Autumn, Halloween, and NaNoWriMo have come and gone. Since my last post almost three months ago, I’ve survived most of my first semester of college and now prepare to fight my way through massive papers and finals. My writing went to shambles due to new schedules and other commitments. However, a number of writers were far more productive.
Many writers spent November pumping out 50,000 words. If you were one of them and met that goal, congrats! Even if you didn’t meet your goal, you at least started on that book you wanted to write. Simply starting a book is a massive goal, especially if you fear a blank page staring back at you.
But now, what do you do with the book you started or “finished”?
With the busy mayhem of November over, what have you done with your free time? Netflix marathons? After I wrote 25,000 words in Camp NaNoWriMo in July, I spent August reading on the beach. August proved to be my least productive month of the year. So, to get you out of your lazy habits, here are a few ideas for using your time productively so you can finish or publish your book:
- Fix plot holes
This was, and still may be, one of the biggest struggles for me when I write something. It is easy to get caught up in the newest idea and add something into a story that contradicts your character’s main goal. Maybe it’s a simple plot hole like you gave your character blue eyes in chapter 1, but by chapter 7 they magically have green eyes. (Or you made a really big blunder like I did in Black Forest. I started the major battle in the story on the wrong day which messed with the rest of my timeline.)
- Make a thorough calendar
If you haven’t already, outline your novel and carefully keep track of the dates. You don’t want your main character arriving to face your villain early, do you? Also, start tentatively planning when you want to release your book. I suggest not setting an exact date as a number of complications and delays can happen, but start figuring out what self-publishing company you may want to use or if you want to traditionally publish. Having a calendar to stick to will help keep you on track in the long run. (Note: I have learned adding more time than you think you need is a good idea.)
- Edit, Edit, Edit!
Unless you’re a grammar fanatic, you dread this part of the process. Why can’t you be creative and altogether avoid editing? Can’t your writing be good enough to avoid editing?
The answer is no. You must edit.
Don’t hire an editor until you are finished with the work and are sure that you’re ready for publication. Self-editing is important and comes way before hiring anybody else to read your work. Go through your own writing and look for errors. Edit on your computer or, as I tend to do, print your book off and mark errors while you sit in the bath. If you aren’t sure about the exact rules of grammar, I suggest buying a program called “Grammarly.” It isn’t perfect and doesn’t take the place of an editor, but it will make your job a little easier. It also won’t break your bank as you can usually get it during a holiday promotional sale for $80. If not, it’s only $140 full price.
- Find Beta Readers
Beta Readers are people who will read your work prepublication and give you feedback on a number of areas such as plot, grammar, characters and a number of other areas. You can find Beta Readers online on writing forums or recruit close friends to read your book. A word of caution on using close friends or family: they may tell you it’s great when really, you could use another look at your plot. Or, they may get frustrated that you ask them to read your work. My point? Choose your beta readers wisely and make sure they are at least familiar with the genre you’re aiming for.
- Keep Writing
This may seem obvious, but it is easy to get caught up in Christmas and the New Year and forget about your story. Don’t let it get too dusty in a forgotten drawer. Try to write every day, but…
- Don’t get too close to your work
This last point may seem a contradiction to everything else in this post, but sometimes you need to walk away from your writing. I don’t mean forever, but let it rest for a few days, weeks, or even months. Some people find it useful to leave their story alone for a time to come up with more ideas or to come back to their writing with fresher eyes.
As always, hope this post helps.