#NaNoWriMo: Looking Past the 30th

It’s the last week of National Novel Writing Month, and if you’ve been working on a novel, you’ll probably be figuring out exactly how to stick the landing by Friday—maybe you know what the ending is, and you just have to get everything locked into place; maybe you’re still trying to figure out the big finish.

Either way, you’ve done a lot of work so far, and you should be proud! But don’t stop too long to congratulate yourself just yet. (Especially since, if you’re like me, Thanksgiving and Black Friday may have been a bit of a wash, as far as productivity was concerned, and you’ve got to regain your pace to make it to the finish line.)

I hope that you’ve been finding yourself looking forward to each day’s writing session—not that the work has become any easier, necessarily, but that it’s been easier for you to make the daily decision to block out some time for your writing. Whatever your novel looks like right now, you’ve also been busy proving to yourself that it is possible to develop a writing practice. Ideally, you’ll be able to carry that practice with you into December and beyond.

You may decide that you’ve hit upon a pretty good story, and spend some time trying to refine it in additional drafts. But even if you decide that you can’t figure out how to make that story work, and you drop the manuscript in a drawer or a digital folder, you can continue to stick with the writing.

The point isn’t to wake up on December 1st and keep producing 1,000 or more words a day. You don’t need to keep up the #NaNoWriMo pace all year long. You probably can’t keep up that pace all year long. The point is that you shouldn’t stop striving to discover what it is you have to share with the world, and you shouldn’t stop learning how to put it into words. If you’re not working on a manuscript, keep thinking about stories; keep a notebook handy to get the good ideas out of your head and put them in a permanent location where you can pick them up again later. Read a good book! And then, when you’re ready, you can start writing again. You can even give yourself more than a month on that next project—just keep up the work!

But let’s not get too caught up in that vision of the writer’s life just yet. After all, there’s a story you’re working on now, and five days of work left before it’s done…