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  • Writer's pictureGina Greenlee, Author

You’ve Finished Your Novel. Now What?

Woman smiling
Image credit: Joel Mott on

That smile is a beautiful place to start!

Woman jumping
Image credit: Clay Banks on

Celebrate! You showed up for yourself.

Rest. You’ve tried something new. Stepping out of your comfort zone requires energy investment above the norm, so give yourself a break. In the Meantime, put distance between you and the manuscript. For one month. It’s baking.

A break doesn’t mean you’re doing nothing. Your subconscious is busy processing and synthesizing. It’s like literal baking: You put the ingredients in for your cake – eggs, flour, sugar, butter, assorted flavorings. Stir that puppy up. Put it in the oven. do you sit there nose to nose with the oven door, watching it bake? Asking every two minutes, “Is the cake ready, is the cake ready, is the cake ready?”

Of course you don’t.

You live your life. Go to work. The movies. Eat with family. Pay your bills. Mow the lawn, make your bed. When baking a cake, you let the oven do what it does while you do what you do. No different than when your novel is baking. You let the subconscious take over and do its work.

When the month is up, take your novel out of the proverbial oven and read it. What you read will inform you of your next step.

In the grand scream of life quote
Image credit: Ryan Ratliff for Gina Greenlee

What about me, you ask? Did I draft a 50,000-word novel? I sure did. And here’s the working title.

I can’t say it makes a whole lot of sense, which the working title implies. And that’s okay. My goal was to have FUN, not make sense. My goal was to show up for myself and play with words; have fun in the sandbox. I haven’t done that in over a year and I was overdue. I enjoyed dipping into my “experimental novel” files that had been collecting dust for five years. I gave myself permission to play.

Also, in case I didn’t make it clear, “NaNoWriMo itself discourages editing throughout the month of November. This is simply to help writers get their word count finished.”

Hush Life Book Cover
Image credit: Ryan Ratliff for Gina Greenlee

I did author a readable novel in 2015. Published it, too. It’s called Hush Life and it’s available on Amazon.

Have a Ball Book Cover
Image credit: Ryan Ratliff for Gina Greenlee

I did not use the NaNoWriMo process to write Hush Life. Still, I had so much fun discovering my way to its completion that I documented my process in the book, Have a Ball Writing Your First Novel.

So, what do the creators and administrators of NaNoWriMo say about what’s next for the novel you wrote during November 2021? Check out National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo), which operates on a similar structure as NaNoWriMo. It happens every year at the same time during the month of March. NaNoWriMo sets a goal of 50,000 words written in November. NaNoEdMo follows the same theme, challenging writers to spend a total of 50 hours editing in a single month.

“While the original founders of NaNoEdMo did not remain invested in the concept for very long, they knew what they were doing,” write the founders of Squibler whose mission it is to “empower writers to create their best work and publish it anywhere.” The folks at Squibler have taken up the mantle of NaNoEdMo and say this about the editing process: “There is no doubt that NaNoWriMo is amazing in many ways. It has become a huge international event that helps thousands of writers. Once November ends though, many people neglect to continue their efforts. NaNoWriMo does have other initiatives that run throughout the year. These do provide many useful resources, but there needs to be an emphasis on editing.” If you want to produce a readable manuscript, NaNoEdMo (by way of Squibler), can help.

Until next November, NaNoWriMo 2022!

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