Now that NaNoWriMo is over, you may be wondering what the next step is. Revision? Rewriting? Today, writer and participant Madeline Wright discusses the importance of recovering from your November marathon before revisiting your novel.
Whether or not you’ve crossed that 50,000-word mark in November, one thing is for certain. You are amazing for even attempting to crush NaNoWriMo. I hope that you took time to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished in the last month. Right now though, you may find yourself attempting to answer a question or two swirling in your head focused heavily on what’s next.
What happens when you’ve been writing for 30 days at a lightning-fast rate and then suddenly you’re not?
In answering this question, it’s normal to feel a vague anxiety around what you’re supposed to do over the next few weeks. You may wonder: Should I keep writing at this pace? Should I take a break? Should I pay any mind to this guilt creeping in now that I’ve definitely decided to do the latter?
With an easing of the gas pedal in any creative vehicle, it’s natural to experience a loss of momentum. You’ll have days where you don’t move forward at all which may induce a feeling of guilt. If you find yourself feeling this way, you’re not alone. And also, there’s absolutely nothing to feel guilty about!
Lots of support and guidance have been funneled through all communication channels to you during the challenge, but there isn’t a whole lot focused on ramping down after November (until now). Decompressing is an important part of this challenge too. If you don’t decompress then you may end up feeling a little lost, depressed, or left with an odd sensation of guilt.
First, dear writer, let’s acknowledge that it’s okay to take a break from your story. If you still feel the need to keep on writing at an accelerated rate until the last ‘i’ is dotted and final punctuation is in place, then consider taking some time to decompress. Doing this will help you with the post-challenge transition.
By decompressing you will ultimately find yourself further along faster than you otherwise would with these three R’s: relaxation, reflection, and regrouping.
Be okay with writing nothing at all for a little while. You may let the productive momentum from November carry over into other projects you may have. But allow yourself a chance for rest. You’ve earned this much.
Try writing something else by thinking about your overall experience. Write down some thoughts paying attention to what worked well and what challenges you’ve experienced. Note how you would do things differently if you could do NaNoWriMo all over again.
Focus on crafting a short-term plan to get you writing again and in the right direction for your next goal.
Check your region for a year-round write-in schedule (or propose one be made). Plan to meet up with fellow writers and keep each other motivated to work on your writing at a pace that works well for you.
As for me, over the next few weeks, I’ll be planning how to hit my writing goals for 2019 which includes finishing and revising my novel draft, as well as pursuing other writing projects. I will resolve to not feel guilty and rush through the three R’s because I know that telling my story will ultimately take as much time as I need it to take. I will also resolve that the time ‘I need it to take’ will be shorter than ‘taking my sweet time to make it happen’ which may fodder for a challenge for another day. NaNoEdMo, perhaps?
Now is the time to continue on in your creative journey. Go forth and write, or not. Here’s to a guilt-free December.
Madeline Wright is a freelance writer, product manager, and an avid reader who enjoys tackling creative challenges. With a BS from UCLA, a writing course from UCLA Extension, plus a few other writing classes under her belt she enjoys injecting humor and STEM concepts into her youth fiction oriented novels, whenever possible. She produces A Mad Vox, a podcast that explores the art of tackling ambitious challenges, like NaNoWriMo, and encourages you to try amazing things to make your inner kid proud. Connect with her on @amadvox on Twitter and Instagram, or become her Buddy on NaNoWriMo, where she goes by KwaS.