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NaNoWriMo – What Next?

4 December, 2014

November is well and truly over, which means this year’s NaNoWriMo is now at an end. If you were taking part, how did you do? Was your novel a runaway success – or a complete flop? This year, I managed to stay on target right until the very end, squeaking over the 50,000 word mark on the 29th and taking a well-deserved break the day after!

Now that NaNo’s over though, what next? If you ‘won’, of course, now is the time to give yourself a pat on the back and probably catch up on some sleep. If your novel is actually complete, putting it aside for a while before revisions is always worthwhile. If, like me, that 50k was only a part of your estimated total, there’s obviously a lot more work to be done. I’m dialling back my daily word count for December, aiming for 1000 words a day instead of NaNo’s 1667 – but I’ll also be catching up on my serial fan-fic, starting on the editing notes for another novel, and posting the first few chapters of another serial story (more on that soon!).

So, what if you didn’t win? What if 50,000 words still seems like a dim and distant dream? The simple answer is: it doesn’t matter. It can be easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement of NaNoWriMo, but at the end of the day it exists to serve a single purpose: getting you to write. I get frustrated when I see people sharing NaNo ‘tips’ online, which essentially amount to easy ways of reaching 50k and nothing else. Spending pages and pages describing your character’s dress, or hair, or the view from their window is all very well when it comes to churning out words, but what use are those words going to be when November is over?

NaNoWriMo, then, is just an added incentive to write in November, not the ‘be all and end all’ of the writing year. Even if you managed just 500 words last month, those are words you didn’t have before, and now is the time – as it will be for next month, and the one after that, and so on – to add a few more to the total, with or without the forums, badges and shiny little graphs to keep you going.

I don’t begrudge people whose only interest in writing is to take part in NaNoWriMo every year and never touch a keyboard for the other eleven months. However, if it’s the writing you’re passionate about, not the competition, open up that manuscript again or pick up that pen. December is here – and we’ve got writing to do.

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