Whether you accomplished the word count or not, somewhere on your hard drive is at least the beginnings of a story. To those who completed the word count, a huge congratulations. In a month that saw the value of the project alternatively condoned and defended across major news sites, writing 50,000 words in 30 days should feel like the huge accomplishment that it is.
For some, writing like crazy for a month is enough and they are happy to leave their entry as is, filed away on a USB somewhere. I even met one long time participant who cheerfully deletes his completed entry every December 1st; convinced that it is the exercise and not the result that matters.
For some people, however, NaNoWriMo may have sparked or reignited an interest in writing. Or feel that their story, rough as it is, has some potential and are curious to see what a bit more work, a fresh pair of eyes, some feedback and most importantly, some readers could do.
In December, when there are no more NaNoWriMo hashtags popping up on Twitter and bloggers have moved onto more topical news, you can still keep the camaraderie and motivation alive to take your story to the next level. Here's a list of ideas for your novel, whatever stage it's in, to consider after midnight November 30th.
1. Join a Writers Club for Feedback: If you live in a city, a quick look at Craigslist or your local library is a great place to start. Authors living in less populous areas can find virtual writing clubs hosted by blogs, writing communities, online courses and even some libraries have online clubs for writers to trade work back and forth.
2. Keep Writing: If you didn't finish in time, start a less intense writing schedule that realistically fits your schedule. Professional authors generally write every day, but there's no hard and fixed rule. Pencil in some time that works for you and stick to it. NaNoWriMo has some additional projects that run throughout the year to help you along.
3. Raise Your Standards: NaNoWriMo is all about silencing your inner critic and letting your imagination run unchecked. When the only person you're writing for is yourself this is incredibly freeing. If you're looking to do more with your novel; however, edit your story to fill in the plot holes, round out your characters and fix those passages that have been bothering you since November 9th.
4. Acquire Readers: There are some great reading sites online and membership is usually free. These communities can help keep some of the writing spirit that makes NaNoWriMo so fun alive. On social eReading communities, such as Wattpad, you'll be able to connect with other authors, find readers and gain feedback on your work. You can also join forums online, where you can often find very interesting discussions about self-publishing and the writing process.
5. Blog: If you're feeling less motivated, take inspiration from bloggers and post your novel on your blog. If you have an existing readership that counts on you posting regularly, they will help keep you inspired.
6. Maybe it's Not a Novel: Maybe now, reviewing your document, you realize you've been writing the true story of your grandparent's immigration or how you dealt with a life-changing event last year. Perhaps you couldn't finish because what you've really been writing is a great short story, movie script, free verse poem or graphic novel. Without the NaNoWriMo moniker and timeline staring down at you, embrace whatever you have written for what it is and work from there.