Well, I did it. I wrote 50,000 words of a novel in November. Along with hundreds of thousands of other people--from those who have never written fiction before to professionals who've published a half-dozen successful novels. The idea is to write write write without self-editing as you go. I attempted NaNoWriMo last year and got just past half way. I had an idea but it wasn't real well-formed and the free-writing strategy just wasn't for me; the story completely ran out of steam. At some point I'd like to go back and work on that story, but we'll see. Maybe next year. For 2015, I started outlining my NaNo novel in June. I formed an idea and had it mapped out to a pretty fine level of detail. Then on November 1 I started filling in the blanks. And it worked! I still have more of my story to write. I like my story. Some of the writing is just awful, but that's OK. I wrote FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS.
Will I finish writing this first draft? Yes. Will I pitch it to a publisher? Who knows. It would need a LOT of editing before that happened. But I learned a lot. And right now I feel like one of the most important things I've learned is that I *do* have time in my day to work on things that are important to me. My estimate is that those 1,667 words took about two-three hours of my time each day. If I can squeeze that writing in among my regular daily activities (which include sharing home-management and toddler-wrangling duties with my husband), I can devote time to a lot of other things I've been wanting to work on. I can keep working on my novel or other fiction projects, AND spend 10 minutes learning some Spanish AND take 15 minutes a day to practice the piano AND work on my hiking book. The arbitrary 50k goal and, in no small measure, the peer pressure from people in my writing group, made me buck up and put aside my excuses about how I "don't have time" for this or that. Clearly I do. I can't wait to see what I end up accomplishing with it.