For better or worse, NaNoWriMo is over on Monday. You’ve gone through the highs and lows, pondered your sanity and pounded out thousands of words of prose. Now that you’re ready to come emerge from your self-imposed writer exile, you’re probably wondering what to do after NaNoWriMo? Here’s some quick advice.

1. Finish that draft!

Even if you hit your word count goal, your novel might still not be done. Keep that momentum going. Don’t fall off the wagon now that you’ve spent a hard-earned month developing that writing habit — keep on trucking! The longer you can string together consecutive days, the more ingrained a behavior becomes. While other writers are making New Year’s resolutions to write consistently, you’re already two months ahead of the game.

nanowrimo_2_w2. Add some elbow grease

Just because you’ve typed “The End” doesn’t mean your book is done. As Sean Platt of the Self Publishing Podcast advises: say it, say what you mean, say it well. Your manuscript will need at least a second draft and a professional edit. Although it’s perfectly fine to take a month or so off from the project so you can revise with fresh eyes (rhyme intended), don’t let that writing habit we just talked about fall my the wayside. Work on a short story or another book in between the first and second draft. When you do come back to your work, pretend you’re going over it not as the author, but as your ideal reader. Keep a notebook handy to jot down any changes you’d like to make and ideas you have. If you spot any copy errors, fix them! The less work your editor has to do, the happier both of you will be.

3. Start on the next book

If you’re serious about becoming a full-time author, you need to develop a catalog. Even Hugh Howey had several books out before Wool went wild. Starting out, the best thing you can do is put your nose back to the grindstone and write another novel. It’s time to apply everything you’ve learned and improve on it — outline better and write faster using a stronger voice.

Silhouette of Success4. Give yourself a pat on the back

Seriously, good job! Whether you conquered NaNoWriMo or not, you still took action and that’s the most important thing. When you’re immersed in the writing world all the time, it’s easy to feel like writing a book isn’t that big of deal. It is. For every author in this business, there are three people out there who have a book in their heads but don’t the courage do anything more than dream about it. You’re making your dreams come true and you there’s not reason not to be proud of your efforts.

How did your NaNoWriMo go? Comment below and tell us about your successes (or failures).

 wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913 Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.