No, I am not participating this year, but a fellow in the local Facebook community asked this question a little bit ago: “How does NaNoWriMo fit into your larger writing goals? Do you have any?”
A great question that has been on my mind recently. It's been a couple years since I participated in any real way in NaNoWriMo, and watching everyone ramping up in October got the bug going in me again, I had a blast in 2012! Unfortunately, while I "won" in 2012, I failed to finish my book, which has seen little progress since due to family needs and a shift in focus artistically towards photography and filmmaking.
Last year, my failed attempt at NaNoWriMo was designed to get me back into the habit of writing regularly. 50K was not even close to my personal goal, but doing a creative writing activity (writing, editing, plotting, cooking-up...) at least 5 days a week was my goal. A few weeks into 2013, though, I concluded that I just had too much on my plate, researching and writing a non-fiction book and documentary and on-going family issues being my main distractions, and that my novel would just have to be on hold for a while longer.
Another year passes... Continued work with the family, stumbling but consistent work on the non-fiction book and movie, a ton of time spent attempting to launch a photography / cinematography business...
And now it's NaNo 2014!
I had no illusions that 2014 would fit into my current schedule, but it has led me to think a lot about creative writing again. I still have 2/3 of a draft of a novel that I love. I've got two follow up novels gelling up in my head, one of which has been evolving through various incarnations since I was 17, and I miss writing, a lot!
As my photography and video "hobbies" have transformed into work, I also find myself craving another creative outlet to pursue in my "spare time," filling the role that photography used to fill before it became more of a vocation than a hobby. Writing is bubbling up to the top.
So my main writing goal right now is pretty simple. Start writing again! I am in the process of stripping down my life a bit, simplifying, and finding some time to make this happen. I've got to clear a few small film jobs first, but then it will be time to get back into creative writing.
As for the role of NaNoWriMo, it has been crucial. Even the last two years when I did not participate, it has led me to evaluate the role of creative writing in my life in a very meaningful way, and, at the very least, it reminds me that I am a writer!
Next year, I'd like to use November to kickstart my next novel, which depends on me finishing the first draft of the current one first, since it is a sort of sequel. So there's some timelines and goals that come directly from NaNoWriMo, regardless if I decided to go all out for 50K next year or not.
And this is the sort of long term role I can see November filling in my life. And I may, depending on what is going on earlier next year, utilize the Camps to motivate me through a second draft, or even to launch the 2nd book a little earlier, depending on where I am at the time.
I wish that NaNoWriMo came in December this year, since I probably will be writing more by then, but even if I am not an active participant, it is still huge and helps me out a lot, reminding me that books don't write themselves and that one of these days I've got to sit down and put the work in to make these stories come alive.