It’s December 1, which means NaNoWriMo has ended! Some of you may have finished 50,000 words or even a full draft, while others have a partial draft with a long way to go. So now that NaNoWriMo is over, what’s next?
What to do:
- Finish your draft
Even if you hit 50,000 words, most likely your draft isn’t finished; in most genres, 50k isn’t a full novel. I know from my own NaNo experience that it can be easy to lose momentum in December—the holidays are coming up, you no longer have that hard deadline or community to motivate you, and all of those other things that you neglected during November have to be done, too. But it’s important to get as much of your draft written now as you can. It’s all too easy to take a break now, decide to take a longer break during the holidays, and not return to your draft until January, at which point it will be much harder to dive back in. Finishing the draft now, while it’s all still fresh, is essential. Even if you can’t keep up the NaNo pace during December—few of us can!—try to squeeze words in. Keep going; you’re almost there!
After all the stress of November, be sure to take the time to celebrate. Whether you won NaNo or not, you took on something incredibly challenging and made progress on your writing, and that’s worth celebrating!
- Give your manuscript some space
I think it’s important to take a break from your manuscript before you revise. It’s often easier to examine your work objectively once you’ve had some distance from it. Make notes about anything you know you want to revise so you don’t forget, but then take some time away from it. Your editing will likely be more much effective.
- Revise, revise, revise
No first draft is perfect. The only way to make your book as good as it can be is to revise it (often over and over again). There aren’t any shortcuts here; if you plan to publish your work, it needs to be edited extensively. This is true for writers at all levels, including professionals.
- Get some feedback
It can be difficult, if not impossible, to identify all of the flaws in your own work. Getting feedback from early readers, such as critique partners and beta readers, is crucial. If you don’t have critique partners, don’t worry; there are tons of resources online that can help you find one.
You may also want to consider hiring a freelance editor to work with you. I want to stress that this is not a requirement, as not everyone can afford professional editors. But I do think many writers can benefit from receiving this kind of professional feedback, especially writers who are still learning their craft. I’ve written all about when to consider hiring a freelance editor if that’s something you’re interested in. For information about my own freelance editing services, check out what I offer here. I’m currently offering a discount for 2016 NaNo participants!
- Revise again
Once you’ve gotten feedback, consider it very carefully. It’s natural to feel defensive of your work, but more often than not your early readers are probably right about the issues in it. Take some time to evaluate their suggestions and see how can you make them work for you.
What NOT to do:
- Query agents or submit to editors
As I said above, revising your work extensively is absolutely essential. No matter how good you think your first draft is or how eager you are to get it published, be patient. Make sure that your work is as good as it can possibly be before you submit it. This manuscript only gets one chance with each agent/editor, so don’t sabotage it. Take your time.
The same idea applies to authors who want to self-publish. It can be so tempting to get your work out there right away, but you’re doing a disservice to both your readers and yourself if you don’t revise your work to the best of your abilities first. Take your time.
What do you think? NaNo veterans, have any tips for the post-NaNo months? NaNo newbies, have any questions? Let me know in the comments!
Interested in professional editorial services for your manuscript? Check out my Services page for more information about what I offer. I have an annual discount for NaNoWriMo participants!