I "won" this year, as I did last year. Meaning I wrote at least 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. It's hard to explain to people the concept,the idea that that's "all" I had to do to win. They ask where can they buy it, or when will it be published. Tiny steps, I tell them, as the aim of this is to provide the focus and encouragement to get writers, or would-be writers, to shutup and write.
But it was harder this year to finish. Before I started last year I was worried that I'd never get it done, as it was my first major writing project ever. So, to prepare, I had planned like mad, developing a plot, major plot points, and a full list of scenes from beginning to end. And that worked, I did pretty well at sitting down every morning and writing for a couple of hours, basically filling in the blanks. The characters did come up with the occasional twist, and I added and deleted some scenes along the way, but chugged along and finished the story two days early, at about 51,000 words.
In December, after finishing that draft, I started reading all sorts of "how-to" books and blogs, all definitely full of great information, but I found that as the months went by I did a lot more reading than re-writing. . Then last August I decided I'd do NaNoWriMo again, and my second book would be a sequel. That meant a big push to tidy up the first one, so that things would at least try to flow together. I added a few notes here and there, and shuffled some of the scenes and plot points to match the latest outline method I was following, storyboarding in a "w" format - explained here by Mary Carroll Moore. Some of the sequencing was off after that, and it still needed a good couple of passes to look at character arcs and dialogue and POV and all the other elements. But it was good enough to build on, so once again I did a plot outline, and some scenes. This time I had big gaps in my story - I figured I'd never get to 50,000. Plus I wasn't as excited about the overall plot, and my head was full of all those rules for characters and settings and dialogue. It was very hard this time to just let go and write, 9-11 - every morning.
So I ended up writing whenever - often 10-12 at night, with loud tunes and red wine and tired eyes. Lo and behold, as I got into the scenes, the characters and events seemed to take on a life of their own, filling in spaces, adding little meanderings. I hit 50,000 a couple of days early, and kept going - the story wasn't done. I figure will be maybe 65,000 words when done this draft.
I'm still working towards The End, but am looking forward to editing this and the previous book, or at least re-reading them. It certainly was a good exercise in focusing - difficult when you're retired. So many things, so little time in the day.