A lot of you reading this blog are writers yourselves, and we had a tribe of people tackle National Novel Writing Month this past November! I know how rewarding it is to type, “The End,” but finishing that first draft is far from the end of your book’s journey.

This year, the NaNoWriMo organization wants to see you not only finish your first draft, but actually revise, edit, and polish your books so that you are prepared to send them off into the world! But revising can sound a lot easier than it actually is. That’s why I’m giving you some of my best revision tips below to help you get started.

Read your book start to finish. You don’t know what you’re working with in its entirety unless you start the editing process by reading your book cover to cover. It might be painful, and you are going to want to edit along the way—I urge you to stay focused on reading. This is the best way to gauge if you need to work on big things like plot holes, without getting caught up in grammar or wonky sentences.

Make an outline. Outline your book the way you have it written, and then move that outline around or make additions and deletions to it when you start deciding on your next steps. Laying it all out on the table is the easiest way to make sure you’re not leaving anything out!

Dedicate your time to it. You might think revising should be easier than writing, and so things like daily word counts or daily hours might not need to be as demanding as they were in NaNoWriMo. I would argue, though, that revisions require even more time. Treat this part of the process as the most important piece, and you will see major results!

Get feedback someone you trust. Whether you hire an editor, recruit some old English major friends, or give it to someone you know loves to read, gaining outside feedback is extremely important to the editing process. We are too close to our own material to accurately decipher the problems with it, so getting an outside perspective will help you to understand the way your book is coming across to someone who doesn’t know it at all.

Did you write a novel during NaNoWriMo? Let me know what your revision process looks like in the comments!