One draft never does it for me. I do as many drafts as the piece needs until I feel it is the best it can be.
So what steps does one take after Nano?
First of all, I’m a big believer in putting it away and letting it “rest” instead of diving right back to edit. In order to edit successfully, you have to be able to approach it as though it was written by someone else, and this is the first time you’ve ever read it. If you dive back in to edits, especially early in your career, it is less likely to happen.
I prefer leaving it for two months, although when I’ve been on deadline, sometimes it’s been as little as two weeks. If you actually finish your novel by the end of November, the end of January is a good time to start editing (that’s why I’ve always skipped NanoEdMo, because it starts at the beginning of January, and I think it’s too early).
Work on another draft. Put it away again. Work on another draft. Maybe this time you’ll have something you can show to your “Trusted Readers”. Once you’ve received their feedback, let the comments sink in for awhile before tackling the next round of edits. Whenever I get comments, whether it’s from my Trusted Readers or the editor that my publisher pays to guide me in the write direction, I let the notes sit for three days before acting on them. You need that time to get past the initial, “No one gets me!” that’s normal to notes and move into what you know, in your gut, works or does not work for your novel.
Also, remember, that the Nano forums remain open until just a few weeks before the next Nano begins – so you can maintain connections you made during this experience.
I hope you’re racing to the finish line, but even if you’re not where you feel you want to be, remember that: A) There are still a few more days until the end of the month; and B) you have more words on paper than you did when you started, and you’re working along your own commitment to the work. And that’s the important part.
Note: Since today is American Thanksgiving, the Marstons Mills Public Library is closed, and there is no Come Write In.