Get ready for some obvious statements: It’s December. The end of a year. Just about to begin a new year. NaNoWriMo is over. Ideally, the first draft of your NaNoWriMo project is done.
Now for some obvious fears: Now what?
Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones, the writers who not only won NaNo by hitting 50k words, but actually finished an entire book in a month (which is different from winning NaNo. Hell, I won NaNo and my MS is nowhere close to finished). That might mean you have a 50k-word draft or a 120k-word one. Which is amazing and difficult and amazingly difficult. So for you few–you happy few, you band of brothers (couldn’t resist)–celebrate. That is a massive undertaking and you should treat your self.
And for the even smaller percentage that not only finished their first draft during NaNo but also still love is and are excited about diving into edits, CONGRATS! That might be even harder–to drive yourself at a breakneck pace, obsess about one thing, and still love it when it’s all over, despite all the flaws. Take the rest of the month off. You deserve a vacation, a break away from your manuscript before attempting to edit.
And now for the rest of us. We’re a big umbrella group including: people who didn’t finish their draft. People who gave up. People who fell in hate with their manuscript. People who realized halfway through they needed to trash everything and start again from scratch. People who got distracted by other obligations, by family, by the holidays, by finals. People who fell behind and couldn’t catch up. People whose ideas dried up.
All of us–the ones who struggled and the ones who finished and are looking forward to editing–face the same huge/daunting/frightening question:
All of us are facing that question right now, regardless of whether or not we finished NaNoWriMo. For the ones who finished, who love their project and can’t wait to start editing, their answer is fairly easy: continue. Maybe not right away, I find it’s better to take a break, to take a breather and step back between drafts but hey, you do you. Whatever you think is best. Already have ideas for edits? Jump on it, dude. Feel like it’s flowing, and don’t want to give up the writing rhythm you found? Keep on keeping on. Do what you think is best for your project. Nobody is a better judge than you of what’s right for your work.
But for the rest of us, the ones who didn’t finish, “what next?” opens a whole Pandora’s box of other questions. Questions like: Do I still love this? Is this a story I need to write? Am I telling it the right way? Are my characters carrying the story forward, or am I forcing it? Am I willing to invest the time to fix the problems I’m already finding?
A lot of writers find the answer is “no” to those questions. Or “Maybe, but not right now.” I’m one of them, a writer that was at one point in love with her project, but isn’t anymore. Or, at least, isn’t right now, but might fall back in love with some time and distance between us.
(Manuscripts: they’re just like relationships)
So it’s back to that big questions: “What next?”
Maybe the answer is you need a break, a brain vacation. That’s good. Everyone needs to rest and recharge every so often. You worked hard, take your well-deserved break.
Or maybe you’re a crazy person like me and always need to be working on something. And if you’re like me, you have a ton of ideas, battling it out for dominance in the Thunder Dome of your mind. Because THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE! *Dramatic Lightning Stike*
Or, if you are me, you let there be multiple winners–like the 74th Annual Hunger Games–and just learn to juggle.
Yes, as you can see from the sidebar, I am juggling multiple projects like some kind of psycho clown in the AHS Freak Show circus. Which, so far, is good? Good. *clears throat* Yeah, gonna go with “good.”
It is, in some ways, the most passive aggressive way of deciding my next project: working on a bunch of really different ones at the same time, and seeing which rises to the top. Hell, I didn’t even list all of them in the sidebar, because some I’m still just outlining and idea-farming, and haven’t actually started writing yet.
And because I worried all those new progress bars would just look like a nougat-y cluster of crazy.
So stay tuned, blog-readers and fellow writers! This is about to get…interesting.
Yup, I’m gonna go with “interesting.”