I have "finished" my novel, in the sense that I've written the last first-draft word. I uploaded it to NaNoWriMo for a validation count, and the robocounters came up with 64,155 words; Word counted 64,259, but I think Word was counting the Roman Numeral headings.
Does that mean I'm "finished" with it? No. All writers should know that the real work begins after the initial draft is "done." So now what?
Well, I think, while I'm waiting for NaNoWriMo to end (Nov. 30), that I'm going to let it sit. I already know what I need to do to remedy the plot, and I've made copious notes on that. I have several other novels that are in various stages of revision, and I need to work on those. I also have an idea for another novel, and I could spend some time on that. I don't want to get too far away from the NaNo novel, though. But I've got the writing jones now, and I feel as though I need to keep the momentum of this month.
Whenever I hear myself say, "I don't have time to write," I know I'm lying. If I can write 64,000 words and teach five classes, I don't have an excuse. What I need to do is to reserve those two hours a day for writing no matter what's going on.
I've been stealing time where I can. Some days, I write before I grade papers. Other days, I try writing in half-hour bursts between grading papers. I think it requires both discipline and flexibility in equal measure--the discipline to just do it, and the flexibility to fit it around all the other stuff I need to do.
Writing is hard work. I can't deny that. Some days, after I've put in the two hours and graded two sets of papers, my mind feels like mush, and I feel as though I've run a marathon. My muscles ache, especially my arms, fingers and neck, from sitting at a keyboard with minimal breaks. I've added stretching to my routine to work out the kinks.
I don't know what I "win" for completing this--probably a few "atta-girls" and the congratulations of my writing buddies. But I feel as though I've done something, and that's the best prize of all.