So National Novel Writing Month has just finished, and whether you won or lost, participants are generally well and truly burnt out by the time December comes. On top of general burn out, December is the season of holiday celebrations (November is too for those across the pond) which means that productivity is limited anyway. But here is a few tips I use to keep myself going after NaNoWriMo!
1. Set yourself a goal
Goal setting is a vital part of the productivity cycle, if you set no goals then how do you know if you are working towards what you want or away from it?
Goals should be smart, you have probably all heard of the acronym:
S– Specific – Your goals should tell you exactly what you want to accomplish (not be vague like ‘edit’ but rather ‘do plot twist checks on NaNoWriMo novel’).
M- Measurable – Tell yourself how much you want to get done (not ‘a lot’ but rather, ‘edit Act 1 and 2’).
A- Attainable – If you know that you have 4 parties and 6 pieces of homework due in one week, then don’t get yourself a huge goal for that week. Know how you work and what you can accomplish with the time you have.
R- Relevant – When you are working on a specific project, don’t randomly throw in a huge part of another project; stick to what you have to get done before exploring everything else you want to get done. (Don’t want to edit your NaNoWriMo novel and plan to start outlining another project at the same time)
T- Time bound – This is the most important step, because you can set; specific, measurable, attainable and relevant goals, but if you have no time limit there is no pressure to get them done and trust me, you will be putting them on the back burner every single day. Not to mention that in three months’ time you still wont have completed a task you could have done in a good days’ work.
2. Acknowledge that this isn’t NaNoWriMo any more…
National Novel Writing Month is designed to test writers, it is meant to push you and sometimes even break you. But it’s over now and you need to relax a bit. I understand that this isn’t the case for everyone, but generally December is a more relaxed month in terms of deadlines and pressure. You have just worked bloody hard throughout November, don’t push yourself too hard this month.
And I am not saying you should be lazy, in fact the opposite. I think you should still try and work on your novel for a little bit each day, if you can. But don’t set yourself a huge goal of editing the complete novel by the end of December because burn out is real and it hurts when you crash.
Take a few days where you don’t plan on touching your writing at all. Work on something else. Clean the house. Walk the dogs. Do something that feels productive but isn’t directly related to the project you have poured yourself into for the last 30 days.
I do two brainstorming sessions every year after NaNoWriMo, firstly I brainstorm what I want to do with my story. By this I don’t mean the writing process, I mean picking up different story points and expanding and developing the ideas around them. Yeah, you might have loved every scene you wrote during NaNoWriMo, but eventually you are going to have to cut some of those scenes.
I do this to start the editing process in a simple way, I take each key plot point and brainstorm what could happen with it (putting in what I actually wrote as well), then when I get to editing those scenes I can chose to keep what I wrote or develop it with an idea I came up with Post-NaNo.
Secondly, I brainstorm future story ideas. You have just spent 30 days completely focused on one project, your mind is probably swimming with ideas. Get them out of your head. Then when I want to work on a short piece instead of my project (all writers get days like this) then I have a supply of ideas ready to go.
So those are my three tips for coping with the NaNoWriMo blues, what are your top tips for staying productive after NaNoWriMo?
See you next time,