As a disclaimer, yes I do understand the light-hearted spirit in which the NaNoWriMo is supposed to be taken. I still think it's a farce, and way too many people take it rather seriously. Myself included.
No, I'm not entering the damn thing. Done that before, WAAAAY too much self-imposed stress. Last time I felt like I was going to have a heart attack coming into week 3, and I ended up calling it quits two days after that. It was good though, I wrote a lot of nonsense that was in no way "Novel" quality. Even with a well laid out plot, characters, climax, ending, etc. etc.. I just got so hung up in getting every 2000 word block in, that by the time I had finished a block for a day I'd leave it sitting. Horrible way to do things.
Sometimes you just have to write what comes to you until you're all done with the writing. 2000 word block be-damned, if you squirt out 500 or 5000, the only real goal you're aiming for is the final result. A NOVEL.
I think the first NaNoWriMo I took part in was an assignment for my Creative Writing class in my junior year of high school. NaNoWriMo was relatively new back then, but my teacher at the time was a crazy new-age hippy stuck in the 70's and teaching in the year 2000. I loved that woman with all my heart. Anyway, she gave us the option of doing the normal curriculum, 5 pages a week on 10 short stories OR do the NaNoWriMo. Finish the NaNoWriMo and you get an automatic A for the first half of the year, AND since it was the first class of the day, you didn't even have to show up. The choice was obvious for me.
I didn't really think I would enjoy it so much, but that extra hour of sleep every day seemed well worth it.
I finished the word count requirement a week early, but I was told to just keep going (since the story wasn't finished) until the end of the month. This was the best time to write, and it REALLY showed. The first 40 pages or so were so screwy, lumped together, non-flowing pieces of garbage, when compared to the rest of the work. Without a deadline I was relaxed and interested in my own work. This is my key to writing a good story that I've never let go of.
When you start telling yourself "This NEEDS to be done", you get rushed and lose the feeling of excitement when you introduce your characters to the next plot twist. You take them through the motions, the planned reactions are drawn, the conflict ends. It loses a lot of power when you speed through it. The better rush is really getting into your work, living vicariously through your fingertips. Taking the role and playing it (see wot I did thar?), like you were in the characters shoes. When your own words can draw you into the story and make you feel like you're there, then you're doing it right. When you fly across a set number, it's easy to lose sight of that goal.
Write a story that pulls you in, and it'll pull in your reader as well. Write a story that has 2000 words a day, and well, it'll feel like you wrote 2000 words a day.
Now, since we're on the topic of the NaNoWriMo, I might as well go over what it means to me each year as it is. It's a launching board. I guess in a way I do participate to a degree. It's a time for me to start a new project and devote the full month to it's completion. Last year was a long draw out campaign plot for the DnD game that I run. It still hasn't fully run it's course, but we're working on it. I was hoping to do the same thing this year, instead I'll be writing my standard fantasy fare.
It MAY get posted on the blog, eventually, in chapters, when it's finished (if I love it). I'm one of those greedy writers, keeping things to myself to continue a story, perfect it, transform it, or just lose it to horrible formatting issues that eats hard drives (Curses! Backups ARE important!). This all being said, I'm quite fond of the NaNoWriMo. Perhaps not the end goals themselves, but for the sake that people WILL be writing. Sometimes it'll be for the first time. Others for the umpteenth. Forcing yourself through a load of work leaves all kinds of insights when you reach the end. For most, it's a feeling of accomplishment. For myself, it was a loathing distaste for it.
I hope whatever you gain from it, it's worth the ride. It certainly was for me.
Good luck to all you NaNoWriMo writers out in the blogosphere. Take it easy, and have fun!