NaNoWriMo: Now What?

As I shared in my last post, I did it–I wrote 50K words in the month of November, effectively winning National Novel Writing Month. I’ve never drafted a full novel before, and it turns out that if you set a daily word count goal and work to hit or exceed that almost every day, you’ll also end up with some semblance of a novel.

So, that’s over and done with. Go me/everyone else who finished/everyone else who attempted to finish/everyone who’s trying to express themselves through writing.

Now what?

Well, the obvious for me is… read what I wrote. Which I have not done yet. I already know this draft isn’t going to be good, which I’m fine with (I journaled that while I know this first draft is a giant pile of garbage, it’s my own personal pile of garbage–something I made–so I feel fond of it). I’m not procrastinating because I’m scared of what I’ll find (like reading through comments on a piece of writing submitted to an audience for review; no joke, I waited three months to look at the written feedback on the first short story that I submitted to my critique group, totally out of fear for what I assumed would be harsh comments. Of course that wasn’t the case–even the not-so-positive comments were helpful in one way or another).

I think what’s holding me back is that I know there’s a shitton of work ahead in revising. Like, years, if we’re being honest. Rewriting is part of the process of writing, and it’s going to take way, way longer than a month of work to revise this thing, more than the number of hours I clocked to complete the initial draft. There are multiple storylines that need to be woven together, characters that need to be fleshed out, some drama added that currently doesn’t exist, plot points to emphasize, plus a million other things that I’m not even yet aware of that will need work. I also know that at some point in the future, if I want to publish this thing, I’m going to need to find myself an editor, and agent, and will have to jump through all the hoops involved in that–all things I feel are silly to consider at the moment when the book is still certainly of garbage-pile status, but are in the future… after I do the work involved in revising the novel.

So, there’s the difficult work of revising. And there’s also the fact that I want to work on other projects. I have a few in-progress short stories floating out there, some ideas for essays, some revised essays being rejected by silence that may need another look. The time I’ll have to commit to revising this garbage pile will take me away from other things, which I’ll be happy to do in the future, but not right now, when such work feels overwhelming.

First things first, as I mentioned, is that I’ll need to read the first draft. That’s all I can do right now, before anything else. And that’s my goal, to be completed by the end of the month: grab a drink (TBH, it’s probably going to be alcoholic), sit down at my desk, and read all at once. From there, I’ll come up with a list of what I need to do next and when I want to do those things, but  for now, I’ve just got to start with reading.

What about you all? What are your next steps now that NaNoWriMo is over?

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