You did it! Ooooooor…maybe you didn’t. Either way, National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) is over and it’s time to regroup. Maybe this time you were a NaNo “winner” and managed to plunk out 50k words in a month or hit your NaNo writing goals. Maybe life threw you some unexpected curve-balls and you didn’t write one word. No judgement: I’m in the latter category myself.
So, now that NaNo’s over, there’s plenty of things to consider. In some ways, it may be most important to think about what you shouldn’t do after NaNo. Let’s dig in:
1. Don’t Publish It
If you did hit your writing goals or wrote a book, congrats! That’s a wonderful accomplishment and you should be proud. But the very top of the list thing you shouldn’t do is scoot over to any of the indie platforms and hit “publish.”
Oh my gosh, yes. You need editing. Even editors hire editors. Need some help on how to approach edits? Check out this article: Editing — You Need a Plan. Okay, let’s say somehow you wrote a perfect book that “doesn’t need editing” (though I personally don’t believe those exist), what’s the harm in taking some time to read through? Stick it in a drawer, get some distance, even if it’s only for a week. You’ve just gone through an intensive writing experience. Some well-earned time off can be crucial to coming back to your manuscript with fresh eyes. Not only will it help you catch typos, but more importantly, it will help you see errors in plot and characterization.
2. Don’t Submit It
This is really part two of the first point but, please, please do yourself a favor and wait to submit your project. How do I know tons of writers submit their freshly written NaNo projects as soon as November ends? Agents and editors have told me so.
And it isn’t pretty.
Wait, please wait. Because editing. Also—because do you really want to be part of the deluge submitting projects during a time of year that publishing typically slows down?
3. Don’t Quit Writing
On the other side of the equation—maybe you didn’t get a single word written during NaNo. Does that mean you should quit writing?
Maybe you aren’t suited to writing a whole book in under a month deadline during one of the craziest times of year. Maybe life handed you a whole lot of unexpected awfulness. Maybe you just ended up being completely and totally uninspired.
Guess what—it happens to all writers. NaNo isn’t the best yardstick to judge whether or not you have what it takes to be a writer. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if you didn’t get the words down that you were hoping for. As long as you pick up that pen eventually, that dream can still come to life.
4. Don’t Let Go of NaNo Connections
One of the best things about NaNo is the community of writers that you can find through it. Though it can be hard to maintain those connections, it’s actually really important to. The community of writers will be invaluable to your writing journey. Whether you find other writers you can talk shop with, beta readers, a cheer squad—whatever—writing buddies are so important.
Later on, when you’re looking for blurbs for your polished, edited manuscript, or publishing, or critiquing a new project, or venting about writing woes, or doing newsletter swaps—your writing buddies will be there.