Start another book. Brainstorm or sketch out another book outline or write a short story or just sit down and see where else you can go at the keyboard. Keep that feather pen scratching. Keep going.
People will tell you to celebrate. Writers (because we aren’t “people”) will ask, “What else ya got?”
You could take a break, sure. But now that you’ve done NaNoWriMo, don’t you feel you’ve got a good habit going? Habits are hard to break into. To get into the daily writing habit takes practice, just like you’ve been doing all this month. Why stop now? To publish, you must write a lot, rewrite, revise and edit. Good habits are too easy to drop for you to waste all that behavioural inertia you have steaming in your skull engine.
Now isn’t the time to put your feet up.
If you still have some scenes from your NaNoWriMo project that you didn’t fill in right away, you can do those now. Now is the perfect time. The context is still fresh in your mind. Tackle any empty spaces you’ve left behind so when you come back to it, you won’t become perplexed and stymied later. Otherwise, leave your NaNoWriMo manuscript alone.
Why am I telling you to start a new project as quickly as you can?
Because someone might be tempted to dive right back in so they have a novel by Christmas. You know you need some time to cogitate while the manuscript rests for a bit. Otherwise, the Nano haters will run in circles with their hands over their ears screaming, “I told you so!” None of us wants those killjoys to be right.
Besides, if you go back too soon, you might be discouraged at how much work the book needs. Or worse, some might think their rush job is still brilliant. That’s lethal to ever having anyone tell you they’re a fan of your work.
And now for the tough stuff. I’m asking that you hold two contradictory ideas in your mind at one time and act accordingly.
1. Congratulations! You beat NaNo! Good on you! I bet there were days when the words came quickly and days where it felt like your brain was full of molasses. However, you faced down time management problems and got it done anyway. Sometimes it wasn’t easy, yet, you got past 50,000 words! You did it! This is a huge accomplishment!
2. Writing a little less than a couple of thousand words a day is no big deal.
Yes, some writers are more precious about their word count and make a great show of how slow they can produce. Mostly? I suspect they’re counting procrastination time as writing time. Screw that. I come from a journalistic background where deadlines are not livelines. We slam it in and knock it out and we’re good.
At least take that attitude with the first draft so you’ll have something to gut and edit. Blank screens have no atoms and pixels bouncing off each other to create new neural pathways and fresh angles to feed reader rapture. The first draft is usually simple, straight narrative. I always find the jokes, dialogue and theme in the second pass.
Professional writers write to deadlines all the time and they do so consistently.
You know that now, so it’s not about what “they”, the writers, do anymore. It’s what you do because you’re a writer. Keep going.
We’re creative. Writing’s what we do to wield god powers and get back at our brothers and sisters. We do it because it’s much cooler at the Christmas party to answer “What do you do?” with, “I write.” Say that and you’ve got a conversation. (Try explaining your wage ape existence in middle management to a hapless stranger and they’ll run for the punch bowl.)
We do it for play, for love and money and hope and for readers. It’s fantastic to find a scene to write that, even as you’re knocking it out, you say, “This! This will melt their faces and make them want to read me for the rest of their lives and tell all their friends! Ta-freakin’-da!“
Mostly, writing is what we do because it is who we are.*
*If you didn’t carry out NanoWriMo’s challenge this November, what better testament to your mettle than to do it on your own? Now. You’ll feel more smug and self-righteous this time around. There are twelve months in a year. You don’t have to risk waiting another year for the next party bus to take you to your life’s to-do list.
See you in the trenches in the morning
with 3,000 more words. If it’s a bad day.
Yes, you may stop writing
when you’re out of blood.
~ Robert Chazz Chute wrote a bunch of beastly books, including This Plague of Days. Season One’s in paperback. If you’re a writer looking for more inspiration, Robert also recommends Crack the Indie Author Code. But he would say that since he is me and we’re all about inspiring writers not to be weak. We’re all about the conquering and hefting the bale and writerly whatnot. And writing about ourselves in the third person apparently.
What? Still waffling? Still? After all that? Holy Jebus! Read this review of Crack the Indie Author Code then, for the love of Thor and for the love of the sweet consumer that is you and your writing career! And your family’s writing career. Don’t forget to get Mom one for Christmas, too.
- So Tell Us: How Was Your NaNoWriMo? (tipsylit.com)
- Get Cracking On That Novel – NaNoWriMo Is Almost Over! (npr.org)
- NaNoWriMo-ers – Don’t stop writing! (prolixme.wordpress.com)
- Final NaNoWriMo Update! (clairevioletthropeexpress.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo (dreamingcreatively.wordpress.com)
- @NaNoWriMo Day 29 (mikecoville.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo Tip #18: Drink Some Coffee (mediabistro.com)
- NaNoWriMo: Lessons Learned (creativewritingforme.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo Rebellion (lifewithrecovery.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo Day 30: The Last Day (wordwabbit.wordpress.com)