One more day to go and NaNoWriMo is over for this year at least. For many of us, it has been a wild and exhilarating ride. There have been frustrations, obstacles, disappointments, wins, triumphs and laughter. I’ve particularly enjoyed sharing the journey with my fellow NaNo-nauts as we cheered each over on, commiserated with the difficulties and shared some wacky humour.
To be honest, this has been my toughest NaNo. I’m currently 1461 words off goal (I’ve got one more day to ace it, right?). I was flat out before NaNo started – so felt underprepared going in, I was away for all or part of three weekends in November — with craft camp, writers’ retreats and festivals. And, I’m in the final throes of publishing two anthologies (Let the Sea Roar, Glimpses of Light) with rapidly approaching release dates, plus involved in the launch of another this coming Saturday (Another Time, Another Place). Despite it all, it’s been a blast giving priority to writing words my current novel, to rediscovering my story and allowing it to take me on a journey. So whether I make the 50,000 words tomorrow or not, it’s been worth it.
I know others have struggled against greater obstacles, some insurmountable. For one friend, it was her husband's unexpected serious health crisis. For others, it has been their own health or work, study and family commitments.
One fellow traveller quipped. ‘My learning this year is doing NaNo in November is nuts,’ while another said, ‘My learning point: don't sign up for NaNo and a writing course that takes a day a week in the same month.’ Some fellow Nano-nauts had great difficulty in giving their internal editor a well-deserved vacation (at least until December), while others took the rebel route, using the month for a variety of writing projects or for editing. NaNoWriMo is after all what you make it.
Yet despite these obstacles, most agreed they wrote more words than they would have otherwise, in many cases achieving personal bests.
Some even powered through the words, writing 80,000 words or more or completing the 50,000 a week early.
But whether participants achieved a phenomenal 80,000, a fantastic 50,000 or a solid and substantial 30,000 or a respectable 10,000 words for the month of November, for most it has been a valuable experience.
One participant said, ‘Having done it before meant I also knew the importance of a plan.’
Another said, ‘Best thing I got from the month was getting back into a disciplined writing routine.'
A third commented, ‘One thing NaNo has taught me is that it's possible to write reasonably well and quickly. For me the learning has been about my process not the result. I have developed a better routine and a better understanding of what inspires me.’
So what next?
Now that NaNoWriMo is (almost) finished — what happens next? Is there life after NaNo? Here’s some suggestions:
- Celebrate your wins — yes, minor or major, they all are worthy of celebrating :)
- Take a well-earned rest (for a few days at least).
- Finished your novel? Do yourself a favour and resist the urge to publish it on Kindle tomorrow.
- Haven’t quite finished your novel? Keep writing.
- Edit, edit, edit &, if necessary, re-write.
- Take advantages of the discounts and offers available for NaNo winners.
- Bring the things you learnt — about the daily discipline of writing, of making it a commitment, about writing faster, of writing even when it feels like Chinese water torture, of being in the flow – into your normal writing process.
- Think ahead — clear your schedule, have your project planned for Camp July or NaNoWriMo next year.
Remember — whatever your final total was, whether you had to abandon the project mid-way or finished with more than 50,000 words — you are a winner!
You have words on the page, you have lessons learned, you have a new insight into yourself as a writer. The only way not to win, was never to have started.
Part One: What is NaNoWriMo? 3rd August 2015
Part Two:Why do NaNo? (Pros and Cons) 7 September 2015
Part Three: Preparing for NaNo 5 October 2015
Part Five: Is there life after NaNo? 30 November 2015(That’s this one)
Jeanette O'Hagan was thrilled to receive second prize in the FAWQ Poetry prize this year. She has a short stories published or about to be published Tied in Pink Romance Anthology (2014), Another Time Another Place, Let the Sea Roar, Glimpses of Light and Like a Girl, and has poems in the Poetica Christi’s Inner Child and Brio (FAWQ). She has practiced medicine, studied communication, history and theology. She cares for her children, has just finished her Masters of Arts (Writing) at Swinburne University and is writing her Akrad's fantasy fiction series. You can read some of her short fiction here.