A Writer’s Guide to What to Do After NaNoWriMo

A Writer’s Guide to What to Do After NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo), and a large number of people worked hard throughout the month to write a novel – or 50,000 words – in 30 days or less.

You read that right: An entire novel in less than 30 days.

Everyone has their own opinion of NaNoWriMo, be it good or bad. But opinions aside, every year thousands of people join in and a good number of them reach that goal.

But what happens when it’s all over? What do you do come December?

You keep writing. You take the momentum you’ve built through November and maintain it. You continue your progress. You don’t stop – it isn’t over. In fact, this is just the beginning.

Whether you finished your novel or only made it halfway to the end, you’ve learned something important: The secret of NaNoWriMo is that winning is not the ultimate goal.

This is only the tip of what you’ve learned.

You’ve learned how much time and commitment it takes to write a book.  You’ve also learned that NaNoWriMo is all about speed and quantity, rather than quality – that’s what shitty first drafts are always about, of course.

You’ve learned how many words a day is perfect for you. Maybe writing 1,667 words a day was too much for you. Maybe it wasn’t enough. Either way, you’ve learned from that experience – that you need to lower your daily word count goals to feel comfortable or that you can write far more than you originally believed you could.

Both are valuable pieces of information.

You’ve learned that you have problems coming up with characters and conflict off the top of your head – or that characters that live and breathe come so easy to you.  Now you can relax and develop those characters and conflict as much as you’d like, or work on learning better techniques that help you create characters easily.

These are extremely important things to know about yourself – especially if you want to be the author you’ve always dreamed of being.

Your success as an author depends on what you learned from the NaNoWriMo experience; whether you can finish your draft or not, how much time and preparation you need to write a cohesive story, and where you are in relation to where you want to be.

NaNoWriMo shouldn’t give you a winner’s medal or a loser’s shame – it should give you vital information about yourself that helps you achieve your dream of being an author.

Whether you “won” NaNoWriMo or not, sit down and evaluate what the experience taught you.  Think about what you’ve learned about yourself and writing.  Start a journal about writing and jot down your thoughts. You may discover interesting facts or new keys that help you grow.

And remember: there are eleven other months of the year to write as well!

Post by Kari

Kari is a full-time content manager, editor and in-house blogger at Men With Pens. In her spare time, she writes fiction and is working on her first novel.

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  1. To read is fundamental to write is divine.

    Excellent tips its good to see people becoming creative.

    I agree with you on NaNoWriMo. The only shame should be in sitting it out and not taking action when you know you should.

    The only thing people have to loose is time and well its only the most valuable and important thing in existence.

    Do you expect NaNoWriMo to get bigger next year?

    • At some point, the NaNoWriMo market will probably saturate. Personally, I’m not sure if it’s going to grow anymore.

      What I would like more than anything else is for people to realize that they’re NOT failures for not “winning” NaNo. It seems like it has become more about getting those badges and the certificate at the end of the month than it is actually writing a first draft of a novel.

      And afterwards–well, there’s still work to be done on your novel if you want to publish it. I think it’s a great boost for people to start being creative and to kick that nasty habit of procrastination down the street, but a lot of people think that in 30 days they’ll have a publishable novel and well, that usually doesn’t happen.

      I personally love NaNo — but I don’t always participate because 1667 words is a LOT for me to write every day.

  2. I didn’t officially participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo, but I did finish a book within 30 days. It can be done as long as your disciplined and focused and have the guts to tell your friends and family that you have a novel to write. Please Do Not Disturb. :)

  3. While I strive to write everyday, just the mindset I get in because of NaNoWriMo is enough to amp up my productivity.

  4. I just compeleted my first year of NaNoWriMo with 76K words. For me, it wasn’t about hitting that 50K. I hit that on November 20th. If it had been, I would have stopped at that point. No, for me, it was just about getting as much done of my first draft as possible. I felt sad whenever I saw someone giving up just because they were behind. It’s not about the word count. It’s about writing. If you get behind, you’ve still written, keep writing, even if you write fewer words than is the goal. To paraphrase a certain fish in a certain cartoon. “Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing.” This month I think I’ve written less than 2000 words so far. Yesterday I wrote a grand total of six words, but hey, I wrote.

  5. I have learned something new and here I thought November was only a no shave month for men’s health. Go figure I should have been writing novel why my beard was growing to be a duck dynasy wannabe. I will for sure remember next November the NaNoWriMo! This would be a grate kick in the butt to try to write into action and be inspired with others doing the same!

    Thanks for the educating me on this!

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