognize your accomplishments, reward yourself for your work, and, finally, be easy on yourself. A final manuscript takes much more than just one revision, so if you need to cut a few corners to get through the whole work in the allotted time frame, do so. It’s more important that you address the larger issues throughout the story as a whole  than it is to fix every spelling error and comma splice the first time around. That way, you know where you have to go in future revisions, rather than having to pick up where you left off.

Are you revising your NaNo novels? Another work of your own? Let us know–I know I’d love to know I’m not alone!


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