After NaNo, Now What?

Whatever the critics of NaNoWriMo have to say, I know this: at least NaNo gives me a tangible goal that I can’t change. There’s no weaseling out of it, pushing it back because I got busy distracted lazy.

It sure got hard to keep up the pace after I hit the 50,000-word mark. But on December 8, I did it: I finished the first draft of Consuming Fire.

Now what?

Set up the Christmas tree, of course.

Then it’s back to serious work.

It’s time to set some new goals, that’s what. And to that end, I thought I’d look back at my goals for 2014 and see just how well I did.

This year I planned to:

1. Write the memoir for my dying friend
2. Edit novel #1 of my fantasy quartet to be ready for publication
3. Finish the first draft of novel #2 and edit it to be ready for publication
4. Write novel #3 for NaNo
5. Plot novel #4
6. Blog weekly
7. Use social media to be social and build real connections
8. Find a good critique group

How much of all of this did I get done?

1. The memoir is written. Plucked from a Mango Tree has been through editing and proofreading. I hadn’t planned on helping her through publication, but that’s what I’m doing. We’ve decided on a cover design, and are working on the interior layout for the print version. Along the way, I set up my own publishing company (Open Water Books), as I’ll be my friend’s publisher.

2. I worked a lot on editing Raising Fear (just naming it was a job—giving books titles is not my strong point!). And I worked on the editing some more. What did I learn? I have a really hard time editing. I’ve sent the novel to a beta reader, but I know more editing is in my future.

3. In May I finished the first draft of Wanting Justice. It’s still sitting in the virtual drawer, waiting for its turn to be edited. It’s a little frustrating I never got back to it, but there is a benefit to this long wait. Which I learned when I worked on goal #4.

4. This one I can say: Finished! As I wrote, I could see that my skills as a writer had improved from when I started Raising Fear (#1). I also came up with some other plot elements that I can scatter in the early books, as well as some world building details that will tie the series together. So the strategy of drafting all the novels before publishing has at least given me the benefit of knowing I am creating better books.

5. In my original plan for the series, the book I wrote for NaNo was going to be the third. Instead, I took my initial ideas for books 3 and 4 and put them into one book, Consuming Fire. It will eventually be the fourth in the series. I came up with a whole new idea for a novel to take the third place in the series. Outlining is underway.

6. Another goal done. The discipline has been good, and has forced to keep learning and creating. Well worth the time.

7. I can’t say I was very successful at improving my game on the social media. I’ve learned a few things, however. Still, there’s much room for improvement.

8. I have found some people to do critiques, but not much. Critique Circle has been helpful for shorter selections. I have met some beta readers through Facebook writers’ groups. Through NaNo I found out about some other alternatives to pursue. But I’ve yet to establish a group a beta readers or critique partners who will really push me to write better than I thought I could.

So I’m 2 for 8, with six in various stages of done-or-not-so-doneness. I’m happy for the goals I hit. As for the others, they told me some things I need to do better next year.

What goals did you hit this year?

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