NaNoWriMo is a series of victories. Committing to do it is the first one. Sticking with it for 30 days is another. Reaching 50K is yet another. Actually finishing a manuscript is another still. In six years of NaNoing (and six years of winning, ;-D ), I have only finished a full manuscript first draft on one occasion within the 30 days, and that was the first year I participated (2006). That book's been published: The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing. My second NaNovel (drafted in 2007) has at last found a home and a publisher and will be coming out around the New Year: Rose & Thorn. Those are two more victories.
Last year, the greatest victory for me was making 50K. It was like pulling teeth! It was a misery! Not that I don't love the book and its characters. Don't get me wrong on that. It was just that I think I had a combination of burn-out (It was the third book in that particular universe, three NaNoWriMos in a row.), and some sort of fifth-year slump. A friend experienced the latter this year, so there may be something to that theory.
This year, the challenge was that, while I love the idea behind this year's story, I don't feel like I'm telling it very well. It's tough to stay motivated when you feel like your book is clunky and awkward. I had to remind myself that the goal was to get it out there, not make it The Next Great Novel (TM) right off the bat. So that's what I've done. I've gotten it out there. It's not done yet, and it won't be done by midnight on Wednesday. But it is getting there. And I think, once I am finished, and I've literally cut and pasted it into a better order of events, and then edited the hell out of it, that it's going to be a pretty damn fine book. Whether the final products is still over 50K words... Well, that remains to be seen.
Has anyone else been NaNoing this year (or in past years) and want to share your experiences? I'd love to hear it in the comments!