You have a first draft. Now what?

Many of you have recently finished NaNoWriMo. Or maybe you finished the first draft of a non-NaNo project. Either way, you have a first draft done. Yay! But what do you do with it now?

  1. Celebrate! Really, you earned it. I suggest creating a first-draft celebratory tradition. For me, I always buy a box of Star Crunch to reward myself. Maybe you buy yourself books or indulge in a little Netflix binge. Whatever it is, go ahead and treat yo self.treat yo self
  2. Let it sit. Sometimes this is easy. I know that I am so sick of my recently-completed NaNoWriMo project that I have no problem setting it aside for a month. Sometimes, though, I feel like I’ve got momentum and I want to keep working. In those cases I jot down whatever ideas I have and then put the project aside for a bit.
  3. Decide what your longterm goals are. Where do you see this book down the road. Are you wanting it traditionally published? Self published? Maybe it’s just a novel for you to learn how to write a little better and you don’t plan on publishing it at all. Whatever it is, knowing what you want for the book longterm will help you decide what to do with it next.
  4. Make a revision plan. Now that your project has sat awhile, you should reread it. I usually reread the whole thing before I make any changes, and I take notes while rereading. Figure out what needs changing and how you’re going to change it. I also find it helpful to make sort of a timeline for these revisions, even though I pretty much never follow my timeline. Then, get going on those revisions.
  5. Polish. Repeat steps 1-4 until your manuscript is as clean as you can make it.

And that’s how you get your manuscript ready for the next step! Congratulations to all of you who finished NaNoWriMo. Keep working on those novels until they’re ready to take on the world!

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