We’ve reached the end of November and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is coming to an end. Whether you’ve completed your 50,000-word goal, or just put some words down on your manuscript, you may be wondering what’s next. For those who plan on writing more than 50,000 words in their story, the next step may be easy–finish the book. For everyone else, now comes decision time.

First, if you put even one word into your manuscript, congratulate yourself.

Though the traditional goal is 50,000 words, things happen. Life gets in the way. So even if you didn’t make your goal, celebrate the words you did write. You made progress, and any progress is good.

Next, put the manuscript aside.

Give it time to breathe. Relax. NaNoWriMo can be an intense time. For many of us we’re also entering into the holiday season, which can bring it’s own stressors. If you can, put the book aside until after the first of the year. I’d suggest giving it at least a couple of weeks if possible.

Then, go back and read it.

Don’t get too critical, but make notes. Can something be improved? Did you really like a passage? Read your manuscript and make notes. Once that’s done, you can begin the editing process. After that? Either send it to your editor to self-publish or begin making the query or submission rounds. But before you get to this point, you need to complete those edits.

And, of course, if you’re looking for an editor, I’d love to talk to you about making your NaNoWriMo manuscript shine.