Firstly, congratulations! You have done amazingly well to reach your writing goal.
You now have a large number of words of varying quality. They may or may not tell a complete, consistent story. But that’s just fine. NaNoWriMo is about getting the words on the page, and you’ve done that. The next step is editing.
Why do I need to edit?
Editing is a vital step in creating a fully fledged book. As you read through your words, you will find some sections that are, frankly, poor. But you’ll also find areas of pure brilliance and lots of work that just needs a bit of polish for it to shine. That’s the whole purpose of editing: to find the gems, fix the weaker parts, and end up with something you’re really proud of. And you deserve to be proud of it, given the time and love you’ve already given it.
I don’t know where to start!
It may be that you need to take some time away from your November writing and come back to it fresh in the new year. Alternatively, you may be feeling inspired and want to crack on straight away – do whichever works for you.
In the same way that the structure of NaNoWriMo helped you do the writing, structure can help you edit. Editing can be a long, laborious task. The key to accomplishing it is to break it down and have small, clear goals. In November, you may have written 1,667 words every day, or you may have focused your writing on three days a week. The same principle that worked for your writing will work again for your editing. You could set yourself the task of editing 1,667 of your words each day, especially if you find short deadlines push you into action. Or you may want to set a less pressured pace of 5,000 words a week, or two hours every Sunday.
The point is to have a pattern and pace that works for you. It needs to keep you moving towards that glorious finished manuscript.
Once you’re done editing you will have something you’re proud of and you may want to share it. But it’s up to you how you choose to do that. If you want to just email the document to a few close friends, that’s absolutely fine; it’s your work and your choice. You may decide to submit it to traditional publishers, in which case good luck. If you want to investigate self publishing, we can help.
Any other tips?
Remember to celebrate the small wins. Edited a whole chapter? Well done! Turned an OK paragraph into something lovely? Brilliant! Every time you edit even a few sentences, the whole work is improved.