I've done it. I've written every day in the last 30 days except one. I've typed out 70,676 words in a month. Even though this is the third time I've done NaNo, 70,000 words by the end of November is a lot for me. This time last year I was at only 53,000. Unfortunately, I'm not done with my novel. In fact, I'm not even close to done. I'm 240 pages into a novel that should be about 300 pages, and I'm going to have to cut a huge chunk to make it fit, because there's a lot left to write.
If my adventure of writing a novel was to be described in Acts, I just finished Act 2 of the journey—completing the quest of writing 50,000 words in 30 days—only to realize the real treasure (the finished manuscript) still lies out of reach at the end of Act 3.
After Act 2 typically comes a happy lull where everyone feels good about what's been accomplished. I'm feeling a post–Act 2 depression. I really should be much farther along. If this novel is going to be about 80,000 to 100,000 words long, I've spent too much time on a beginning and not enough time on action. I feel behind in a race that exists only in my head.
Were I a slightly more seasoned writer, I'd probably go back now and edit down the beginning to streamline the story, but I still worry about the possibility of getting bogged down in "the perfect beginning" and never finishing the novel, as I did for many years with my first book.
So I will push ahead and write the rest of the novel as the first should have been written, with brevity at the forefront of my mind. I'm not a minimalist writer, so forcing myself to think of ways to make the scene progress faster, the action sequences to come more rapidly, the characters to minimize their internal conundrums is difficult for me, but the results (as I've seen with Madison) are well worth it.