Since many of my writing mates wrote about Nano, I’m going to get in on the action, too. But from a different perspective. I’m going to write about the unexpected things I got from Nano. Hint: it wasn’t 50,000 words. Not this year.
The first thing I got was the knowledge that I have some great writing friends. They’re supportive and knowledgeable and ready to jump in with an answer to some unexpected research questions or a plotting problem or to offer up a heartfelt yet simple “You CAN do it!”
The second thing I learned was that I can, when motivated, write very quickly. If I always wrote as much and as fast as I wrote during timed sprints, I could have a book done in weeks. Which would be great, if my plots were ever cohesive the first time around. And that leads us to discovered item #3:
The plot of my current WIP was MIA. I had a good grasp of my character, a potential premise, but absolutely nothing happened to her. She had experiences. Lovely, uplifting, life-affirming experiences. All great things, but not the things required to make a book. At least not a book anyone but my grandmother (who is passed, unfortunately) would find gripping. Come to think of it, even she would tell me it was crap and to figure out how to make it a proper book.
So, in my Nano experience, I wrote a lot of scenes (23,000 words worth!) and in the process realized more than anything I was getting to know my character rather than actually putting steps into place. I’m not the least bit unhappy about it. Now I know what Gemma’s story is, and now I know what needs to happen in the other 75,000 words I need to write (and then cut, cut, cut and add, add, add).
The point is, Nano may have been intended to get a book out in 30 days, but I think you can consider yourself a winner if your novel benefits from the experience, 50,000 words or not. Building writing relationships, learning about your own writing capabilities, and finding the core of your story are as important as getting those words on paper (or in my case, screen).