I've surprised myself. I'm up to 21,000 words and still going with NaNoWriMo. I'm not even sure how! Maybe because this is a book that has been in my head for 2 years, and I'd already had one disastrous attempt at it in another form. I can sense that, as I write, I am padding enormously. Putting in heaps of description and character stuff - thoughts, dialogue, emotional reactions - that might well come out later or be trimmed. But isn't that the whole point of NaNo?
It is for me. It's the chance to break new ground, to get stuck into a whole new project or even (although I know it's kind of cheating) to finish that book-of-the-heart that you've never been able to before. About three years ago I used NaNo to rewrite a novel I've been working on for about 9 years. I didn't look at the old draft at all. I sat down and started it as if it was completely new. Lots of stuff came out that ultimately was really useful. That book is now on its way to being published. No, it's not a NaNo book as such, but NaNo helped me get a whole new perspective on what it could be.
I'm about to head off to Hong Kong. I have (by my calculations) about five days in which to write as many words as I can. After that, teaching and consultations take over and I am so brain-dead that writing is almost impossible. But I will keep trying. If I can get past 35,000 by Monday night next week, I might have a hope of snatching time and head space to finish the big 50.
Often that is what NaNo becomes - a frantic search for the cracks in your life. The 15 minutes or half an hour in which you can madly type (like I did in my lunch hour the other day), or that hour before bed when you firmly turn off the TV and write. If nothing else, I think NaNo teaches you that you can write anywhere, any time, if you really want to!