10 things i learned while doing NaNoWriMo:
1) there are almost no legitimate excuses for not getting your shit done. if i could travel for 7 days and be dead sick for 2.5 and still reach my 30 day goal, then what the hell have i been doing every other month of the year?
2) keeping in mind the idea of a first draft is crucial to the work flow. 'fix it in post' might be bad for film and music, but for me is essential to getting past the critic within that is really good at killing ideas before they even get off the ground.
3) write thru the problems. if you are stuck, it's highly possible that throwing words at the problem might just loosen whatever was keeping it from going forward. if trying something from a different angle or throwing another character into the mix doesn't seem to work, leave it alone for a bit. go write a different part and come back to this scene when you can see further along its trajectory. (corollary: this proves that i am a long-winded bastard, but i'm okay with that. see #2)
4) writing while listening to music is a legitimate distraction and should be avoided unless the scene you are working on has a soundtrack and you need it in your ears to get the right rhythm/tone. also, scenes with soundtracks are awesome, but not appropriate for every story.
5) calling yourself a writer has very little to do with your actual word output, but goddamn, does writing a shit-ton help you believe that the moniker might actually be true.
6) the phrase, "i'm working on a novel" creates a lot more excitement and encouragement and curiosity than cynicism and challenging comments. in fact, none of the latter were addressed to me, as i had feared.
7) writing everyday is like doing yoga for my internal life.
8) spending as much time alone it takes to write at high volumes is not just possible, but becoming preferable. especially cuz it's not alone, per se, it's hanging out with 'people' i love. cuz i made them up.
9) my emotional health is much better when i'm obsessing over fictional people's relationship dramas than my own or my non-fictional people's. (this is a corollary to something i learned last fall: conversations are a lot easier when you control both sides of them.)
10) this is actually how my brain is supposed to work and when i'm not denying that fact and pushing my mind into other ways of functioning, i can do a pretty damned good job of coming up with shit. ie, writing fiction. my mind thrives on story and character and if i'm not feeding it on books and tv and movies all the time it will revert to auto-generation mode and go buck wild. (example: i've had 3 ideas for other novels this month)
extra bonus 11) the secret purpose of NaNoWriMo is to get you to realize you can actually write an average of a more-than-reasonable number of words a day and still (more or less) function in your everyday life. therefore, writing a reasonable number of words (on average) is not only possible, but preferable to writing none. fooling yourself into having a writing practice is the best use of a month and 50,000 words i can think of. (see #7)