Congratulations! It’s December 1st. If you participated in National Novel Writing Month, you will finally find yourself with a little free time on your hands. So what do you do next? Here are my suggestions:
Celebrate! You just spent a month writing a novel and that merits some form of celebration. Treat yourself to a brownie at your local coffee shop or make yourself a nice dinner. Or celebrate by not making yourself a nice dinner and celebrating with a “night off” of all responsibilities. Just make sure to mark your accomplishment in some way.
Hug your family and friends. Because they let you disappear for a month and (hopefully!) didn’t give you too much grief about it. Because they cooked their own meals (or dialed the pizza delivery number themselves) or didn’t complain to heavily about the laundry that piled up or rugs that went unvacuumed.
Run all the errands that you put off in November. Yes, real life has to resume. This is the decidedly unfun part of the post-NaNo process. So just do it. Take a day to go to the bank or return that long overdue library book. You might find it’s actually nice to get out of the house again.
Put your manuscript away. I’d say put the novel in a drawer, but unless you’re keen on printing out 200 pages, you might just want to do as I do and create a special folder on your computer, label it “DRAWER,” and drop your draft file(s) in there for a while. Or maybe you just close the file and don’t open it. Whatever you choose, you need time away from your draft for a bit. As tempting as it may be to rush into the editing process, don’t. Ignore your manuscript for a month, or a week if you absolutely cannot control yourself. When you return to it, you’ll have a more objective perspective on it.
Read a book. Just in case you let the reading slip in favor of the writing, now is an excellent time to pick up a book again and remind yourself that reading is fuel for writing. So fuel up for your next round.
Start something new. If you don’t take any of my other suggestions, please take this one. Sit down on December 1st and write. You don’t have to write another novel in a month, in fact, definitely don’t write another novel in a month. You don’t want to burn yourself out. But write something — maybe a two-page brain dump in the morning or list all the story ideas you were forced to ignore during NaNoWriMo. Over the month of November, you made writing a priority in your life. You don’t have to wait until next November to do it again; you can do it every single day. And I hope you will.