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!