In 2011 I forwent joining in, simply because I was in the midst of The White Sail's Shaking - possibly The Running Tide at that point - and couldn't spare the brain power for another story. Therefore I'm a bit out of practice. My writing has slowed - improved, I like to think, but definitely slowed. Writing a thousand words in a day is a highlight. The prospect of churning out exactly 1,667 words every day is, needless to say, a little bit alarming.
There are other reasons as well, having more to do with the story itself than my writing deficiencies. I've already begun Tempus Regina (naughty of me, but I didn't think at the time that I would be doing NaNo) and have had trouble with it, though perhaps no more trouble than the beginnings of stories generally give me. I can't remember: it's been nearly two years since I started my last "book," White Sail's. I don't remember what it was like, so the experience is - pardon the really bad pun - novel. Is this what having children is like? Women say that if they remembered how agonizing their first child was, they wouldn't have any others. Tongue-in-cheek, but I, at least, cry a weary, "Hear! hear!"
On the other hand, nerve-wracking as NaNo seems, it is at once helpful, enjoyable, and surprisingly doable. It helps the author to break the ice - to get to know this new set of characters, to watch the story develop, to be struck all at once with a slew of ideas that might or might not appear in the final draft. Maybe part of that is just the autumn atmosphere; who doesn't feel inspired when Fall rolls around? But it is helpful, too, in that it doesn't give you much time to stop and bemoan future difficulties. You've got a plot (they say it's optional, but I say not) and a goal, and now you've got to make something of them. In a month. So there.
I don't know about other writers' reasons for participating in NaNo, but that is my reason this year. That impetus, that relentless whip-cracking, is just what I need for completing what I find to be the most difficult part of a novel: the beginning. I don't know that I'll necessarily reach 50,000 words, although I have every intention of trying. I don't expect that what I churn out will be earth-shatteringly beautiful - the first 50,000 words of The White Sail's Shaking were absolute and total rubbish. But I think it will help, nonetheless.
NaNo being fun is, I think, pretty self-explanatory, but the "doable" bit is harder to accept. I'm finding it hard to accept. But I know from experience that once you get going, the daily goal starts to seem smaller and smaller. However, several people asked about ways to stay on target and make time for NaNo, so here are a few suggestions.
Not all of us can sit down and have 1,667 words pour through the keyboard onto a document. If you would rather take it in smaller portions, perhaps you could work out a schedule. Sit down three times in a day and write 556 words each time, or twice and write 834. It all works out to the same amount in the end.
use time wisely
This is something my mother used to say frequently, and I think the only reason she stopped is that she knows it's been engrained into our psyche - not that we always do it, but we have her teaching somewhere in our heads at all times. It is never not important to use time wisely, of course; I'll never forget the passage in The Phantom Tollbooth where Tock the Watch Dog is decrying the practice of "killing time." Time is important and ought always to be used well. For NaNo, this might mean getting up earlier or staying up later, or merely rearranging your time table to make writing easier. Procrastination is by no means allowed, if you intend to make the goal.
keep calm and drink tea
The purpose of NaNo is not first and foremost to write 50,000 words. The purpose, according to the founders themselves, is to make people put aside their excuses, get their rear ends in their chairs, and write. If 50,000 words is not possible with your other responsibilities (and I do believe in other responsibilities), do your best simply to write as much as you can. By the end, you'll still have more than you began with. The sun will go on rising and setting whether your progress bar turns purple by November 30 or not.
...Yeah, I have a hard time with that one. I tried to tell myself that in 2010, and everyone else told me. I still fretted and agonized and panicked and crawled my weary way to 50,000 words. My life can't go on if the progress bar doesn't turn purple...!