If completing the first draft of a manuscript has shown me anything, it is just how far away I am from having a published book.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not your clichéd writer wracked with self-doubt and Consumption. When I say that I have a long way to go, I do so with excitement– as this realisation was borne directly from my growing understanding of the process of publication. It meant that even though I had barely left my driveway, I was finally on the road that led to my longed-for destination.
People much further along in their writing journey than I am have already created a great resources about everything from eBooks to cover design. Instead, I am going to focus on what I am doing with the 50,000 words worth of recipes I had managed to produce by the end of November.
1. Celebrate your achievement (and not just if you won).
I have participated in Nanowrimo for five of the last six years, and won twice.
I have learned something valuable from the experience each time, including the year I didn’t participate. That year, I learned that I couldn’t passionately pursue two careers at once, and that I was going to have to choose which to pour my heart, soul, and every waking minute into.
So begin by celebrating what you have achieved, and what you learned in the process.
2. Work out why you write.
Now this might seem like too big an ask, or totally irrelevant to the pressing question of what to do in December, but bear with me.
Most of us write for one or more of the following reasons: we just enjoy writing; we think we have an important story or message and we want people to read it; we want to make a living doing something you love; we want fame, glory and riches.
How is this important post-Nano? Well, working out why you write will allow you to proceed in a way that makes you satisfied. If you just love writing, then perhaps you don’t need to do anything with your Nano project, because you’ve already done what you set out to achieve. If you want to get your message out, or make a living wage, then you might consider honing your manuscript while you acquire the multiple skills necessary to self publish. If it’s fame and fortune you want, then start working on getting an agent, because the crapshoot of traditional publishing is your best bet.
3. Time to plan!
Now that you know what writerly activity affords you a decent chance at happiness, start planning how you can pursue that path. To get an idea of what the necessary steps might be, I would recommend finding someone who has successfully done what you want to do, and reading as much as you can about how they achieved it. Unbeknownst to them, this person is your mentor.
My unwitting (and possibly unwilling) mentor is Joe Konrath, who runs the blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Although our genres are about as different as you can get (he writes gory horror and crime, while I write historical cookery books), my goal is to self-publish and self-promote, particularly on eBook platforms, and Konrath is the master at this. Reading through his blog archive, I took down pages of ideas, which I then marshalled into a plan of literary attack.
4. Make sure you actually execute your plan.
Every month, pick a goal or two from your list, and try your best to achieve it. Every month, not just November. No procrastination, no ‘writer’s block’, just hard work.
Read in your genre and out of it. Upskill yourself in editing, criminal law, food photography, typography, life in Colonial Australia – whatever is relevant. Throw yourself into the thrillingly complex world of being a modern writer.
5. Whatever happens – learn from it.
This month my goals are
· Get into a regular blogging schedule (by the way, thanks for helping with this one!)
· Write a full business plan
· Clear my desk so I have a place to write that doesn’t have any kids or dogs on it.
What are your December writing goals?