Thursday, October 18, 2012

NaNoWriMo Success 3 - What to do next

You have successfully prepared for NaNoWriMo, drafted your 50,000 words, and met your goals. Now what?
  • Celebrate and thank people - You have plenty of reason to feel good about yourself. You've done it (and, if you kept to NaNoWriMo's rules, at a blistering pace). Reward yourself so you remember how this feels. Also, take the time to thank all those who nudged you, answered a questions, calmed your nerves, drove the kids to soccer, or missed a party so this could happen. Your mentors, writing buddies, friends, and families deserve your gratitude and a share of your success. Just be sure not to give them the impression that you are now done with writing. They'll need to support you, one way or another, from now on.
  • Give it a rest - The work you just did is still humming in your head. Bad parts look good and good parts look bad. Even though you have a thousand ideas for revision (which you can jot down), don't go back and read your manuscript now. Wait a month (Stephen King says six weeks). Mark a date on your calendar to begin revisions.
  • But don't lose momentum - Put your manuscript aside, but don't put aside the habits and skills you have acquired. Start something new. Keep writing every day. You don't need to keep up the frenetic pace of NaNoWriMo, but please don't give yourself a vacation. You've invested too much to waste your commitment and development as a writer.
  • Consider a post mortem - Look at your experience as a project and consider what worked, what didn't, and what you might do differently in the future. As you do this, don't forget that NaNoWriMo is part stunt. Some of what you did may not become part of your day-in-day-out approach to writing.
  • Document your lessons - Since you probably tried new methods and pushed or altered old ones, it is a great time to update your process journal with revisions and additions.
  • Rewrite - After you have let your manuscript rest, you can start exploring and reshaping it. Don't be surprised or disappointed if it is different from what you remember. Just get on with the task of making it wonderful.
  • Submit - When you manuscript is just the way you want it, share it. This may mean handing it off to trusted readers or submitting it to agents and/or editors, or self publishing.
That's it. Congratulations on finishing your book. And welcome to the world of writers.

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