I have climbed the mountain. And won.
I finished my middle grade novel, a sequel to a previous NaNoWriMo project. 50,066 words. In late afternoon on the 30th of November. Was it a smooth ride? Heck no. But here's what I took away:
1- I digressed from my outline. The characters refused to comply with my wishes and led me down a different path. Obviously they knew the story better than I did, so I followed their lead. Good thing!
2- Even though we ventured on the path not (originally) chosen, we finished up in the same place. The ending was almost exactly like my outline, just a little more twisty.
3- It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, even with holidays, family and church obligations, author events and traveling, and plain housework. Someone told me, "You could do NaNo every month." If I'm inspired by a book, I probably could. Not that I'd want to. I'm taking December a little easier.
4- It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I'd planned on doubling up on the word count for several days so I could spend days prepping for Thanksgiving, enjoying Thanksgiving, and for days on the road at events. Somehow I ended up busting my butt on several days to catch up. After the first week, I was always behind. Nothing like a little motivation.
5- I'll continue to do NaNoWriMo. I may not finish (I actually didn't one year!), but I find it a good exercise in writing madly. When I get a deadline, I know how to handle the pressure, how to prioritize, and how to push forward through seemingly unpassable obstacles.
Now it's December and while I'm not writing as much, I'm still doing blog posts, marketing, and querying. I won't start revisions on this project until January, when I'm snowed in, the house is quiet and bare of decorations, and I can focus on all the ugly that lurks in the manuscript.
If you didn't finish by November 30th, that doesn't mean you can't finish it by the end of the year, so keep plugging along and we'll talk about revisions in January.