I worked steadily for 23 days, writing 1700 words or so per day until I reached 41500 words. Then I came up with the mad plan to write 7500 words in a single day. It worked - and because I only had 900 to go by 10pm I knocked them off as well. Hasta la vista, Nano.
I should point out that I write fiction via an internal editor. I don't splash down grammatically incorrect repetitious nonsense and hope to clean it up later: I write as if my draft were to be published as-is.
On the other hand, my major plot ideas come after I've written the bulk of the book. I like to write in scenes, and I like to string together scenes for each viewpoint character. What I mean is, I'll keep writing about one character and just fling in notes about what the other characters are doing in the meantime. When I run out of inspiration I just write one of the other characters' streams. What happens is that one stream will influence another, and then I have fresh ideas to carry those along.
Tying them up at the end is the fun part.
For example, Hal 4 features three or four subplots and I had no idea where there were all going or how they were linked. I was happy to just mine each one, writing along with the knowledge that weaving the threads could come later. Now, after several days of reflection, I've come up with what I think is a killer plot which neatly joins the bits together. The trick now is to re-read and edit the threads so that each has clues & references to the others and to the overall plot. You can't know all this stuff before you begin writing, believe me, and I think many first-time authors fall at this hurdle. Staring at a blank page and hoping to come up with a knock-out plot isn't the way to do it.
When you read a book there's no knowing which bits the author thought of up front, and which were cunningly inserted in a later draft. A novice writer might read a novel and wonder how the author come up with all these twists and turns. Well, they probably didn't. They just wrote and wrote until they had a messy first draft, then kept only the bits which followed the plot they ended up with, and wrote other bits to bridge the gaps.
Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)