Stuff that Helps that I used to Hate (#nanowrimo)

1. Write-ins

I’ve never been a fan of meeting new people. That’s an odd thing for an undeniable extrovert to say, but it’s true: walking up to a crowd of unfamiliar faces that all turn toward you with a blank lack of recognition? Not my favorite activity ever.

That reluctance kept me away from NaNoWriMo write-ins for many years.

The other thing that kept me away? The part where you go to a gathering of nanowrimo folks and don’t end up getting one fucking word written. Not really surprising, when you think about it: take a bunch of people who are working on a brand-new, shiny story, sit them all down with readily available caffeine, and watch them (us) turn into cute little chatty hunks of non-productivity.

That was my experience with write-ins for the first couple years I showed up. It got to the point where I didn’t go unless I was ahead on my word count for the day, and since I’m almost never ahead on my word count… well, you see where this is going.

Saturday was different, though. Saturday, after a long day in a long class, I decided to drop in at a local write-in to clear my head.

It won’t help me get caught up, I thought, but at least I’ll get a free nanowrimo monkey sticker out of it.

I showed up about an hour after it’d gotten started at the local bookstore (Tattered Cover), snagged a frozen latte, and walked over to the circle of couches and comfy chairs where our particular nerd herd tends to assemble.

Good turn out. Lots of folks, most of whom I didn’t recognize.

No one looked up.

I mean it: no one. Hands on the keyboards, butts in the chairs, eyes on the screen, tappity tap.

Damn, I thought. I found a chair, pulled out the writing machine, and got to it.

About fifteen minutes later, everyone suddenly looked up, blinked, and started chatting. Some got up to snag another coffee or hit the head. I looked around for the professional hypnotist. Folks compared word counts, chatted about disobedient main characters, compared their laptops and recommended writing software they liked. The local ML came over and hooked me up with my monkey sticker.

This… this was the nanowrimo write-in I knew; the one I expected.

About twenty minutes later, though, it all came to a stop again. Everyone was back, everyone got settled, and the ML said “Okay, are we ready for another sprint?” There was a general murmured agreement.

A gah what-now? I thought. The only time I heard that phrase was when I’d used Write or Die in the past.

“How long are we going this time?” she asked the group. “A little shorter? Fifteen?”

Again, agreement. She set a time on her laptop, tapped a key, and said “Go.”

They went. We went. Boom. Writing. Heads down, fingers going. Focused.

I may not know much about how the writer-brain works, but I’ll tell you one thing that’s pretty consistent: it responds to deadlines. It responds especially well to looming deadlines.

I take back everything I ever said about the write-ins. Maybe the (excellent) MLs in Denver are the only ones to figure this little trick out, but maybe not — and if not, I have to recommend dropping by a write-in in your area. Socializing with the other nanowrimo crazies is always a good thing in the long run, but now it’s something else: now it helps.

2. Twitter

Now, I like twitter, but I don’t love the easily available distraction it provides when you need to get some writing done, so what changed my mind? Two things.

2a. The #nanowrimo hashtag

If you need a little inspiration, I humbly recommend checking out the #nanowrimo hashtag on twitter. For one thing, it’s really kind of neat to see all these excited and creative people talking about what they’re working on, but it also really encourages to you to get your butt in a chair and write.

How does it do that? The same way that seeing a guy you really don’t with an “I Voted” sticker on his shirt will get you to the Ballot Booth — all it takes is about four tweets where some rat bastard is all like “Just broke 30k on my #nanowrimo WIP” to get me back in my chair. Shame and Resentment, baby: that’s what makes the world go ’round.

Yeah, yeah: “shared creative energy” blah blah blah… sure. Whatever. Bottom line? We wanna beat that other dude.

2b. NaNoWordSprints

I hadn’t heard about NaNoWordSprints until a few days ago, and I highly recommend it if you can’t make a write-in but still want that feeling of someone firing off a starting gun and saying “Go!” It’s like a write-in for shut-ins. It seems to be something semi-official being done by the NaNoWriMo folks. Check it out. Make Twitter actually help you out this year.

Here’s the Thing

Marathons are hard; even people who run them all the time know they’re hard. People who do them for fun are a) crazy and b) actually running a more difficult race than the ‘regulars’ are, because they probably trained less, run less, and may not really know what they’re getting themselves into. They show up for the race and the veteran runners are like:

This NaNoWriMo thing is the same kind of deal. As De points out, professional authors like to say they they do NaNoWriMo every month and while that’s a cute answer, it’s not – strictly speaking – true. Yeah, they’ll often knock out 50k in a month, but for most everyone doing NaNoWriMo, it’s not just about getting the word count, it’s about getting the word count while holding down another full time job, filling out TPS reports, getting the kids to school, taking care of all the things that need to be done around the house, and all that.

Have help. Make friends. Connect with the folks who are running this crazy-ass race with you — who also don’t know really know what they’re in for. The whole thing may drive you crazy, but at least you’ll have company.

(Personal hurrah: Hidden Things is heading back out to publishers today to see who salutes. I am pleased. Agent Shana is pleased. Even some of the editors getting it are pleased. A good way to start the day. I took a look at an old copy of Hidden Things this weekend — the version that I actually queried with several years ago — it’s approximately 68% the size of the current manuscript, and even that version was a far different animal than the very first NaNoWriMo copy. I will throat punch anyone who tells me their NaNoWriMo story is ready for publication as of December 1st. I will do so jovially, but still: throat punch.)

November 2nd: Things I Don’t Like

It’s November 2nd. Here’s a few things I don’t like about November 2nd. Just a few.

First: the Internet. Yes, you, Internet. This is you:

Didja vote yet? Didja vote yet? Didja vote yet?

I voted days ago, Internet. STFU. Seriously.

Second: the folks who are trying to help you stay motivated for NaNoWriMo.

They’re like: “How’s it going on that, umm… Nah No Wree Mo thing? All done?”

And you’re like:

Something important is missing.

Seriously. You got six thousand words done on your first day — what did they do?

(Also: if you seriously got six thousand words done yesterday, I hate you a little bit — just a little. I’m still doing revisions, so I haven’t actually started NaNoWriMo yet. Soon. Soooon…)

The final thing on my short little list-of-dislikes today?


WHY is it that I always get a pile of good ideas for new stories when I’m already working on one two three other things?

OMG! Bakelite-punk! Awesome!

If you’re having this problem (and I’m going to guess that you either are, or will very shortly), get a notebook and keep it handy by your writing desk. Or writing space. Or wherever you do your thing. Writing Jacuzzi. Whatever. Keep a notebook handy, and when you get a shiny, new, distracting idea for a story, open up your notebook, write the idea down…

… and then slam that notebook shut as hard as you can. Punish those little bastards. They are not your friends right now: they’re like those exes who ignore you until they hear you’re dating someone new, then suddenly call you up and want to hook up for drinks. They have ulterior motives, is what I’m saying; do not trust them.

You know what I love, though? Two things.

1. Biting off more than I can chew.

What? Why are you looking at me like that?

Seriously, I think that’s my second favorite part of November: the insanity of it. De wrote a few weeks back about how we should always challenge ourselves to do more than we did the last time — I was pretty busy last November, but I do have a pretty good idea for what I’m going to accomplish this year; we’ll see how that turns out. I think that she really nailed one of the best things about NaNoWriMo: the opportunity to really push yourself. That’s good stuff.

2. Hanging out in the madhouse.
Kate said to me once “You’re really good at November,” by which I think she meant that I’m super productive during this month and often really struggle to stay focused a lot of the rest of the time. She’s right, and I think the reason for that is the simple fact that I’m like some kind of vampire creature who feeds off the collective creative energy oozing out of every tube on the internet this month.

Also me.

It’s heady stuff.

How about you? What do you love/hate about this time of year?

All Used Up

A few weeks back, some folks asked if I’d be ‘blogging NaNoWriMo’ again this year.

I said yes. Of course I said yes; I have a strong need for a feedback loop in the creative cycle, so knowing there’d be one built into a certain string of blog posts is an automatic draw for me.

But there was a seed of doubt.

Yes, I wrote a lot of advicey posts last year, and they were generally received very well — more importantly, folks found them useful. But the non-secret secret of those posts is that I was really just writing notes to myself, figuring (correctly) that if the writing process followed a fairly clear pattern from beginning to end (it does, at least for me), I’d end up writing something worthwhile for lots of people.

I’ll be honest: I’m not sure I can do it again.

I mean, the process is the same, right? The stages are the same, right? What if I said everything useful last year? What if I don’t have anything good left to say?

Then again…

Every single time I’ve ever written a story (obviously not just in November), it’s been different. The challenges have come in different places, and with different parts of the story. The stories themselves have been different, and certainly I’m learning different things (and the same old things, again) every time.

And I’m different. In editing together that ebook of the advice I wrote last year, I found some things I didn’t entirely agree with. I left them in, because it’s still good advice, but it’s not quite me anymore.

The question basically boiled down to whether or not I thought I still had any words left at all.

And there’s really only one way to find that out. You go looking for them.

Story Time
I grew up in South Dakota, on a farm. On that farm, we raised cattle. Cattle are pretty simple creatures; they generally require only two things:

  • Grass. (The ‘corn-fed beef’ ideal is a dangerous, illness-creating myth.)
  • Water.

Now, out on the Great Plains, grass isn’t much of a problem, but water sometimes is, and if your pastureland doesn’t have a convenient lake handy or an artesian well set up, your livestock has to rely on a dugout.

A dugout’s basically a man-made watering hole — it looks like a rectangular pond about the half the size of a football field, with a suspiciously uniform hill lying directly along one side of it. The reason it looks like this is because of how it was made; basically, someone just hopped in a backhoe and dug a big hole in the ground about where someone decided there must be an underground spring, then piled the dirt up alongside the hole for no other reason than it was the easiest thing to do.

As a kid, all the dugouts around my home where preexisting affairs — old enough for the piles of dirt next to them to have settled down, grown grass, and become practically indistinguishable from burial mounds. I had no concept of them as a Thing That Was Made.

Then, sometime during my teen years, a well in one of our more distant pastures dried up, and my dad decided to get a guy out there with his backhoe and make a dugout.

It was a pretty epic undertaking. Via methods I’m still not entirely clear on (and on which my dad and granddad disagree), the optimal location for a dugout was determined, the heavy equipment was rolled in, and the digging commenced.

Problem was, it was two days in, and they weren’t hitting a spring. The hole was getting DEEP; both it and the pile of dirt next to it were bigger than the backhoe that had made them, and still no water.

I and my granddad had driven out to check on the digging (partly, I’m sure, so my granddad could rib Dad about the big dry hole), and after a bit of ‘conversation’ on the topic, Grandpa had walked over to talk with the foreman. I was left standing next to my dad. We stared into this enormous hole for awhile — it was pretty damned impressive.

“So,” I asked, “what do you do when you don’t find water?”

Dad didn’t respond at first; he was still looking down into the hole, and I wasn’t sure he’d heard me over the roar of the backhoe. Then: “If you know the water’s there,” he said, “you just keep digging.”

“No matter what?”

“Yep,” he said. “You’ll hit it eventually.” He put his right hand on my left shoulder, leaned in, and pointed so I could sight down along his left arm like the barrel of a .22. There, along the walls of the dugout, where the backhoe had just pulled another scoop of dirt away, there was a thin, silvery snake of water, running down toward the bottom of what would become, over the next four days, the biggest and deepest and most consistently full dugout we’d ever had.

“Now,” he said, giving my shoulder a squeeze. “Walk around t’ other side there, and make sure your granddad sees that.”

He sounded more than a little smug.

This is a cold hard fact about writing. Sometimes, you won’t feel like there’s any words there. You’ll sit at your keyboard and think “Everyone’s got a novel in them, sure… but what if I only had one? What if I don’t have anything left to say?”

The water’s there. You know it is.

Keep digging til you hit it.

This is How I Get It Done: Making a quick ebook with Jutoh

This one’s going to be short, because I’ve kind of been looking at this screen all day.

A few days ago, I asked if anyone would be interested in getting all of my NaNoWriMo advice posts pulled together into some kind of epub format.

The answer was “yes.”

I kind of ignored that for a bit, because frankly I didn’t know where to start with creating something like that, beyond a PDF; all the stuff I used a few years ago is abandonware.

But today someone sent me an ebook they’d ‘just slapped together’ in eCub, so I went and looked at that.

It seemed fine, but I did notice this bit:

eCub does not do WYSIWYG or syntax-highlighted editing.

Hmm. I may be reading that wrong, but it sounds like it doesn’t do something like “highlight that word and hit ctrl-I for italics.” So… may a little simpler than I wanted.

But then I read:

You may like to consider the Jutoh ebook editor for easier, WYSIWYG editing, more sophisticated import, and greater configurability. Jutoh also handles footnotes, index entries and other aspects.

Well, that certainly seemed a lot closer to what I was looking for.

So I grabbed it, installed it, and got to work. First, I saved copies of all the individual posts as html files, then I pointed Jutoh at that directory full of a mess of html files, images, links, and… you know, stuff, and said “Do something with that, wouldja?”

Here is the result — This is How I Get It Done – Daily Kicks in the Ass for NaNoWriMo Authors, in:

It took me longer to get a decent picture of a composition notebook cover than it did to format the first chapter.

Now… it wasn’t THAT easy — I spent most of the afternoon cleaning out text I didn’t need, and dropping some (but not all — or even most) of the comments from the posts. And I had to recenter pictures and format the captions and…

Okay, yeah, it took awhile, but it was a piece of cake.

The end result (at least for the .mobi – I can’t check the others) is a document that Kate can read on her Kindle and I can read on my phone. The text formating is clean, the pictures are totally legible, the table of contents works perfectly, and all the links to other people’s websites (the commenters, for example) are live and do exactly what they should. I’d love to hear how it works for you guys on your readers of choice.

Unavoidable Snark: A whoooooole afternoon to format a clean, readable, twenty-three thousand word ebook with pictures and an extended reading list that reaches out to the rest of the internet. Yeah. Wow. I can totally see why publishers are charging as much for ebooks as hardbacks. Totally. Yeah.

Finally, for those folks who just want it in their browser, here’s the complete collection of the original posts.

Working Like a Rockstar (The October Forecast)

My short-term contract job came to an unhappy/happy end on Friday. And while you might assume ‘unhappy for me’, I’d have to say that the real unhappiness was felt by my now-ex-employers, who really wanted me to stay and really liked me; they just ran out of budget.

They liked me so much that my boss basically wrote the new update to my resume, bragging me up even more than I usually do myself. Contract jobs are actually pretty good in that way — you can come in like a superhero, smash the crap out of problems, gird yourself in accolades, and leave before office politics sully your fancy spandex costume.

The big trick is making sure you’ve got somewhere to land when you leap over the next tall building in a single bound. (Freelance writers will find this kind of thing very familiar; it’s a kind of rockstar lifestyle, assuming one reads that to mean “striving to see the difference between homelessness and living out of a tour van.”)

I may have a new gig lined up pretty soon — another -opolis that needs saving from an Atomic Menance — but to be perfectly honest I’ll be happy if there’s a bit of a lag before the next corporate thing.

I am ready to do some other things.

Let’s review what’s on the to-do list.

New cub.

There’s a new kid on the way to the Casa, so there are more than a few home projects going on. The kid’s room is actually pretty much ready to go, but in the meantime we’ve been working on other rooms in the house.

We’ve painted our bedroom and the front greatroom, and of course Kaylee’s new bedroom needs to be framed in and painted and carpeted and all that cool stuff, but we’re letting some professionals handle that, even though I’m pretty sure I could nail (heh) the framing part.

Then there’s painting the house itself. The outside. We must — absolutely must — paint the whole thing before winter, or we’ll need to replace all the siding next summer, and if I’ve got some time before the next gig, I’ll probably be doing that myself and saving us mumble-hundreds of dollars.

The main problem with this cunning plan is that there are three spots where the siding needs to be replaced, and of course the problem spots aren’t anywhere a mook like me could handle it — they’re complicated places like where the chimney meets the house, right under the eaves.

By the way: if you’re in the market for a house, or planning to build one? Fuck chimneys. I don’t care how much you want a fireplace; don’t do it. Embed a firepit in your deck or something. Chimneys are to houses what a bad smoking habit is to an otherwise healthy person.

Anyway. I am pretty much ready to go with the painting thing, but we’re going to have to wait until we can get these sections fixed by someone competent experienced.

Why isn't it ever simple?

NaNoWriMo is on the horizon, and the prepatory murmurs are audible even at this great distance. Some folks have asked if I’m ‘doing’ it again this year which… c’mon. Of course.

But I’ve got a lot of other stuff to do first. A publisher handed me some revision requests which — damn them — are actually really good, so I want to get those done and handed back to my awesome agent before October is dead and gone.

What will I be writing?

Actually, I have a story to finish that needs at least another 50k (well, two, actually, but I’m picking one over the other), so I’ll be getting it down. Yes, I know you’re not supposed to do that with NaNoWriMo, but at this point, I think I’ve done it legit often enough to pfff those kinds of restrictions.

But that’s just me; if you’re trying to finish NaNoWriMo for the first time, BY ALL MEANS OBSERVE THE RULES. Doing it my way (picking up an unfinished story) is actually making the whole thing harder; I’m just stupid self-challenging that way.

What would I write if I weren’t working on something extant? I dunno.

I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t suggest, though: steampunk.

I love the stuff currently lumped in under the heading of ‘steampunk’. Love it. But steampunk is kind of like vampires right now; something people mix in because it’s cool, not because the elements are being used in any kind of meaningful way. I’m getting sick of it.

You want to use the trappings? Fine. Call it whatever it really is, though — zeppelin fantasy, gogglerotica, or whatever.

Punk anything requires class struggle, the social effects of technological revolution, and people with no influence and power rebelling against a monolithic Authority.

Slapping goggles on your protagonist doesn’t make it steampunk.

Ahem. Anyway. Rant over. There’s my advice for NaNoWriMo. At least for today.

Hey, that reminds me.

Last year, I wrote a bunch of NaNoWriMo advice, broken down for day-by-day consumption. People seemed to dig it (and I’ll probably repost them to twitter as appropriate), but would there be any interest in seeing all those posts brought together into some kind of ebook-like thing prior to the start of the madness?

Not to buy, obviously — I’m not wondering if there’s money in it — I’m wondering if there’s enough interest to justify the work of putting it together before 11.01.10.

Is that it? I think that’s it. Damn but I’m out of practice writing these things — this post was all over the place — I’ve got blog-rust all over the keyboard now. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Nothing like being blocked from your own site during the day for the last two months to make you really pine to get some blogging done.

The Compiled NaNoWriMo Posts

  1. This is how I get it done – The one that got it all rolling. Still the most read.
  2. NaNoWriMo: Go/ – The starter gun fires.
  3. The Thing You Did Wrong Yesterday
  4. So, how’s it Going?
  5. Biting and Sucking are Fun
  6. Babble-On
  7. The First Time You Get Behind
  8. Dirty Trick #1: Killing Adverbs – Inspired by Chuck.
  9. In Which You Pass the Dreaded Day Seven
  10. A Really Mean Trick
  11. “You Ready to Listen?” – Inspired by Granddad.
  12. Keep Calm and Carry On
  13. It is not, in fact, better to Burn Out
  14. Ignoring your Inner Hermit
  15. Trusting Your Demon
  16. Rules of Three (Dirty Trick #2)
  17. It’s all about Falling Down – Inspired by Dad.
  18. Looking Ahead, Looking Behind – Inspired by Mom.
  19. Bang! (With Ninjas) – Inspired by Gaming.
  20. Dirty Trick #3: There’s always a Conflict – Inspired by De.
  21. Okay: How far behind are you?
  22. NaNoWriMo: Giving Back
  23. Contents Under Pressure: Possibly Habit Forming
  24. I feel like you Need a Pep Talk – Inspired by Floy-Jean.
  25. Using Time
  26. Charrrrrrge!
  27. In which you are a Turkey-day Ninja
  28. Cracking the WIP
  29. “Finish for Me” – Inspired by Bonnie.
  30. In which I am the Mean Parent
  31. NaNoWriMo: Fleeing the Sinking Ship
  32. NaNoWriMo: My personal retrospective and thanks

I’m planning on doing something with these nanowrimo pieces next year; I’m just not sure what, exactly. They’ll get reposted, yes. Might also make a free ebook out of them, just for the hell of it and for practice with making ebooks in various formats.

But for now, here they are.

#NaNoWriMo: My personal retrospective and thanks.

So over the course of the month, I got 50,128 words in on Adrift. Also, 22,508 words worth of NaNoWriMo Essays in on the blog, for 72,636 total (and actually a bit more, cuz I kept writing today, but whatever).

A pretty good month.
A pretty good month.

There are sort of two stories going on in Adrift. One is the scifi thing, and the other is the slightly more episodic series of fairytales that Finn told his daughter back when she was little and Everything Was Good.

These are the last two things I wrote in those stories, before I hit the NaNoWriMo End.


“Thank you,” he murmured, then stepped back and clapped me on my shoulder. “Go.”

I went.

And the Princess stories:

That was how the princess learned about the Spring Tree, and started on her greatest adventure yet.

I’m not done, but those a pretty good ‘end of section one’ lines.

Roughly speaking, I’m about halfway in, so I’ll keep writing in December and January (at a slightly lower daily wordcount), and I’m going to keep recording and posting podcasts until I’m done with that also, but November has been a good start, and I’m enjoying the hell out of the way it’s all unpacking from the spare little frame I built on Twitter.

I need to thank my wife Kate. She’s heard more excerpts from this book than anyone, but she’s heard them all in the wrong order and didn’t complain (much); she kept my distractions to a minimum, and she drove about nine hours of our 12 hour drive yesterday, just so that I could write and finish a day early.

And she’s awesome, just in general.

I also want to thank Chuck, Jennifer, Greg, Meera, Nicole, the Colorado MLs, ***Dave, Nick, Laura, Paige, Tina, Stephanie, Lise, De, Linley, Evf, Linda, Yi Shun, Ptocheia, Rebecca, Cynthia, Michelle, Ann Marie, Maggie, Frankie, Kaelin (Hyetal), Megan, Elysabeth, Danielle, Robert M, Eve, Velvet, Trev, Mur, Brian, Cat, Jamie, and the absolutely insane number of people who retweeted links to these posts around Twitter and the rest of the Internetverse. I started these posts for me, but I finished them because of you guys, and I’m really kind of proud of them.

You make me think about writing, and think better about writing. Thank you.

Tim White’s helped me so much with the podcast stuff. He gets a line all to himself.

And the story? This crazy story about a father trying to find and help his daughter?

The story is for Kaylee, which should surprise no one at all.

#NaNoWriMo: Fleeing the Sinking Ship

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 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.

I will come in after you, if necessary.
I will come in after you, if necessary.

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.

5. Once on the shore, celebrate.

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.

A moderate amount of celebration is encouraged.
A moderate amount of celebration is encouraged.

6. Thank the crew that got you there.
Go back to 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.

Have fun.