This is my third year participating in NaNoWriMo*, and I've found it to be a good tool as long as that's all you use it as--a tool. My first year it was an obsession. I had to finish. I. Just. Had. To. And I did, and what I finished was a horrible novel that was unsalvageable, although I did spend several months trying. Last year I began anew, only that time I ruled NaNo; I didn't let it rule me. I wrote, yes, and I wrote more often, but I wrote words that mattered, words I could use. The result of that was Blackbird, probably my favorite of all my books. But even with that success I wasn't going to do NaNo this year. I was already 23,000 words into my current WIP, and didn't want to put it aside to start something else. After some thought I realized I didn't have to. All I needed was 50,000 words written in one month, right? So did it matter where I started? I figured it didn't, so start I did. My current work is at 38,000 (or 15,000 NaNo words), which puts me a little behind, but I don't care. I love it--and in the end that's all that matters.
Any one else out there participating in NaNo? What has your experience been?
*For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, NaNoWriMo stands for National November Writing Month where those craziest among us try to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. You can find out more at http://www.nanowrimo.org