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December and Beyond

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The “What Next” of NaNoWriMo

Merri Mayweather

December is finally here, and we have crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line. First, and foremost regardless of the final word count, congratulations!

This is where we take a self-inventory. How are we feeling? Do we want to celebrate because we’re happy? Or is there a strong urge to cry because exhaustion has taken over our brains, holding things in place with a vice grip?

Or all of the above?

Step Back

My first piece of advice is to give yourself a break. Life has been in an unusual pattern for weeks. And the jolly chimes of holiday season bells are ringing everywhere we go.

Next, make sure to grab that NaNoWriMo winner badge and post it on social media. Own the success, and give people the opportunity to say good job, ask questions, and recognize your accomplishment. 

It is also time to check out all the fabulous gifts and prizes on the NaNoWriMo site. Some of them will help with the upcoming months of revisions and edits. Tools to enhance productivity will be in the package. Off to the side of the prize box, we’ll find shinies that promise to feed the depleted author’s brain. Stories!  

Step Forward

After a day or two of rest we get to choose: 

Some people give it a day or so. Catch up on their sleep, and then dive in to refine their story. 

Others step away from the manuscript and enjoy the holidays. It is December, after all, and we just spent a month putting our families in a holding pattern. This would be a good time to reconnect. It also is a time for your mind to temporarily disconnect from the story. 

What happens in this situation is weeks or even months later the story world takes on a whole new look. Be prepared to step in and say “what was I thinking?”

Step In

In either scenario, it is time to reconcile what was in the author’s brain and what made it to the pages. This is when we do what we refer to in the school world ARMS. 

A – Add what is missing

R – Remove what shouldn’t be in the story (as adults we call this “killing the darlings”) 

M – Move things around so they either make sense or flow and 

S – Substitute. I search out all the filter words and overused words and substitute, or fill in the space, with description. 

Most importantly, remember, this isn’t the end. It’s a new beginning. You’ve developed a new habit, one of writing regularly and striving to hit your goals. 

And don’t forget about Camp NaNoWriMo! While the November event is the one that receives the most recognition, NaNoWriMo happens three times a year. In early spring and midsummer, people gather again to work on their books from November or give it another try, with more options for tracking and flexible goals. 

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