To the writer that reached their word count target but didn’t finish their story yet,
It was such a tremendous high to hit that word count goal, wasn’t it? It doesn’t matter how many NaNoWriMo challenges I’ve done, there’s nothing like the rush of setting and crushing a goal—of committing to do something and doing it. Boom!
You’re feeling pretty darn awesome right now, and you should be. You got such a huge chunk done, and you’re well on your way to finishing your story at last. For many of you, this may be the most you’ve ever written in your life, or in such a short amount of time, and you should absolutely be basking in the glow of victory. Look at that mountain of words you’ve got and know you’ve written more in a single month than many will write in their entire lives. Bust out the champagne and celebrate that because you freaking ROCK!
But there’s that pesky elephant in the corner of your room pooping on your festive mood. Because while you did accomplish the difficult task of writing 50,000 words in a month, you didn’t actually finish the story. You don’t have a finished first draft of a book, and now all the fun and motivation of NaNoWriMo is over so how are you going to motivate yourself to keep writing?
Breathe. You’re in good company. This is where the majority of NaNoWriMo winners find themselves as the month ends.
I know how tempting it is to take a break from your novel, just for a few weeks, because you deserve it, don’t you after all that work? But then you get involved with family stuff and the holidays, and suddenly it’s months and then years and you’ve lost not just the thread of your story, but often the interest in writing it at all. The fun and frenzy of NaNoWriMo is so great that you’re a little unprepared for how much harder it is to make yourself write without all the bells and whistles of the challenge and community. Even though I’ve got a regular writing habit and log five-digit word counts every month, the NaNoWriMo months are still always my biggest writing months. It’s just so much easier to write with all the hubbub of the challenge than it is when it’s just me and my keyboard all alone.
Your future self isn’t going to prioritize this book like the You of Now. That lazy jerk can and will try to sabotage all the hard work you did. This is why I need to stress that you can’t stop now. Your story is fresh in your head, you’ve got some momentum behind you, and you’re already in the habit of writing regularly. If you wait, you’re only making it harder for yourself to pick it back up again, and many find they never can.
The word-count goal of NaNoWriMo is an arbitrary benchmark. What you really set out to do was write a book, and you’ve nearly done it. You’re standing at a threshold right now. You can be that person who wrote an entire book or that person that wrote some of a book and… stopped there. You’re so close; it doesn’t make sense to quit now.
Keep writing until you reach the end. See this thing all the way through. I promise you, that break will be so much sweeter when you’ve fully earned it and have completed your novel.