I did it!
Or maybe that should be you did it.
Congrats! You did the hard part of putting your butt in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard and kept them there consistently, day in day out, for a whole month. And now you have a full manuscript. That’s awesome! Good job.
Or maybe you find you are approaching a full manuscript, but haven’t finished and you’re thinking “Uh oh! I didn’t finish my project during Nanowrimo. Now what?”
This is the tough part. Because the problem with Nanowrimo is it can make you feel like a real winner, if you manage to put that 50,000 words into their site, but it can make you feel like a real loser if you hit only 30 or 40k. Or if you hit 50k and haven’t finished your story because it’s just not done or you hit some wall in the plot you can’t figure a way around. This is where most Nano-ers stop writing in despair.
But the cool part of being a writer is, if you are a writer and not just a dabbler, you take a breath, and get back into the fray and finish the darned thing. Because if you’re a writer, you’re going to write. There are no two ways about it.
So what do you do after Nanowrimo ends?
Here you are in December, weeks away from Christmas, and on top of everything else that’s gone on this year (as I write this in 2020) you’re thinking “Ugh. I didn’t finish my book. What a waste.”
Well, no. I’ll tell you something… (wiggles finger Lean in here a sec…)
I hit my goal of 50,000 words in November (actually, 51k) and you might be thinking, “That’s great, Juli. Now you can start editing it.”
Well, sure, if that 51,000 words actually got me to the end of the story. But as I write this little article…. I didn’t actually finish the book by the time the clock rolled over onto December 1st. No. I didn’t put a full period and those hallowed words THE END on my rough draft until…
(Drum roll please)
December 12, 2020.
Yes, you read that right. Almost two full weeks after the Nano deadline, I kept writing until I had added another 17,000 words. Yes, seventeen thousand.
And you know what? I bet if you ask around to some of the other Nanowrimo winners or especially the Nano veterans, I’m not the only one who needed to finish up the story in the so called “Now-what” months? It happens. As I believe I mentioned before, writing can be a one and done thing that you can accomplish in a month, but…
…if you have more story to tell after that arbitrary month deadline, that’s totally fine too. Keep going! If you plotted it out right (big if that doesn’t always apply to the pantsers among us*) you likely have a final scene in mind and likely have checked off the boxes on your outline and can see how much you have left to go.
*Pantsers, this applies to you too, because if you’re anything like this pantser, you had the end in mind somewhere along the way while you wrote this draft. Add a few more writing sprints into your daily schedule—say, if you have the time throughout the day, ten or twenty minute sprints here and there. Depending on how fast you type, you could get a good few pages out during the day in just a few spurts.
For my own self, I know, in my Preptober guide (Nailing Preptober) I mentioned my historical romance work in progress? That ended up not being my Nanowrimo project this year—because that can happen, too. You can have all these big plans of which story you want to tell, and another can grab you by the scruff of the neck and say “write me, instead!”
Which is what happened to make me switch to my forthcoming full novel in my Antique Magic series. It had been waiting in the wings since long before I ever conceived of Isabelle’s story I mentioned in Nailing Preptober, but the concept of crafting AM6 was exactly the same.
This scene had to happen, then this one, and this one. I just had to get off my tuffet and put them down on paper, as it were, and as I worked on it in the following week, I wrote the last per scene. But I have a freer schedule than I’m guessing some of you have. Twenty minutes here and there (as dinner cooks, after dinner maybe? Before bed, maybe?) will get you the amount of scenes you can fit in in those twenty minutes. I’ll be honest, I set a ten minute sprint for myself, once or twice during this past Nano, (just out of curiosity) and did some timed handwritten sprints, with my non-dominate hand (it’s an exercise, and I was just curious). I’m ashamed to admit I only managed 100 words! Eek! When I timed my typed scenes, ten minutes got me about 450 words.
See, 450 words? That’s a whole page, y’all. Think of it that way. 🙂
But I digress. For the end of December into all of January, I’ll set my tuffet down and take the same tact with Isabelle as I did with this forthcoming Antique Magic novel’s manuscript.
Or maybe, since I spent August to September doing the same thing with another book I wrote this year, I may be spending January editing. (Because editing is an important step but a whole nother ball of frenzy I can’t cover here in the depth it deserves)
But let’s say January, I’ll repeat the process I showed you in October in Nailing Preptober. And then no doubt, in February, I’ll do it again.
Because you see, writing isn’t a contest. Or, not a thing that you start and end at an arbitrary date and that’s it. If you have more stories to tell, you keep doing it. You take what you did in the previous manuscript, the getting your butt in the chair and letting your imagination run away with you until the story’s over, and you get to do it all over again—until you say, “That’s it, I’m done.”
You know what? That process started in earnest for me in 1986 and… to this day, I haven’t been able to say “That’s it. I’m done”.
Oh, I’ve said it in regards to certain projects, but never have I ever (yet) not slept on the idea of (gasp!) not writing again and woken up without an idea that I might work on instead of that one I gave up on. (Heck, case in point, five years after I’d written my novel Keeper of the Grove, the characters popped back up with another story idea that became my latest released novel Bitter Thorn Tribe, which I also worked on during a Camp Nanowrimo round).
So you see, the more you write, the more you want to write! And that’s the coolest thing about storytelling. So, keep writing!
You fail only if you stop writing—
Good luck to you as you continue on your journey.