Monday, December 2, 2013
Agency Lessons: Winning Nano
I signed up to participate this year, and after a rocky start, marshmallow middle and flailing end to the month, I'm excited to say "I lost". Or at least, I didn't win in the official 50K words in a month goal. However, I have about half of that started toward a story I wasn't sure I wanted to write.
If you participated and won, Congratulations! That's a lot of words in a short period of time and you have a lot to be proud of.
If you participated and lost, Congratulations! Even if you didn't hit 50K, you probably have more words today than you did on Nov. 1st and that's something to be proud of.
If you didn't participated, but wrote something (anything) this month, Congratulations! NaNo isn't for everyone and it certainly isn't the only way to write. If you put words on the page, you should be proud of yourself.
Because here's the deal. I love NaNo. I love it for the community, the motivation, the challenge. I love it because it gets folks who've been on the fence about writing to get off their duff (or rather on their duff) and write.
But there's a reason so many agencies close to submissions starting December 1st. Besides the chance to end the year caught up and spend time with our families, it's also because we want to remove the temptation to submit queries for NaNo projects.
Not that your NaNo novel can't become something glorious. There are plenty of examples of these promptly penned pages going on to greatness. But it's not there yet, because there is an universal rule in writing (and there are very few of them). All first drafts need work. Most of them are rubbish, though that isn't a requirement. But even if yours is "pretty good", there's not a snowball's chance in Hell it's brilliant. And that's what it needs to be before you query with it.
And most writers know this, that you have to edit, revise, rewrite, repeat until you get it right. So do yourself a favor and take a break from your new novel and take a shower. Maybe clean your house. Then go back and get started on the real work of sculpting your baby book into the very best manuscript you can.
Give yourself permission to take your time. NaNoWriMo may have been a sprint to the finish, but the next stage isn't a race. There is no gold star for being the first to query. And when you're ready, I'm opening back up to queries on January 2nd. :)