You Lost Nano, Now What?
When the clock strikes midnight on November 30th, there will be quite a lot of hoopla among the writing community. People will be up late congratulating each other, claiming their badges of honor, swapping out social media cover pics and all that jazz.
And wine. All of the wine.
But, if you’re like me? You’ll be doing one of two things. Sulking or sleeping. I prefer sleep (and also wine) but to each their own.
I won’t be “winning” NaNoWriMo this year. In fact, I didn’t even NaNo. (I just made NaNo a verb, just pointing that out.) I have participated in NaNaWrimo for the last five years. I was even a half-assed moderator last year. I wanted to be all in, but the stress level got the best of me.
Out of those five years, I “won” once. And out of those same five years, I wrote. A lot. During all of the other months. I wrote poetry, short stories, and created a ridiculous number of WIPs that will take all my life to finish. I also helped start this wonderful OWS family and kicked off my very own Patreon account.
I am writing all of the words, all of the time. Maybe I write 50k in month. Maybe I don’t. But, I’m writing consistently. And editing. And rewriting.
The moral of the story is that “losing” Nano isn’t some literary Final Destination. It’s just a Thing You Did. So, what do you do now? You realize you are still on fire and you:
Stop, Drop, and Roll!
Stop Beating Yourself Up
Seriously, first things first, you haven’t lost. You’re not a loser, and this wasn’t a competition in the traditional sense of the word. NaNoWrimo is just a fun global community activity that helps build writing networks and foster productivity. The only writer you were ever competing with was yourself. And you’re pretty awesome so that was a tough matchup!
Instead of feeling disappointed, focus on what you have learned throughout this month that you can move forward with. Did you discover a writing process or routine that works best for you? Or even, eliminated ones that don’t? Maybe you figured out which time of day you do your best writing. Did you figure out that taking a selfie holding your phone above you at a downward angle garners less chins and more cleavage? Oh…just me then?
Every experience is an opportunity to learn. Hopefully, through this process and through posts we’ve shared this month like How to make Non-linear Writing your Friend and 10 Tips to Reward Your Writing Resolve, you will have gained more tools to build with.
Drop The Word Count Watch
This month you will have spent 30 days tracking word counts like world peace depended on it. The writing sprints, charts, and constant comparisons were as routine as morning coffee. Enough. “Word count” is not the crux of a good story. 99% of readers couldn’t tell you what the word count was in the last book they read. Why? Because they don’t care. We care, we the writers.
Your readers are waiting for your story. They wait for your characters to woo them to magical places, to take them on adventures, and to watch them fall in love. Or to die. Again, to each their own. There is not a single reader out there biting their nails, nerve wracked just hoping that John Doe Writer throws 62,543 words in their lap.
Roll With The Story
Maybe you came really close to 50k words or maybe you never got past jotting down your story idea. I’m going to assume, since you’re here, you made some measurable progress. Which means, you’ve made some measurable progress. Keep plugging away at that story. Do it at your pace, at your story’s pace. Here at OWS, we offer you a wealth of advice, tools, and prompts to keep you writing every day of the week.
If you pantsed your way through NaNo now might be a good time to read over what you have written. Start putting your main plot points out and placing them into an outline to help you polish up your arcs and to check your timeline for inconsistencies.
Or, maybe what you have is still a bit of a mess. That is okay. Read it. Read again. Read it a third time. Then, tear it apart. I am sure you probably have some killer scenes and some well rounded characters who just need a better plot. Now is the time to separate the curds from the whey or something to that effect. Our Write Side is constantly looking for ways to help you improve your craft. We would love to hear about everyone’s NaNoWrimo experience, and we’d like to know how we can help.
Do you have unanswered questions about NaNoWriMo, the writing process, or what your next step is? Reach out to us, someone is almost always around and willing to lend an ear.
You can visit us here on the site or pop into our Facebook community for some fun, supportive interaction with out writers.
Until next time, scribe happy and stay sassy,
Amanda Mabry is one of the founders of OWS and our Executive Marketing Director. If you haven’t already, be sure to visit her Patreon page for a dark and stormy walk through the park of her imagination. New stories are posted monthly along with playlists, polls, and more. You can read her supernatural thriller, Next Best Seller, in Tales From Our Write Side and her poetry in Ambrosia both available on Amazon.