I just got a pep talk from Grant Faulkner in my NaNoWriMo inbox on keeping momentum after NaNo. Here’s an excerpt. Every writer should read this. If you’re a WriMo and haven’t read the whole thing in your inbox, check it out now!
“Dear Fellow Writers,
Life might be described in a single word: momentum. We’re always moving—forward, sideways, backward, upward, or even spinning hopelessly in circles. Like a protagonist in a novel, we try to determine our momentum, and we often succeed, but we’re also at the mercy of external forces. A benevolent force might enter the picture and sweep us forward, as if we’re catching a wave. But then there are those malevolent forces that always lurk about, flexing their muscles like bullies, ready to push us down, tease us, chase us away (or just hand us bills to pay). We have to figure out a way to get up, move on, and find another wave to ride.
Each December 1, I wake up jazzed with the excitement of having a novel in hand (and perhaps just a wee bit exhausted). Misty swirls of my story world seep through my mind, and my heart beats with plot points and possibilities—because now that I have a rough draft, I can hear the second draft calling me. NaNo has given me more than the gift of a new novel; it’s given me creative momentum.
Several years ago, I found myself in such a trap. More accurately, I constructed such a trap (that’s the worst thing about negative momentum: you can be your own bully). I’d just finished a couple drafts of my first novel, and I’d sent it to agents and editors with grand dreams of publishing. I got some nibbles here and there, but in the end, there were no takers. If I could go back in time, I’d whisper in the ear of my younger self to revise the novel again—to focus on the encouragement I received, get some good beta readers, and revise with their feedback in mind—but I decided the novel wasn’t good enough, so I gave up.
I’m still confused by my actions and attitudes during that time and don’t quite know how to explain them, but I must have focused so much on the “can’t” that I didn’t allow much room for the “can.” But NaNoWriMo is a wave of “can.” (Emphasis mine—Jess)
The spirit and momentum of NaNo don’t have to stop just because it’s December.
Life is momentum. Life is stories. Let’s keep our stories going.
It’s easy to fall into the NaNoWriMo hangover and to lose momentum. The dangers are the same after you finish any first draft, whether you wrote it during NaNoWriMo or not. DON’T fall into that trap. Don’t lose faith in your writing ability, your story, or yourself. You have great stories to tell, so look to the writing community and keep going. Keep trudging forward.
Don’t stop writing.