It is a state, with boundaries and everything. To whit: the end result of this years nanowrimo escapades was a very mixed bag. The Second Theft was fun to write but the ending failed entirely and in the same way the first idea of this story did back in 2004. On the other hand, the story was a lot more solid and the characters worked a lot better. I doubt I will ever go back to it, but I should have plotted better than I did.
I plotted ~8 chapters, with some end-points. Had I plotted more in terms of story/character arc, I would have realized that if you give someone the magic to wish things to happen the chances that anyone will be able to imprison them to stand trial for crimes is a bit difficult. I got a lot out of penance and the desire to be punished, but if I'd been plotting better Jake's growth in his magic would have been a lot slower and him being forced to rely on the myth of his previous time in the world to bluff people. Or done the entire novel from Thomas's pov.
On the other hand, it was a good sign that pantsing a novel can't work for me at all. As was Ghoulish Happenings which literally began with 1 page summing up all the characters and the plot. As a result, I lost the MCs voice often and ended the novel realizing that the setting needed a drastic overhaul and the final third of it wouldn't remotely be in the next draft. But hey: one writes, one learns. One gets better. I use nanowrimo not to make 'I will publish this!' novels as much as framework-drafts and notes to myself on things not to do and do better next time.
For example: I am working on the second version of GH now. 6K words. 4.5 is setting and character and notes on magic, 1.5 is 3 pages of plots. 20 points, story plotted out. I've moved several points, know the person the novel is meant 'for' in-world, i.e. it's a letter Wray is writing to his sister, or more likely a series of letters never sent. And knowing that should keep the voice more solid. A lot of the story worked. I had a few awesome moments.
We shall see what the next version brings....