It is official. National Novel Writing Month is now over. You did it, writers. Take a bow.
So what comes next? I like to call it “National Now What? Month.” As the frenzied writing of November slows down or ceases, writers are left with several more hours of free time, the impending obligations of the holiday season, and painfully empty fingers. The community-enforced mission of NaNoWriMo is over. There are no more status bars to track your progress, no more hyperactive Twitter hashtags, and no more overflowing NaNo forums. Now what?
I can’t tell you. Only you can decide on the next step in your writing journey. However, if you are having trouble making up your mind, allow me to offer a few suggestions. Scroll through this options guide to find the statements that best fit your NaNoWriMo experience and see if my ideas strike a cord with you.
I did not win NaNoWriMo, but I loved the experience! If this is you, keep writing! As long as you enjoyed NaNoWriMo, there is no reason why you should not continue working on your manuscript and attempting to finish. Now, you can do it at your own pace, on your own terms. Or, if you feel like you need a break from your story, but not from writing, start working on your next idea. Either way — get to it!
I did not win NaNoWriMo, and I did not have fun. If you did not win NaNoWriMo and you were unhappy throughout the entire challenge, maybe writing is not for you. I would never steer someone away from writing simply because she finds it difficult or tedious, but if you flat-out did not enjoy regular writing, you might think about channeling your creative energy into a different medium. Try a different kind of writing, painting, playing music, dancing, etc.
I won NaNoWriMo, but my manuscript is not finished. Need I say it? Figure out your post-NaNo writing pace and finish that novel! However, if you are feeling overwhelmed by your story, you could always take a break and write a bit on your next idea. Luckily for all of us, there are no rules!
I won NaNoWriMo, and my manuscript is done! If your manuscript is finished, you have several options. A) Resume regular life. B) Resume regular life and prepare for NaNoWriMo 2015. C) Try out a different artistic medium. D) Write another novel. E) Edit and revise your novel. F) Seek publication. More on these last two below.
I won NaNoWriMo, my manuscript is complete, and I want to seek publication. Fantastic! If you want to make writing a career, this is the best place to be in after NaNoWriMo. However, if you don’t want to publish, that is fine, too! It’s your life. My best advice for this stage is to WAIT a while before seeking out publication options and consider these three steps.
Find beta readers and/or non-professional critique partners. Now that your novel is done, you need to create emotional distance and learn to look at it objectively. Beta readers, who are individuals in your target audience who read the book before it is published, can offer you feedback on the structure of your novel and how it will be received. Critique partners are a bit more formal, in that they will likely offer more in-depth analysis and criticism of your book. More on beta readers in a later post.
Edit yourself and hire a professional. It should go without saying that you personally need to edit/revise your novel at least once before you pursue publication. I would also suggest hiring a professional editor to go over your manuscript as well. This is especially important for those seeking independent publishing. There are three key types of editors that you will want to investigate if you do decide to publish: developmental editors, copy/line editors, and proofreaders. More on self-editing and hiring editors in later posts.
Decide which type of publishing you want to pursue. We are lucky enough to be writing in a time where there are several publishing options. You can go the traditional route, where you query an agent to help you sell your book to a publishing house. This can either be one of the “big five” publishers or a small or micro-press. You can go the independent route, where you set up your own author-enterpreneur business and publish your own books as if you were a publishing house. Or, you can vanity publish, where you simply put your books out to the world with little to no professional assistance. Click on the name of the publishing model to read more about it: traditional, vanity, independent.
As for me, I know my post-NaNoWriMo plan and why it is right for me. It will mark a huge shift in my life and at least a few ripples on this site and the rest of my online presence. I am very excited to take the next steps in my journey, and I am just as excited to share them with you all!
If you are interested in making a writing career of your own, or have just enjoyed my blog so far, I encouraged you to stick with me as I enter the next phase of my life. I promise it will be fun, informative, and keep alive that uplifting writing community that we had during NaNoWriMo!
What are your post-NaNoWriMo plans? Will you continue writing or are you going to take a break for a while? Let me know below!