If you recently finished NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and are wondering what’s next, this blog post is for you! Even if you didn’t reach the 50,000-word count goal, these are all applicable to you, too. No matter what time of year you read this, these tips will help you recharge after finishing a first draft.
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Take a day or two off from writing. You could catch up on housework or go back to neglected hobbies, but there’s no shame in only wanting to rest when you can or watching your favorite shows. Even if you have developed a habit of writing large word counts year-round, give yourself a break and come back to your writing refreshed.
I took the last weekend of November off from writing since I finished the goal early this year thanks to sprinting. I played a lot of Animal Crossing and watched Christmas movies with my family. At first, I felt weird about not being at my desk all weekend, but when Monday arrived, I was ready to delve into a side project.
If your reading time was neglected during November (and October, too, if you did Preptober), now would be a good time to get back into it or try something new. If funds are limited, you could check out books from your library. Many libraries offer Overdrive or Hoopla online, making it so you can check out eBooks from home.
For me, I’m diving into books I already own to either revisit favorites and also finish books I started reading before November. I’m also revisiting two of my favorite writing craft books. I’m not looking to finish reading all these books in a month, especially after the challenge last month, but here’s my to-be-read (and reread) list:
There are still books I want to check out from the library, especially Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, but I haven’t made a full list yet. I’m also considering another reread of Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, because they’re both fantastic novels. The world is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and her writing balances humor, action, and heart-wrenching scenes beautifully.
Study Writing Craft
Instead of editing right away after finishing a draft, I like to either start a small side project or study writing craft. This year, I’m working on a short story and reviewing craft books. I’m also delving back into MasterClass, to take some writing classes I haven’t yet, starting with Walter Mosley’s new class on Fiction and Storytelling. What I love most about MasterClass is that I can watch the videos while I go about my day, then during my writing time, I work on the exercises. If I’m feeling uninspired, Neil Gaiman’s videos are great for a pep talk. (Through 12/28/20, MasterClass is offering a buy one, get one free membership promotion. You can find more information here.)
Here are some of my favorite writing craft books, in no particular order:
- Intuitive Editing by Tiffany Yates Martin
- Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White
Plan for Next Year
Think about what did and didn’t work for you during NaNoWriMo this year to plan for how you want to take part next year. Use the habits you developed during November to create a writing routine that works for your situation. Maybe you want to join Camp NaNoWriMo in April or July to prepare or start a different project. If you want to continue your NaNoWriMo project, make a checklist for editing after rereading your work.
During NaNoWriMo, I wrote four short stories for my Strange Happenings serial and a completely unrelated novella when I was feeling creatively blocked in the middle of NaNoWriMo. (There’s a reason I don’t write 50,000 words every month. I need to have at least one or two days off from projects so I don’t burn out.) In the next few weeks, I’ll be making an editorial calendar to come up with a strategy to finish everything on a timeline. Judging from my 64,600-word count from November, I’ll be having edits and rewrites for at least the next six months, starting in January. I really enjoyed having NaNoWriMo to be a springboard for my writing projects for next year.
No matter how many words you wrote in November, you can find a sustainable writing habit that works with your schedule. It’s amazing what you can get done, even if it’s only ten minutes writing or 500 words a day. All those words add up, and you’ll finish your stories.