Monday 30 November 2015

Life After NaNo

Part Five of the NaNoWriMo series by Jeanette O'Hagan

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.

The Journey

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.
Your NaNo project is first draft — think structural edit and the other levels of editing, give it to beta-readers, get a professional edit — cut and polish your diamond in the rough.
  • 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 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

You can find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on her websites or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes .


  1. Great post, especially the advice about editing. I didn't participate this year, but am about to start my own writing challenge to get a draft done.

    Well done to everyone who participated :)

    1. Thanks Melissa. All the best with your writing challenge, they can be fun too :)

  2. Congratulations, Jenny. Incredible how many projects you've got on the go. I would expect you'll need a few days to catch up on sleep.

    All the best and do let us know when you're anthologies are available.

    1. Thanks Ian. I think I'll sleep after Christmas (just kidding). Another Time Another Place is being launched this Saturday and is already available on Amazon for pre-order. Dates for launch of Let the Sea Roar 12 December & Glimpses of Light 17 December.

  3. Good post, Jenny. You have juggled a lot of things this month but that's part of the fun isn't it? See you at the finish line later today :)

    1. I wasn't sure if I could do it - and I might have dropped a ball or two along the way, but I'm really chuffed to get back into the writing. A good morning's writing - and I've crossed the line. Waiting now to cheer you one when you cross later tonight :)

  4. Great post Jenny. I don't know how you managed to do NaNo this year with everything else you had on your plate. You're Wonder Woman! And congratulations to everyone who took part. As Jenny said, you're all winners because you've all written more than you would have otherwise and have all learned something in the process.

    1. Thanks Nola - not sure how I did it either. It's been a roller-coaster ride.

      And yes, it's about the process & writing more than we would have otherwise :)


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