I tried completing Nano for 6 years until I finally cracked the formula of finishing 50,000 words in a month. For me the process is about getting words down, figuring out my storyline and characters, and having some rough scenes in progress to work on for later. Once I cracked the secret to Nano I took it on in a private challenge and wrote a few more manuscripts and firmly cemented that this the process that works for me to finish a book. I will confidently state that there is only perhaps 1 % of my manuscript that is not edited in some way, which probably comes to a sentence or two. As Anne Gracie said "first comes the draft, and then the craft."
The last project that I used this process on was Hollywood Dreams. However I found that I had to re-write nearly the whole book because I veered too far off course. One of the plot twists I developed was that my heroine, Maree, thought that Tom was gay and he played along with it. While it was a lot of fun to write, it did not work in a book as that's a dastardly act that there's just no coming back from.
So this time around I've done some plotting and thinking before I came to the book. Two resources that I find invaluable during this process is Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel workbook. Save the Cat helps me to think about my novel thematically and have a rough idea of structure, while The Breakout Novel's most helpful exercise is combining roles of secondary characters which has already led to some delicious plot details.
So I have committed to Nano this month in order to finish my third novel. I've had a bit of difficulty getting words down. I started a new job this year and the demands of full time work in a new profession has tested my stamina. I have written about 10,000 words already, so I'm technically not meeting the Nano challenge correctly as I'm not working on a book that I haven't started, but I'm just using it as a tool to get my motivation going. I find that signing up officially on the website, entering the daily wordcount and receiving emails reminding you where you should be, really help to put pressure and meet the commitment.
I am also going to be blogging about the process so that all this public commitment gives me a kick up the pants. I'm going to set a modest goal of $20,000 words this month just so I don't feel like a rotten failure.
Today's wordcount was 2,313 words. I'm really struggling with getting back into the headspace of the book and the scene I was working on is not really flowing. I've got my characters on their first date, but the sparks aren't really flying. It's been months since I worked on this book so it's just a matter of persisting and getting the characters come to life. I'm also wanting to get a lot of words down while I've got an (almost) long weekend (I have to work on Monday), so that when there are days when I can't write I won't fall too far behind.