Did You “Win” NaNoWriMo?
Did you “win” NaNo? Are you already intoxicated by the sweet smell of success? Congratulations—you’ve earned it!
Let’s talk about what you should—and shouldn’t—do for your next steps. Don’t make these mistakes with your NaNoWriMo Novel.
Congratulations! You Won NaNoWriMo! What’s Next?
Those who didn’t make it learned some valuable lessons about writing, themselves, and their approach to writing—so truly, there is no such thing as NOT winning NaNoWriMo because whether you make that 50,000-word count or not, you’re a better writer now than you were a month ago.
So whether you’ve already finished your first draft or you expect to do so sometime next year, here are three things you shouldn’t do when you cross the finish line:
1. Don’t throw anything away.
Is your 50,000-word first draft ready for publication? Of course not—but neither should it be deleted from your hard drive. Yes, allegedly there are writers who do that, but please do NOT become one of them.
Even if you’re a writer who believes the act of putting your butt in a seat for 30 days and churning out the bones of a novel is enough of a reward without having to ever read what you wrote, please believe that you’ve written some gems.
Okay, maybe you’ll delete some—or most—of those 50,000 words, but save them in a separate folder. In a month or two, you may reread a well-turned phrase you’d forgotten about and will have a brainstorm for an entirely new scene . . . or character . . . or novel!
2. Don’t begin editing your manuscript.
You’ve spent plus or minus thirty days with this manuscript—and if you outlined in October, that number goes up. Believe me, now is NOT the time to begin editing. You’re too close to your story, and let’s face it—you’ve had an exhausting, emotional month.
Do a happy dance, pat yourself on the back, announce to the world (or at least your Facebook friends) that YOU DID IT, and then put your manuscript away for a while.
For how long? Opinions vary on this one, but long enough that when you open it up again, the story feels new and fresh in that “I can’t believe I wrote this” way. That might be a month or a year, but it shouldn’t be tomorrow. Give yourself some time away to gain a little perspective, and you’ll have more clarity once you being to edit and revise.
Taking a very rough first draft and molding it into a saleable novel will require some ruthless revising and self-editing, so give yourself enough time away to gain perspective.
3. Don’t stop writing.
If you’re like most NaNoWriMo authors, you’re pretty excited about ending November with 50,000 words—maybe you have the first draft of a novel, maybe only a third of a longer manuscript, but nevertheless, you’ve written a bodacious number of words in 30 days, and you’ve accomplished something pretty spectacular.
So why quit now? You’ve proven to yourself that you can make the time to write every day, so wrap your mind around that new reality and keep writing.
In my book, every writer who even attempts NaNoWriMo is a winner. And although I know it will be a few months before those drafts are polished enough to make their way to an editor, I’m already looking forward to the day when that happens. For an editor, the thrill is in peeking under the hood, so to speak, and helping to polish a novel that was only an idea in your head a mere month ago. I can’t wait!
Look forward to our
Systemized Self-Editing Masterclass
with Candace Johnson
coming to the Writers’ Mastermind in 2021!
In the meantime, check out all of our writing and book marketing classes for free
and join us for Zoom write-ins, live mastermind sessions, and more.