Errol's doing NaNoWriMo, of course. I won't be participating in NaNo this year except as a NaNoRebel. If I had finished my outline for my novel, I would be so doing NaNoWriMo. And I -have- done NaNo without an outline before.
This year, however, I just have too much going on and also will be away for a chunk of November.
In the past, I've found NaNoWriMo a great motivational challenge in terms of getting me writing. Nowadays, though, I find I already HAVE that motivation -- my main challenge is more efficient time management. I still believe that NaNoWriMo can be a fun and useful event for aspiring writers as well as experienced writers, given the right mindset and situation.
For aspiring writers, NaNoWriMo can be a much-needed motivational kick in the pants, and a chance to prove themselves that they can write a novel-length manuscript. I've heard several pro writers who say that NaNo helped get them to finish their first novel. The key, I think, is to remember that the 50,000 words you write in November is a FIRST DRAFT. Don't make the mistake of thinking you've written a finished manuscript and DO NOT immediately send it off to agents and editors.
You will be doing yourself a great disservice by sending out a mss that you have bashed out in 30 days for the following reasons:
1. Your novel is not nearly polished enough for submission, no matter how pumped up you are about finishing it.
2. Editors and agents are likely already being inundated with naive NaNoNewbie novel submissions in the months just after NaNoWriMo.
3. If you are an unpublished writer sending out your first draft of a NaNoWriMo novel, there is a 99.99% chance (ok, I can't prove that but I still am confident that my stats are accurate) that you will be rejected.
My advice for NaNoNewbies who are writing their novels with hopes of eventual publication: let your novel sit for at least a few weeks before looking at it again. Then start proofreading, editing, polishing. Work on your craft. Study the industry. DO THE WORK.
For more experienced writers who like online communities, NaNoWriMo can be a fun way to work on your first draft of a novel that you've done prep for: an outline, character studies, etc. Why fun? Because you can commiserate with other NaNoWriMo participants as you're writing. The atmosphere can be compared to writing to a deadline in the same room as other writers working to a deadline.
You could also share your writing tips with other NaNotypes on your blog -- this will not only attract traffic this year but add permanent search-friendly content to your site. In 2011, there were over 250,000 NaNoWriMo participants and chances are excellent that numbers will go up this year.
But in the end, NaNoWriMo is not for everyone.
I've seen a number of posts out there from pro writers who bitterly rail against the event, saying it's a waste of time. I believe that NaNoWriMo can be fun and useful for writers of all levels of experience, but it depends on each individual's mindset and motivation.
And if NaNoWriMo isn't your cup of tea or you don't need these kinds of motivational challenges to write, that's fine. Cheer on other writers and then go back to your work. :-)
If you'd like an ongoing writing challenge but don't have the time for NaNoWriMo, you could try my 250, 500 and 1000 Words/Day Challenge.
And speaking of NaNoWriMo, the first episode of the 6-part Web series NANOMUSICAL is now online! You can see me as a dancing extra (yes, I said dancing) in this episode, too: