Ways to wrap up your 50,000 word writing sprint

National November Writing Month – the month when writers around the world join in a quick-fire effort to complete a story of 50,000 words in just 30 days – just finished. I’ve been marking it this month by re-posting some of the material I’ve published in past years to help writers get to that goal. Here’s the last of the re-posts, a way of taking that manuscript and pushing ahead with it


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – a worldwide spurt by writers to pen the first draft of a novel in a month – wrapped up this week.

Essential writing fuel!
Essential writing fuel!

OK, so you’ve got your manuscript. Finished or not. Polished or not. Probably not polished, actually – pushing out 50,000 words in a month, polished and finished, is something to tax even the most experienced writer.

The whole aim of NaNo, of course, isn’t to produce a finished novel – it’s to do the writing. It’s a learned skill, like any other, and the trick now is where next. My thoughts?

  1. Stick the manuscript in a metaphorical drawer for a month. Don’t look at it until after Christmas.
  2. When you do look at it, start reading from the beginning. Pretend you’ve never read it before.
  3. Now re-write it…

I pretty much guarantee that you’ll want to. And it’s worth succumbing to that temptation. Hemingway is always reputed to have said that the “first draft of anything is shit.” He’s right. But equally, getting that first draft written is also a challenge – one that NaNo helps people overcome.

There’s usually a lot of hard work, going from that first draft to a final book. Maybe the final won’t even match up much with the first draft – I mean, look at Tolkien, whose first casts at both The Hobbit and at The Lord Of The Rings were almost completely different from the finals.

It’s all grist to the mill – and it’s all good.

Click to buy
Click to buy

If you want some more writing tips and hints, and a method for pushing your book through, check out my short quick-start manual How to get writing… fast. Available on Kindle.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015 and 2018


8 thoughts on “Ways to wrap up your 50,000 word writing sprint

  1. I’ve heard it’s a no-no to rush that NaNo novel out to publishers and agents. Apparently their mailboxes are clogged with them in December. So Matthew’s advice is sound. As for me, I’ve never done Nanowrimo, but at present am wrestling with all kinds of loose ends and jagged plot bits of my work in progress. No chance of writing “The End” on the first draft until March.

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  2. -grin- First nano in 2004. Published a very different nth draft in 2013. Second nano in 2012, published in December 2016. Nano’s great, but anyone who thinks it leads to an instant novel is going to be disappointed.

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  3. I didn’t NaNo this year, but need to wrap up the first draft of my WIP before 2018 rounds the corner! It’s hard with company over the holidays, but family is my highest priority! My book can wait….

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    1. There are surprising number of books that do that! Probably have better sales than mine too. Hmmn… (best selling status is a funny thing in the New Zealand trade – there are two lists and it only takes sales of about 150 in a week to get to No. 1 on the smaller of them).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. It gets worse with more time – this very weekend I looked at some writing I put together two years ago for a publisher proposal (pitch plus sample material was about 14,000 words), which I’m re-working to re-pitch. Now I have a different set of ideas which will likely mean re-writing about 13,500 of those words (I exclude ‘a’, ‘the’, etc). The word ‘aaaaargh’ in the sense of ‘what was I thinking in 2016?’ springs to mind.


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