In exactly one month I will be engaging in NaNoWriMo Hell and I’ve never been more excited. This time last year I was ready to go for it. I’d entered NNWM many times before but never actually finished. I had no premise, no plot, and no plan. Great jumping off point, right? Actually…yes. Last year was the first year I've ever completed NNWM! Not only did I come out a champ but I had the beginnings of what I think is a truly stellar YA novel. What I've done with it since then is another story. And that’s where this post comes in. I am prepping you for the aftermath of NaNoWriMo. You’re confused, right? Because it hasn't happened yet? True. But I focused so much on the prep last year that I rationed all of my energy for November. In reality, NaNoWriMo is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to be pumped for what comes afterwards, aside from doing a mean futterwacken, which I did. Once November ends there’s much to be done and you shouldn't waste too much time.
#1: First & foremost…Finish. Last year I hit 50,000 words, went YEEHAWWW!!! and shelved my book for 3 really long months. I still haven’t finished. It’s not because I lost interest in my concept, oh no, I love it. It’s that I let myself get lazy and once the wheels stop turning it’s a whole lot harder to get them rolling again, which leads into my next point…
#2: Give yourself a timeline. You’re more or less going to have one for NaNoWriMo anyway. In fact, if you’re anything like me you've already calculated you’re daily word count (mine is 1,950 because I’m taking Wednesdays off). Once November ends you need to take two large steps back, have a little you time, and then be prepared to do work once you come back. Don’t take 3 months. I recommend one, at the most. And this is where your timeline happens. Mine looks something like this:
Start again by Jan 1st - - - - Finish novel by March 31st - - - - Revise like a crazy lady until April 30th - - - - Proof reading by family/friends until May 30th - - - - Beta month of June - - - - etc;
This is just an example. Yours can be much more accelerated or maybe a bit slower. Whatever works for you as long as you’re sticking to it. I post my progress on social media sites to keep myself accountable and I give myself rewards. Like chocolate…or shoes.
#3: Be prepared to scrap everything. It sounds ominous but it happened to me. I finished 50,000 words, came back 3 months later and went hmmmm… Luckily, it was a good hmmmm and it revolutionized my plot for the better. I didn't scrap all elements of my plot and characterization but I have essentially done a full re-write (as in every single word – no copy and pasting). It’s tough. It hurt. I cried. But I put on my big girl britches and made a unique, yet complex product. This isn't always the case though. Be prepared to say, “Well, it was real!” and toss the whole thing. Your goal with NaNoWriMo is to write quantity. If you get some quality out of there, kudos to you. Also, fneuf nfeunueifn nuineuif nunuew may help your word count, but it doesn't help your story… ;)
NaNoWriMo is a truly exciting time where you cheat on sleep for pizza and copious amounts of caffeine. You will be pushed to your limits, cry out for your mommy, and maybe even take up sucking your thumb again. No one will judge you. Just make sure all the embarrassing habits you adopt are worth it. Follow through and if it’s not enough to make your teddy bear proud, make yourself proud. You can do it!
Thoughts? Opinions? I’d love to hear them!