You’ve just finished the colossal task of writing a novel in a month! Congratulations! After devoting so much of your time, energy, and determination to this adventure, you have a right to feel euphoric. And maybe a little let down that it’s all over.
The word counts are in, the project is over. It’s time to move on to life after NaNoWriMo. So what did we learn from the 50,000-word dash?
Never sell yourself short
Runners call it “the kick,” a sprint toward the end of a race, and it’s a real phenomenon in creative projects as well. Just yesterday I wouldn’t have thought that I could produce 4,200 words in two and a half hours, but I did. In October, I wouldn’t have thought I could write a whole novel in a month amidst the holiday season, but I did. Sometimes the biggest obstacle to accomplishing your goal is worrying that you can’t.
Habits don’t happen overnight
They do happen in finite, manageable amounts of time, usually measured in weeks or months. Habits can also die much more quickly than they are created. After putting in all that work, do you really want to throw it away?
If you think that you can ‘take a week off’ and come back to it… good luck. If you are able to do that, let me know, because I’d love to find out the secret! Otherwise, you need to keep at it. You can decrease the intensity, though! Instead of 1,667, write 500 words per day for a week instead. Or even 250 words per day. When you’ve decompressed from the insanity of NaNoWriMo, you can ramp back up to whatever word count you’re comfortable with. This way, you at least keep your habit going.
Saying yes means saying no
Saying yes to creative projects will mean saying no to other things. Writing this novel woke me up early and kept me up late; there were parties I didn’t attend and games I didn’t play because of it. It came with me on holiday travel. Your creative passion should be a priority, and that will mean missing out on some other things
Nanowrimo is a means, not an end. If you’ve completed this journey, you’ve exceeded your perceived limitations. You have built a habit of writing daily. You’ve become accustomed to making that habit a priority. And perhaps you have created the first draft of a novel. These are lasting benefits, not one-time accomplishments, but just like muscles, they have to be exercised regularly.
Set your next goal. Be undaunted in your choice. Make it a habit. Keep that habit a priority. Learning to do this was the point all along.