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NaNoWriMo’s Over … Now What?

After an intense writing challenge, you might feel a little lost. Here are some tips from Managing Editor and fellow Wrimo Moriah Richard for capitalizing on your momentum.

NaNoWriMo 2021 is officially over. How did you fare?

For me, I started out the month super strong. In the first nine days, I wrote 16,842 words. I felt unstoppable! Then we had an unexpected death in the family, and I lost all momentum. I didn’t pick up my project again after day nine.

(NaNoWriMo: Making the Most of Community)

Looking back at the years I did cross that finish line, though, I know there’s a lot of emotion as the month comes to a close. If you met your goal, you can feel elation, excitement, and maybe you're even buying yourself a little something to celebrate! If you fell short of your goal, you can feel frustrated, discouraged, and maybe a little disappointed.

No matter what word count you ended with, the question is always What next?

NaNoWriMo’s Over … Now What?

Finish Your Novel

Keep going! If you didn’t meet your goal, that’s OK; there’s no NaNo penalty that means you have to scrap your project. You are still the amazing, bad-ass writer who started the month of November with a goal and a heap of passion.

Did something keep you from completing this challenge? This year, it was travel and grief for me. As time moves on, I feel more ready to get back to the page. A few years ago, it was my work schedule that got me up really early in the morning, working 12 hours in a physically demanding role, and then pure exhaustion once I got home. Whether it was family, travel, work, or something else, pinpoint what tripped you up and come up with a game plan for how to keep rolling forward. Is it setting a smaller word goal? Planning a few hours a week on your schedule where writing is your only focus? Experiment with different options and find the one that works best for you.

If you completed the challenge but your story isn’t complete, then keep going! Even if you don’t stick to the 1,667 word/day goal, having a daily word goal might help you keep up your momentum. Look back at last month and see what helped you succeed. Keeping your eye on those strategies, continue implementing them to get all the way to The End!

Here are some articles on the site that might help you:

Take a Break

When you finish your novel, it’s time for you to take a little break! That could mean something different for everyone—I have some mutuals on Twitter who write fanfiction for some breathing room after they finish a large personal project. I like to take a break from writing by replacing writing time with reading time and knocking some books off my TBR list. Whatever a break looks like for you, go ahead and take it!

But writers, beware. A break without a deadline can put you in a writing dry spell. The longer you’re completely away from the page (and your project), the less motivated you will find yourself to go back to it. My advice is to give yourself a deadline, and then when that day comes, get back to work!

Get Feedback

While you’re taking your break, it can be a great idea for you to hand your project over to someone else. Having feedback as you go into your revisions can give you a better sense of direction and a clear finish line.

I’ve spoken before about NaNoWriMo’s amazing writing community. However, if you don’t have any writer friends you feel comfortable giving your manuscript to, there are other options! When it comes to selecting a beta reader or professional editor, here are some articles here on the site that can help guide you:

Start Editing

Even if you don’t want to employ a reader to give you feedback, you’ll still need to revise your finished draft! Don’t let yourself off the hook for revisions, because it can take a great project and make it fantastic. You’ll want to pinpoint what’s working best in your story and reinforce those; when you spot your problem areas, you’ll want to address those head-on.

To help you, here’s some great advice from our site:

Celebrate!

No matter what, jumping into a writing challenge is a great show of passion. Celebrate that! You’re working to better your craft and share your stories with the world.

And just because November is over doesn't mean you can't harness the NaNo spirit moving forward to continue finding the strategies that get words on the page.

To help, consider this free download! Featuring a combination of NaNoWriMo-specific writing advice and motivation, Grant Faulkner, the staff of NaNoWriMo, and the editors of Writer’s Digest have also curated this exclusive set of articles and 30 writing prompts to help first-timers and seasoned Wrimos alike as you embark on your novel-in-a-month journey and beyond.

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Click here for your free download!

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