Part 3: Coming Down from the High

Here's the final part of my workshop:

A miracle has happened. The thirty days are over. And you have a brand new spankin’ novel. Like many achievements, it takes a while to sink in. You’re not quite sure how you did it. You’re sitting in front of your computer starting at the final chapter that you just clicked “save” on. You’ve checked your folder and all thirty chapters are there. What do you do now?

First: Set your novel aside for awhile.

I know you have the momentum going. You think it’ll be okay to start editing right away.

Not necessarily.

Remember: You have been in writing mode for thirty days.

You need to take the time to decompress. It’s like rising from the depths of the sea after scuba diving. If you don’t do it right, there are consequences. This is the same with editing the novel right after you’ve finished writing it. At this point, you’re too close to the story to get any sort of perspective. You won’t be able to see the forest for the trees.

Take a step back. Let yourself breathe.

“What do I do now?” You might ask.

If you’ve stopped reading during the time you were writing, this is a great time to start up again. Catch up with other things you might have missed while writing. This is the break you’ve been waiting for. Like I said, writing a novel in 30 days is an intense process. Now is the time you relax and take a break. Or, if you have another novel you’ve set aside that you haven’t edited for a while, now is a good time to work on that.

Then you might say, “But you just said I shouldn’t start editing.”

Don’t edit the new one yet. It’s like taking a cake out of the oven. You need to let it sit for a while before you cut into it. Working on something else will actually help you slowly get into editing mode.

“Should I write a new story?”

I would advise against that because you can easily burn yourself out that way. This is why many artists from generations ago died at an early age. They got obsessed with the process. Writing a novel in thirty days isn’t something I recommend for someone to do month after month. Give yourself breaks in between so your brain doesn’t explode on you.

“How long should I stay away from my new novel?”

Give it a week at least. More would be better. You’ll see, when you reread it with fresh eyes, you’ll know what needs changing and where to start editing. This is because you are now a more experienced writer than you were before you started.

Example: My novel Til Death, which is contracted with Entangled. I have not touched that story for a year. The person I was when I wrote it hadn’t gone through the editor experience. Now, when I reread the story for the editing process with Entangled, I have a better idea of what to do. I see the plot holes better. I can see when transition is needed and where there is a lack of motivation. All because I have taken the time to set the story aside and grow as a writer in the meantime.

Second: What if you haven’t finished your novel after thirty days?

This can definitely happen.

Example: My companion novel to Taste called Savor. The thirty day mark rolled around and I knew I was still a few chapters shy of the ending. There’s nothing wrong with continuing so long as you maintain the chapter a day routine.

Now, what happens if you’re not seeing an end in sight?

This is where stepping away from the story will help. Take a day to think about what you’ve written so far. Evaluate what’s happened to your characters in the last thirty chapters. Without rereading the chapters, of course.

Example: My YA paranormal romance about werewolves.

My characters have fallen in love. What happens next? I know in my gut something has to happen to break the two of them up. What is this event? Once I’ve thought about that event, I can begin to put chapters together that will ensure they get back together. My characters getting back together after jumping the hurdle (which can be the climax to your story) is actually how my novel ends.

Remember: Recall the genre and category of your novel.

Based from your reading experience, think about novels similar in genre to yours. How did these novels end? Having this as a baseline will help you find a suitable ending to your novel.

Remember: Your aim is to achieve your goal of completing a novel in 30 days.

Everything boils down to editing. I believe this is where the real work happens during the writing process. This is where you take what you already have and making it better. If you don’t have anything to work with, then you won’t have anything to make better. This is the real purpose to writing a novel in 30 days. It’s to complete the story. Once that is done, you start working on fixing it.

Third: Reward Yourself

I’ve said this enough times: writing a novel in 30 days is intense. Like someone who has lost a significant amount of weight and rewards his or her self with a new wardrobe, reward yourself for the achievement.

You just wrote a novel. Not everyone can do what you’ve just done. Give your kids a hug, your hubby a kiss, and maybe treat yourself to a manicure/pedicure or a guilty pleasure you’ve been holding off on.

I personally buy myself a dress or a pair of shoes. Sometimes, just grabbing a burger from my favorite place in town is more than enough of a reward for a job well done.

Also, rewarding yourself doesn’t have to be at the end of the month only. You can even give yourself mini rewards on a daily basis for finishing a chapter. Or, if every day is too much, give yourself a mini reward at the end of each week. You’re doing this to give yourself a sense of well-being  Not only do you get to see your story on paper, you have given yourself more than just pat on the back for your hard work.

The concept of reward is a special thing, and should be used more often.

Alright, it’s that time again. Leave your questions in the comment’s section and I will answer them as soon as possible. :)    

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