You may start with an idea, an outline, and lots of research, but you must not have started the actual writing.
So how many words of fiction have I written this November? Slightly more than zero. Everyone around me is madly dashing off the daily word count, and I am sitting on my thumbs.
Writers block? Not exactly. There are at least two months every year that I don't write any fiction. Or engage in any creative projects. I read a lot and try to catch up on research. Usually they are the summer months, but not this year.
I haven't pushed myself except for one project, my Holiday Story which I have been laboring over for a few weeks. I usually start the writing in August, but this year it was October. The reason I usually start so early is that formatting the thing takes about twice as long as writing it. It is now done and formatted. Next is the cover. Still up in the air about that. The formatting and cover design don't count.
I do have a novel in process, and I have been poking about at it for a couple of months, mostly organizing, not much writing. Every year Nano encourages me to get working on it again. This year I have been plowing through the scenes and trying to get them in some kind of order that makes sense.
I write primarily short stories and that won't do for Nano. Writing 50,000 words in short stories is way harder than writing the same amount on a novel. My stories average 3500 words so that would be 14 stories, one every two days. Each has to be plotted, be populated by a cast of characters, and a setting realized. Like a novel each has to have a beginning middle and end, each a crime and a solution. I average about 6 stories a year, so that is half of a Nano submission.
Those brave writers to take part in Nano spend the better part of October setting up to begin writing, and at the end of the month, if they finish, they have a 50,000 word piece of fiction. But they are nowhere near finished. If the word count took them through the whole plot, they now have a first draft. That's as far as many writers get. The hard work starts again when they begin to rework the draft.
Nano teaches a writer to turn off the censor in the brain and keep putting those words on paper.
Nano teaches a writer to finish a draft.
Nano teaches a writer how he or she best works, outlining or writing off the top of the head. Writers are either plotters or pantsers. Me, I'm a pantser, writing by the seat of my pants.
Many a fine published writer was forged in the fire of Nano.
Many would be writers give up after the intense month of work.