NaNo is pretty much over. How is your word count doing?
Some people didn’t make their 50k. Writing isn’t a super easy thing to do, and if you haven’t finished your book yet, now is definitely not the time to take a break or get discouraged. Whether you made to 50k “winners” circle or not is irrelevant, and now more than the rest of the month, it’s important to realized that.
Look at the word count that you are at (and post it in a comment if you like). All of those words came out of you, in one month. If you keep pushing toward the end, sooner or later you will get to “the end,” and you will have finished drafting a novel. So if you aren’t there yet, then don’t give up. A little every day. The more you do that, the more productive you will become, and the better your words will get.
Most novels are not 50,000 words. These days, most are longer, some are shorter. Here’s some pointers about what to do after NaNo November is over with, sorted by word count category:
Finished my book, but it isn’t 50,000 words
First of all. Congratulations. You finished a damn book! That’s awesome. Maybe your story wasn’t meant to be a full-length 80k trade paperback. Maybe your writing was a little telly, and the story will grow when you go back to edit. Either way, a completed story is a completed story. My best advice: Take a little break and write another story.
That’s right. Back up your novel files and start on something new to keep you in the writing rhythm. If your story has a lot of “this and that” in it, then perhaps some poetry. Put some pacing to your words and see how it turns out. Flash fiction is good too, as condensing a lot of description into a short bit of prose can help you perfect your words.
I also suggest writing some nice long descriptions of common things around you. Just as painters learn to create “still life” images to learn technique, you can do the same thing with words. Describe your laptop to a caveman or just paint a colorful paragraph about a soda can. Describe the colors, the smell, the feel, the sound, and the taste about any common thing (food works really good for this). Don’t be afraid to spit out some run-on sentences, just get playful with some words.
Still not to 50,000
That’s perfectly cool. Look at what you’ve done so far, and just extend your deadline and your finish line. Take a wild guess about how much story you have to write, and come up with a number. 60k? 75k? Whatever you think. Then just keep NaNo-ing. There’s no reason to stop just because November is over. Keep on cruising until you get to the end. Write something everyday, and set a new daily goal to keep track of. If you ended November with 30,000 words, then that averages out to 1,000 per day, so make that your new word count target. Draw the line at 60k, and try to finish by the end of December.
Some people don’t type as fast as other’s too, so keep that in mind. If your typing speed is 20 words per minute, that would be 1200 words per hour of solid typing. If you are setting aside an hour daily to type, and you’re getting 400-500, then you’re doing amazing. Just keep plugging away. Your typing speed will increase with more practice, especially if you practice “touch typing” while writing. Keep your daily writing time, keep going, don’t stop. You WILL get there if you keep the habit. I promise. Just keep going.
Over 50k but the story isn’t done
I think by this point of the blog post, you know what to do. Consider cutting yourself some slack on the daily word count goal, and focus on DAILY writing. 50k in a month is a huge accomplishment, and many NaNo-ers didn’t get there. You did. So march on, and finish that damn book.
In previous years that I’ve done NaNo, I’ve seen people “take a break” at the start of December. The next time I saw these same people, they told me they were going to “pick up and finish” last year’s NaNo book. At least three people have admitted this to me this year. They set their novel to the side to take a break, and a year later, they were still stuck at 50,xxx words. Do NOT focus on that 50k number. Your story isn’t resigned to a word count trophy. It’s done when you decide it’s done. Don’t fall into this trap.
You wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. If you went another 15, that would get you to 75,000 words. Most novels will sort themselves out around that mark, though some will go over. My friend Austin closed his debut novel draft at 100,000+, which is a lot for a break-out book, and it’s still a first draft, but the fact is, he needed all those words to finish his story, so that’s what he did. Just keep writing daily until the story is done. Then take a break and celebrate. It’s okay to let the story wear off a bit before you start editing.
Personally, I like to ignore first drafts of anything for at least two weeks before I go back to start fixing them. Preferably a month.
Done with the whole story
Celebrate 🙂 This one’s easy. But don’t let yourself stop writing. You have what it takes to punch out a story, and I’m sure there are more bottled up inside of you. Give them a shot at the paper as well. Keep writing stories, and don’t forget to go back and edit.
So, I guess the main bullet point is this, no matter where you are, keep writing 🙂 Easy, right? And feel free to brag about your NaNo book in the comments 🙂