So you’re a NaNoWriMo winner. Now what?

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Despite what some people think, participating in National Novel Writing Month doesn’t mean you end up with a finished novel by the end of the 30 days. Far from it. What you end up with is a really, really rough draft. But that is such a huge first step so don’t underestimate how amazing it is.


The few times that I’ve completed NaNoWriMo (2007, 2008, 2010), I haven’t intended to do anything with my draft once the month was over. They were just writing exercises, something I did for the sake of writing and to learn how to ignore those voices in my head that tell me that I can’t do it.

But this year was a little different. I got an idea for a novel, I did some research (it’s a historical fiction), and took some notes during the month of October. Since November 1st was right around the corner and I knew how much of a motivator NaNoWriMo had been for me in the past, I decided it was the perfect time to start writing my novel.

So now that the month is over and I won (yay!), I’m left with 50,000 words. Some are great, most are awful. But that doesn’t matter. Now I can move on with the next steps. Wondering what those are? Here are five things you can do now that you’ve written 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo:

Celebrate: I had a delicious cupcake when I crossed the finish line, but you should do whatever makes you happy. Reward yourself! You deserve it.

Ignore: Leave your manuscript alone for a while. Don’t look at it or think about it for a few weeks. I’m going to ignore mine until after the holidays. Then it’s back to work.

Read: Reading what I frantically wrote during November should be…interesting. Certain scenes will be cringeworthy, but that’s where the next steps come in.

Write: Most novels are closer to 100,000 words, so you still have some ground to cover. Develop your characters more, dive further into the plot. I need to get some more research done and then I’ll have a bunch more scenes to write.

Edit: And then edit some more. This is where your great idea becomes a book. It can take months or years, but it will happen.

Congrats to all my fellow NaNoWriMo winners!

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