*Original story posted for Week 54 of Battle of the Blogs in 2016.
Her fingertips feathered the keys of her keyboard, driven by the ache to write something, anything. Words, for that still, silent moment, apart for the whistling of the wind outside her window, seemed to elude her.
She drummed her too-long fingernails against her writing desk and let out a frustrated sigh. She knew what she wanted to say, knew how to fix the mistake that was before her, she just had to muster her patience and allow the words to flow forth in their own time.
Writing from scratch and revisions never came in a microwavable package. The finished product always promised to be good, better than good, but it required the stamina of a crock pot, slow-cooked until the words fell from the pages into the reader’s imagination like succulent meat dripping from their bones.
As if savoring the aroma that wafted from her imagination, she closed her eyes and smiled as the scene played out upon her eyelids. Yes, she had it now. Her fingers, set at the ready, danced across the keyboard with the familiar music that delighted and sped up the beating of her heart into a glorious tattoo.
Like feathers upon the wind, the story floated around her, until the scene was finished, the revisions were done, and the belly of her muse was full as if from a savory meal cooked to perfection.
THE END…BUT NOW WHAT?
Many of you fantastic creatives set out over the month of November to create a literary tome of excellence. You set up your outlines, isolated plot points, and then when the first of the month hit, so too did your fingers hit the keys on your keyboards.
The adventure was fruitful, some days were more exhilarating than others, but still, you managed to reach novel status or at least get pretty close to it.
But now what? Now that NaNoWriMo has come and gone, what are you to do now?
- Keep Writing: Just like with the character in the short story above, you have to keep writing your story. If you didn’t reach 50k words in the allotted time that is okay. Every story, every piece of art grows at its own pace. Honor that, but do keep writing.
- Acknowledge your first draft for what it is: Novel status achieved or not, there is still worthy work ahead of you. Microwaves are good in the kitchen on an emergency basis, but microwave works of fiction aren’t good anywhere. What I mean is that you still need to ‘work’ your story into perfection even after you write the final words ‘THE END’. That moment is actually the beginning of really turning your WIP into a masterpiece
- Give yourself a deadline to finish the first draft: My first go at NaNoWriMo took me a little less than 30 days to hit novel status and 96 days to complete the story as a whole. For me (with many of the stories I’ve written…and like you, need to polish for publication) 90 days is the sweet-spot. There is less pressure to continue with manic writing, but enough of a push to keep you focused.
- Give yourself breathing room and time to mentally regroup: I recommend writing until your story is actually finished BUT sometimes, some narratives are so complex that your mind and muse simply need a break. Take a few weeks off if you need to. Either remove yourself from the story completely for a spell, or give yourself distance but allow your mind to gently work through the conflicts that are still ahead.
- BONUS ENJOY THE ROAD AHEAD: After completing 30 days of writing, you’ve earned it! Give yourself a pat on the back for coming this far. It was no small thing, but you did it!
“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” ~ Helen Keller
~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!