For those of you who have held strong this November, you're almost there! Only two days left in November. Regardless of whether or not you've won, the fact that you have made writing a priority this month is a huge accomplishment.
Now that November and NaNoWriMo is almost over, here are seven things you can do afterward.
If you feel defeated or frustrated, that's okay. After November, take some time to mourn your month, your novel, and how far you fell short of your dreams.
Creating never goes as we want it to. There are always sentences that don't sound right, plot points that don't fit, characters who aren't real enough, and far too many moments when you just couldn't find the right words.
Before you start writing again, deal with those emotions. Mourn. Grieve. Then, let it go and move on.
2. Take a Retreat
You may not have had time for anything but writing this month. Take a weekend or a week to catch up on all those things you missed out on during November. Go for a run or a hike, watch some TV, go to bed early, hang out with friends and family, and do it all without feeling guilty that you should be writing (for a little while, anyway).
The real danger here is that you might binge on cheap pleasures that don't actually give you rest. Instead, focus on resting your body and mind. Get yourself into a healthy place so you can refocus on your creativity.
Speaking of things you missed out on during November, now that you're not writing feverishly, why not read a book? Reading may spark new ideas for your novel or it may just be a good way to stay connected with your literary side.
The danger here is that you might compare your NaNoWriMo novel to what you're reading and get discouraged. Don't be afraid to read, but don't feel the need to compare your work in progress to published literature.
4. Write a Short Story
If you feel you need to give your NaNo novel some space, but you're not ready to start writing a new novel, why not write a short story. A short story takes about twenty hours to write from beginning to end, which is a big relief from the hundreds or thousands of hours a novel takes. You can even repurpose a chapter from your novel and edit it into a short story.
5. Remember That It's Not You
Creativity gets very difficult if you think you're the one doing the creating. But more and more, I believe that our creativity doesn't come from us but through us. It exists outside of ourselves.
Your job is not to do the impossible work of making perfect sentences. That's the work of your muse. Instead, your job is to put yourself in a posture of active listening. (By the way, active listening still requires you to have your fingers on the keyboard for long periods of time.)
A month of writing for word counts can make you forget how to play.
Remember that writing is not about getting to a number, whether it's 50,000 or 150,000. Writing is about enjoying the words that flow through your fingers. Writing is about crafting sentences that will explode in the minds of readers. Writing is about joy and pleasure and meaning. Once NaNoWriMo is over, rediscover how to play.
7. Then, Write Some More!
You may deserve a break, but in case you've forgotten, 50,000 words is not a full length novel. If you think the fruit of your work this month has the potential for publication, you'll need to write at least twice as many words, and probably more to leave room for editing.
Feel free to rest, but remember, you still have more work to do.
I love this quote from Andy Warhol:
“Don't think about making art, just get it done (you may want to tweet that). Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
NaNoWriMo is over, but you haven't stopped being a writer. Now it's time to go make more art.
What are you looking forward to doing once NaNoWriMo is over? Share in the comments.
If you participated in NaNoWriMo, spend some time “grief journaling” today. Make a list of all the ways you, your novel, and your writing skills fell short during NaNoWriMo. Try to spend at least fifteen minutes mourning, but also realize that you may need much more time.
Feel free to post your list here in the comments or not. This is for you.
Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).
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