What Comes After Writing? [NaNoWriMo Special]

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This year’s NaNoWriMo is almost over. This means that you surely have met your page count by now, or at least almost. Or, well, you are getting there, right? Don’t give up on the last days, the last pages! There is still some time to finish your NaNoWriMo 2016 masterpiece!

Yet, what comes after writing? You filled your pages, handwritten or typed on your computer or laptop. But… what now? There is more to writing then just putting words to paper, especially after you finished those 50,000 words.

Today, lets have a look at what you can or even should do after placing your pen down or pushing your keyboard away – both for your writing and for yourself.


What To Do After You’re Done Writing?

Of course, your novel is not finished after the last word you wrote and the last period you placed. To turn your writing into a novel, some more work is needed. But don’t worry: the major and most time-consuming part is done!


1. Waiting

You need a break from your book, for sure, but your book needs one as well. When you wrote that last sentence and happily clicked on “Save”, you can have your well-deserved rest. Treat yourself!

  • Lean back and do nothing
  • Reward yourself with a sweet treat
  • Take a hot bath or shower
  • Watch a silly or funny movie
  • Go out and enjoy nature

Not only will this break allow you to recharge your batteries, it will also put necessary distance between you and your book. While and shortly after writing, you have no perspective for your novel. What sounds good, what sounds bad? You are so into your story that you can not see what might puzzle your readers. Thus, let the book rest. Afterwards. you can fully dive into the next steps.


Perfect Relaxation Atmosphere

21abc7c373d0096e13d1484ce44e9729_fullLakeside Relaxation

Ocean waves with an airy pad. Soft music and occasional conga lines. Perfect for relaxing after a long and stressful writing process.



2. Revision

Revision is something many writers handle very differently from one another. Some incorporate the revision process in their active writing, going back through all chapters as soon as a new one is written out. However, it is a vital step to do after you “finished” your writing, even if you revised your work already in the writing process. One of the most famous approaches of revision is the A.R.R.R. approach:

  • Add
  • Rearrange
  • Remove
  • Replace

In the add phase, you should critically look at your book and try to find out if your readers will have all information they need. Is there anything else that should be mentioned, something that needs to be fleshed out more? In this stage, you can add to your writing and provide information and detail you may have missed out on.

During the rearrange phase, you have to look at your novel as a whole. Is the flow exactly how it should be? Does it make sense in which orders different things occur and is the flow uninterrupted? In this phase you can also play with the sequence the events in your story occur in. Maybe changing the order will serve the plot even better.

Remove is the opposite of the first phase of adding. While crucial information or deceiving plots may be needed for your story, unnecessary lengths will interrupt the reading flow and foster the disinterest of your readers. Get rid of what is not needed to understand your story or follow the happening.

The act of replacing should not be done all by yourself. Maybe this is the first time you are handing your work over to someone else to read it or you have already given people glimpses into your novel here and then. Either way, those second opinions can point out where there are logical holes in your story or where something is simply hard to understand. If some problems like these are pointed out in your story, try to rewrite and thus replace these parts.


3. Sharing

If you have shared your manuscript during the writing process or in the replacement phase of your revision already, that’s great. If not, now’s the time to do so.

A beta reader or second opinion on your novel is worth a lot. That way, you can find whatever has slipped you during the revision process. Sure, maybe that means that you’d have to revise your novel once more, but that’s a small price to pay to improve your book, isn’t it?

There are many different ways to get beta readers or gather opinions about your writing. During NaNoWriMo, writers can work together and revise each other’s work. Yet, you can of course rely on or create a critique group outside NaNoWriMo as well. Friends and family might be biased, but they are often times also very honest and know some of your weaknesses to especially have a look on them. Of course you could also hire a professional.

Having a larger group of critiques is also better than just relying on one person. If several, independent beta readers point out the same chapter, sequence or plot device, a change seems to be necessary there.


4. Editing

During revision, you look at your story more from a plot and content point of view. Once everything is fixed and fine there, it’s time to start editing. This entails no more changes in story or plot (unless you find something very striking last minute). Instead, it is now time to go through your novel sentence by sentence to check spelling, grammar, form, repetitions, punctuation and the like. This process can be rather straining and most published authors leave this part to a professional.


5. Publication

Once you went over your novel in detail, using all the feedback you got, you can decide to offer it for a broader audience than your circle of friends. This is the biggest step to take, yet also the most rewarding one.


The NaNoWriMo project also offers the possibility to join them during this after-writing process. In January and February, two to three months after NaNoWriMo, you can join your group again for the revision, editing and publishing process! Find out more here.

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