NaNo is over. What now?

That collective sigh of relief and groan of frustration you heard yesterday came from the hoards of authors who met — or didn’t — their NaNoWriMo goals. Now they are looking at those 50,000 words and wondering what to do with them. Should they put them aside for a bit and then come back to see if they are anywhere close to a book or if they more resemble a cabbage. Others are wondering why they couldn’t meet the deadline and wondering how they can ever be an author if they can’t successfully complete NaNo. Then there are those who know they finished their 50,000 words, that they have a book (of sorts) as a result but aren’t sure it is worth the work they will have to put in to bring it to publishable standards.

All of those reactions — and more — are why I don’t particularly like NaNo. I’ve done it. I’ve failed more often than I’ve successfully concluded it. I’ve seen the faces of those in my writer’s group go pale, their features slack, when I ask if they are going to take part. I can’t blame them. For most folks, writing 50,000 words in 30 days sounds next to impossible. For a lot, it is. Real life always seems to find ways to keep them from the keyboard and adding the pressure of an artificial goal only compounds the pressure to write to the point that the muse not only goes quiet but she goes somewhere far, far away.

Still, I recommend NaNo to almost everyone, especially those who have had a dry stretch. However — don’t laugh. You knew there had to be a but to all this — I tell folks not to let the 50,000 word goal put them off. If they don’t think they can do that much, then they should set a more reasonable sounding goal. Then, during the course of NaNo, they need to do their best to stick to their goal (and be ready to tell the crit group how they did and what they think helped them meet their goal or what caused them to miss it). What I have learned over the last few years is that NaNo can and does serve as a good kick in the writerly butt for some of them and it also lets them see what sort of distractions they have started allowing into their writing time, many of which they can learn how to ignore or at least postpone until they get their writing in for the day/week/month.

I’ll admit, as I already have, that I usually don’t meet my NaNo goals. That’s because I know I can do 50k in a month and don’t adjust the word count. That is when Real Life tends to kick me in the teeth. Whether it is illness, either of me or a family member, or death or something around the house deciding to go MIA, something always seems to happen. It did this year. The difference was that I still managed to not only meet my 50k goal but I exceeded it.

So what was different?

A couple of things. First, I didn’t start with a brand new project. I had one project I was close to finishing and another I had been messing around with for a year or so that I wanted to finally put to bed. The first project, Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) , had been one of those books that fought me every step of the way. Using NaNo, I finally got it finished and it is currently available for pre-order. Publication date is December 15th for the e-book and shortly after that for the print version.  I honestly feel that if I hadn’t had the double deadlines of NaNo and of the pre-order drop dead date of December 5th to get the final version uploaded to Amazon, I might still be fighting the book. Not because I didn’t know what to write but because I started the book thinking it would be the end of the current story arc for the series, only to find there is one more book left. I don’t like change and this was a big change for my writer’s brain to take in. Any way, I did 20k words on Challenge and it will go live in a little more than two weeks.

The second book, Slay Bells Ring, is a departure. Before I get into the heart of Honor from Ashes, the next book in the Honor and Duty (2 Book Series), I needed to do something that wasn’t as intense as Challenge had been or Honor will be. So, I went back to Slay Bells Ring, a romantic suspense novel. It will be finished in another day or two, coming in at approximately 90,000 words or so. Of those, I have written 60,000 this past month. Even for me, that (added with the 20k from Challenge) is a lot to do in a month. But this past month has been one of those where the stress had to be countered with something else and that meant writing. The only downside has been that my blogging has gone by the wayside. I’ve discovered that when I go on a writing jag like I have been on this month, I don’t blog. Not even about my writing. There is something about having to switch to the blogging mindset more than once a week (MGC) takes me out of the creative mind. So . . . . the result is that I will be releasing the e-book of Slay Bells Ring Christmas week. Two books in one month is a record for me and not particularly one I want to repeat any time soon.

So, what’s the purpose of this post other than to blow my own NaNo horn? Part of it is to encourage those who didn’t manage to make the 50k goal of the “official” NaNo rules not to give up. Adapt and adjust the word count next year to what you think you can do and then add a little to it. It is also to say not to get discouraged if you didn’t meet it this year. Real life happens and, as those of us who post here can tell you, it happens more often than any of us would like. NaNo is a great kick in the pants, if you let it and if you don’t take it too seriously. Just remember that there will be times when you meet the goal and times when you don’t, times when you blow past the goal and times when you don’t come close. It doesn’t really matter as long as you keep writing.

So, to answer my question at the top of the post. What comes next? Write some more.



  1. A week of rest (or in my case polishing a story, doing covers, then going back to a story I just finished after it has cooled and doing some revisions). Then going over the NaNo manuscript (if you have one) or looking at other work to see what is needed. Or doing background reading for two novels you had not intended to write in a series you thought you’d wrapped up. (Mutter mutter sadistic Muse mutter mutter)

  2. Well, I did not officially participate, but I keep records anyway.

    November 30th, the 30 day total was 27,644. OK, that was better than the 30 day total on October 31st, which was 13,022. Worse than the September 30th for the 30 days, which was 40,151.

    I keep a continuous moving 30 day total (and average). That is far more telling to me, when I look at the record. So – what is significant is that I had eight days of no production in November.Twenty-one days of no production in October. Seven no production days in September.

    It is mostly those “real life” days, with no production, that kill me.

    Eliminate no production days, and I’d just about make 50K without the pressure of a “goal” to push me. Looking at my peak 30 days (September 21st) of 45,806 words – I have only two days blank for word count in that period.

    So my goal (for December) is “no empty days.” Now, that is not going to be easy, obviously – at least one of my empty days in November had 9+ hours of cooking and the associated cleaning.

    So, let “DeNoEmpDa” begin… (So, Muse, awake yet?)

  3. Yep. This year I did the Real Life Crisis right off the bat. No writing for a week and a half. Then I buried myself in NaNo to avoid the emotional adjustment and stop thinking about it. Barely pulled off the word count, but, holy moley. I described it as something the dog horked up, and I’m not kidding. I’ll let it sit six months and rip it apart and reassemble. I figure three short stories, maybe, if they’re not to depressing and pointless..

  4. I didn’t NaNoWriMo exactly, but I did write 10,560 words on various projects, which is a record for one month of writing for me.

  5. This year NaNo took the WIP from 70K to over 120K. I really needed that push to break the back of the thing, particularly since it’s still not done. If NaNo works for you, it really works. I’ve been doing it for a decade, and I always get something out of it, even though it does make me feel grumpy and pressured at times.

  6. I used Nanowrimo as the “If I’m going to try writing a complete story, then I need to write every day. So this will force the habit of writing every day.” It did, too.

    Right now, I’m completely ignoring the story written in favor of wrestling with a sequel. In retrospect, noodling around with ideas until they gel and layer into a rough plot took a month and a half for the first story, over and above the actual writing time. So trying to keep writing every day while still figuring out the plot and world has resulted in about 12K of blundering around, exploring the world, but very little salvageable as story.

    I’m of two minds on the writing every day: on the one hand, it’s a lot of wasted words, effort, and time. On the other, it’s a very good work and production habit. (Like keeping to the LCHF diet and an effort to keep a house clean, this probably works much better if I put in time every day, instead of making occasional runs at the goal.)

    1. Yeah. What I need to do is some editing this morning, and then some new writing in the afternoon. And then do it again tomorrow, and then the next day.

      1. I was afraid I’d collapse after NaNo and have nothing left to say. I am pleased to report I went to lunch and wrote.

    2. I’ve discovered it gets better over time. I’ve got enough of a back log of nano projects I can let them stew and still have something to write on every single day. I just queue them up and off I go. Ones that need stewing I fiddle with while concentrating on a ‘main’ project. The bigger the ‘queue’ (at least for me) the better off I seem to be because even if I’m banging my head against a wall I can make forward progress on SOMETHING.

  7. To mis-quote Mel Brooks (Gov. William J. Le Petomane) from Blazing Saddles:

    Write, write, write, write, write!

  8. November is a bad month to put off the real world up here in Maine, but I managed about 4,000 words. It got me over the hump of “just write it.” I’m very pleased with my progress. Once I’m settled in for the winter I’ll have a lot more time for it.

  9. As Mobiuswolf said, November is one of the worst times of the year for something like Nano. March, being the most worthless month of the year (with nothing to break up the winter fatigue, black ice and gray skies but St. Patrick’s Day) is a shoo-in. Move it to March, and I’ll do it.

    Second choice: January.

  10. 11,870 words here. I was mainly working on an epistolary story that required looking up a lot of dates of fixed events and estimating mail delivery times. So it wasn’t really a good fit for NaNo. I did a little work on another story until one of the characters wanted a prequel, so I started that, too.

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