1. 50,000 words does not create a novel.
To be fair, most novels clock in around 80K-100K, so really, 50,000 is more of a novella. But aside from that, a novel isn't just typing up those words. In preparation of NaNoWriMo, I spent a lot of hours figuring out what I wanted to write, plotting it out, figuring out where it would go, and gaining inspiration for the story. Maybe October should be called OctoPlotMo or something, because I basically took the entire month of October to flesh out the idea so I wouldn't have to figure out where I wanted the book to go when I really just needed to type.
2. Preparation doesn't guarantee anything.
Yes, I prepared, and plotted and outlined and all that stuff. I was excited about my idea, and I couldn't wait to write it. And then, somewhere around 3,000 words or so, my brain started to slow down. It got rough. I mean really rough. I was so over it, and I kept thinking about the book I put down (temporarily) to start on this one. I wanted to write the other damn book! (I guess it really is true, about the grass and whatnot.) I couldn't stop thinking about the other book. All that preparation and excitement and I found myself slogging through a book that I didn't want to write. Surprise, surprise.
3. Taking time is okay.
I don't know that I will participate in NaNoWriMo again next year. The first time I did it, it ended up being my first novel, and that was exciting. I had no idea what I was doing (I still don't, for the record), and I was just trying to have fun. But now, I want to get better. I want to have better ideas and massage them and fix them when they are broken. And that's tough to do when you're just writing words as fast as you can. Sure, I made it to the word count, but I knew that something was wrong in the first 10,000 words. Something was off in the plot; there wasn't enough conflict, people were gettting along too well, and the main character didn't seem to have any real flaws, other than just being a bit naive. My book was broken. But there was no time to fix it, since I had to keep writing. Now I'm 50,000 words in, and I KNOW the book is broken, because I couldn't right the ship without changing the outline dramatically, cutting things out, adding new things, and shifting perspectives. This book is not a lost cause. It just needs more time to cook. That's okay.
4. I'm an extroverted introvert. Or interoverted extrovert. Whatever.
One of the things I love about NaNoWriMo is the sense of community in knowing that there are thousands upon thousands of people doing the exact same thing you are. It's thrilling, and makes me feel like I have allies. But the thing is, I don't bother to reach out to any of them. How lame is that? There are forums, and get togethers, and all sorts of groups of people who are connecting throughout the month, and I just sit and read that there will be a gathering of writers, and go "Huh, I wish I could go to that." True, most of them are not at times and places that I can attend. But still. I do have a desire to be a part of the community and learn about other writers and maybe even (gasp!) meet them. But something tells me NaNoWriMo isn't what's going to get me there, unfortunately.