Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

November’s Over…Now What?

Ah, yes… the post-NaNo doldrums. Where else can you find the thrill of the roller coaster ride that is NaNo!? When will you team up with hundreds of thousands of strangers and do something crazy again? How will you possibly survive until next November? And just what are you supposed to do with the 50,000 words of amazing prose that you created last month?

The first thing you needed to do was celebrate! Even if you did not “win,” you still attempted to do something momentous and few people are brave enough to try it. So hopefully you whooped it up and partied the last few days. I hope, too, that you told everyone you encountered that you wrote a book – coworkers, friends, family, that counter person at the coffee place – they should all be told.

Now let’s address that last question above first. What to do with this two hundred plus page manuscript. Do NOT spit out a query letter this week. Your novel, no matter how much you love it, is not ready for public consumption. It is not even ready for your friends to read it. You need to let it cool in a drawer for a bit, say a month or three. Then you need to take it out, give it a hug, and attack it with a red pencil. Edit it; refine it; make it better.

After you have done two to ten rewrites, get some nit-picky grammar nazi friends to read it and attack it with their red pencils. Have them question anything that sounds awkward or gives them pause. Plot holes, inconsistent characters, flat story arcs – all of this needs to be addressed now.

Once you are fairly certain your book cannot be more perfect, query agents. If you are going the indie route, hire an editor who will no doubt find even more ways to refine it if they are worth their salt. Then edit some more. Look into the requirements for ISBN numbers, copyright, distribution and so on and decide if you are willing and able to put in the time and energy required to see this through. Do not go in and half-ass it. If you are going to do it, make sure you are putting out your very best work. This is the digital age and no doubt whatever you put out there will follow you for the rest of your life.

Aside from the editing and publishing, I suggest you do something non-book related to replenish the juices. Read, nap, take a walk, learn something new.

Write, of course. One book does not usually spell the end for someone who loves to put words on the page. Maybe shake up your muse and write a completely different genre or format.

If you still crave that stomach dropping thrill ride, go to an amusement park and ride an actual roller coaster, sign up for a race car driving class, drive through some sketchy neighborhoods and get your heart racing.

There are ways to survive til next November. And if you can’t wait, there is always Camp NaNo in the summer, or you can go to the NaNo group on Facebook or the NaNo forums and find some like minded folks who want to attempt NaNo in February, or May. 🙂

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