Whether or not you hit the 50k for NaNo, it’s time to set some new goals. Maybe you learned something about your limits during the month of November. You’re able to accomplish more than you realized, perhaps. Very exciting! Or it’s possible you discovered working at that speed isn’t productive for you, regardless of whether you’re writing, editing, plotting or revising. I find such discoveries exciting as well. Learning what works for us is always a wonderful thing.
It’s rare for a wrimo to finish the rough draft of an entire novel within the month. Are you going to continue the work on that novel, seeing it through to the final polishing? I am. I went back to the beginning for a brushing up of what I wrote at high speed. I’m also concerned about the timeline in the last 10k, so this run through is important for getting a handle on fixing it. There’s one of my personal goals.
It could be you’re so sick of that WIP, you want to work on something – ANYthing – else. Certainly understandable. My NaNo novel from last year was about 2/3 done by the end of the month. I made the 50k with a couple thousand to spare barely in time to verify. I was so tired of it, having pulled a couple all-nighters near the end, I’ve allowed it to languish since that Day o’ Verification. Sound familiar? Nothing wrong with that. Throw yourself into the new project and enjoy it.
NaNo will officially be done in just a few days. I have a couple quick tips for you before we move on:
- Write a bit more than 50k before you use the verification tool. Many people are stumped to discover it verifies the manuscript with fewer words than expected. It did it to me this year, so I’m particularly glad I wrote beyond the 50k.
- VERIFY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Do not wait until the last minute to verify your word count. So many people are doing that very thing and the servers have been known to bog down. I know of one established author who missed out on officially winning because the process lagged. She was verified about five minutes after midnight. Don’t let this happen to you.
So, the new goals thing. Whether you’re continuing, picking up an unfinished manuscript or beginning something new, it’s important to plan ahead.
- Carve out time to write. What time of day is the most productive for you? Chances are your NaNo experience taught you the answer to that one. Try to fit writing in during that time of day as often as possible. Make a commitment to yourself to write when you can, even if your schedule makes it unrealistic to designate a specific time of day.
- Keep your writing area straightened. Did your writing space get trashed during NaNo? Mine sure did. It does it with alarming regularity throughout the year. A writer friend once told me a messy desk thwarts the creative process. If this is true for you as well, another goal may be to take a little time each day or on a special day each week to set the stage properly. It’s not time taken away from writing. Rather, it makes your writing time more effective.
- Read. No, seriously, take time out of your schedule to kick back with a good book. You may find it inspirational, making way for new ideas and a fresh outlook on your own novel. You may wonder how the book ever made it to print, realizing your books are worth publication. Hey, you may simply enjoy the book and the process of reading.
- Challenge yourself by doing something new. Try facing down your fears of writing cons due to nervous shyness by buddying up with a friend. You might give writing in a different format, such as flash fiction, a shot. Try new software for writing or a new technique for plotting. Regardless of your approach, doing something new provides a fresh outlook and may even become part of your writing process.
- Develop a support group. Whether it’s a critique group, a group who meet at a local coffeehouse or simply a bunch of people on Twitter who are encouraging and share information, a supportive group can make all the difference. Just as important is being taken seriously by family and friends. If you let them know how important writing is to you, you may find they’re your best cheering section.
Those are five simple goals to kick it off. Try to set aside time routinely for writing. Keep your writing environment uncluttered. Read. Try something new, big or small. Surround yourself with people who stick by and encourage you.
A key element to reaching your goals is setting them properly. Be realistic in whether you can do each one on your list. Is it a wish list or is it a list of reachable goals? For example, I have such respect for those of you who have full-time jobs and/or take care of a family and still make time to write. It’s the rare person in those circumstances who can develop a routine schedule for writing time. Don’t let that dissuade you. “I will write when the kids take their naps at least three days each week,” may be your routine time.
An important note: no one’s grading you on whether you hit each bullet point on your goals list. If for some reason you continually drop the ball on one of them, it may simply be because it’s unrealistic. Try to identify stepping stones which lead you from Point A to Point B.
Setting new goals is an exciting process. It’s one we should routinely do and review. As we learn more about ourselves and our needs, our goals will evolve to reflect our changing selves.
So what are your goals? You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.