The NaNoWriMo boat is sinking. Some folks saw the writing on the wall early on and got off the ship when they could. That’s fine: they’re safe, but they didn’t get to see some of the cool things we did.
And we’ve seen some mighty fine things, haven’t we?
Speaking just for myself, I saw ships exploding and squirrels talking; I saw my wife laugh aloud at lines from the science fiction part of my story, the fairytale part, and my essays. I got to read one of the “Forest of Anything” fairytales to my family’s kids for bedtime on Saturday night. The kids liked it, and the adults listened in and seemed to like it too.
I got a text from my mom the next day:
“Your dad said to me today: ‘Doyce really can write. Isn’t that something?'”
That felt pretty good to read. Good feelings.
And that’s all nice, but… not to repeat myself, the boat is sinking. It’s time to get off.
Here’s what you need to do.
Note: this is not a series of tips on what to do with your story now that it’s done. Chuck Wendig has already written that post for you today. It is exactly what I would tell you, with the added bonus that it is (I suspect) better said than I’d have said it. If you want to see those tips, go read his post.
No, this is just a post about what you do to wrap up NaNoWriMo. I’m basically writing advice for myself most of the time anyway, and as I’m not done with my story, I can’t really write about what to do with it when it’s done.
1. Pack up your most precious belongings.
Make copies of your story. Multiple copies. Put them in several locations. I’ve recommended Dropbox in the past, but you can simply email a copy to yourself, or upload it to google docs, or just put it on two different computers. Me? I’m doing several of those things.
2. Make sure you get your seat on the lifeboat.
Go to nanrowrimo.org and verify your word count. There are instructions on the site, but the basic idea is you copy all the text from your story, paste it into a box on your profile page, save the profile, and it verifies that you’re awesome.
3. Help others.
Not everyone is done yet. For some folks, it is going to be down to the wire, and I’ve been there, so let me reassure you: encouragement help. If you’re on Twitter, watch the #nanowrimo thread and throw a quite “you can do it” at people who think they can’t make it. Pull those stragglers out of the water and into the lifeboat. Dive down into the water if you have to. We are nothing if we can’t both survive and help others survive as well.
4. Don’t look back.
I do not recommend that you go back and read the story right now. Wait until January first at the earliest.
Are you kidding me? You just wrote fifty THOUSAND WORDS (or more). Buy yourself something pretty. Dance on the roof. Take an entire day to get caught up on all the DVR’d shows you missed. Have End-of-NaNoWriMo sex. SOMETHING. You’re done writing the story, so it’s ENTIRELY OKAY to break your arm patting yourself on the back.
6. Thank the crew that got you there.
Go back to nanrowrimo.org. Donate. Give back. They do some good things, these people, some of them for you, so say thanks. If you don’t have the funds for it, check out their helpful page on ‘how to donate if you don’t have money’.
Also, go around to those people in your life or out on the internets who helped you get through this thing. Your spouse. Your kids. Your family. Your friends.
7. If necessary, book another cruise.
I’m not done with my story. Roughly speaking, I’m halfway in. So I’ll keep writing in December and January (at a slightly lower daily wordcount), and I’ll keep recording and posting podcasts until I’m done.
And then I’ll see where I am.
If you’re not done with your story, keep writing. Make it as consistent and regular as you can — every day if at all possible, even if it’s only a page. It’s a page more than you had.
And read. Lordy lordy, I can’t tell you how happy I’ll be to have more time to read again.
That’s it. The ship is sunk. We’re rowing away, headed for shore, but the story isn’t over. The journey isn’t over. (It never is, til we’re dead, and maybe not even then.)
There is always more work to do. There is always more fun to have. There is always another adventure.
This is the Forest of Anything.
Get back to work.