I think a lot of it was just that when I first started doing NaNoWriMo, I didn't have nearly as many creative outlets as I do now, and so it became very important to me to achieve the goal of 50,000 words. And at the time, it was exactly the kind of creative kick in the pants I was needing. And now I regularly give MYSELF creative kicks in the pants, so to speak. I don't need the structure as much anymore, but NaNoWriMo is a large part of why setting creative goals for myself is a part of my life, and succeeding a couple of times definitely gave me more confidence that I could rise to a challenge like this. And while I enjoy being a storyteller, I am starting to realize the format of a novel just may not be my jam.
People will often express reluctance to participate in NaNoWriMo because they are really busy and don't think there is any possible way they can write 50,000 words in 30 days. And they may be right about that. But my response is that they have nothing to lose by trying, and jokingly tell them that "nobody is going to take away your birthday!" if you try and don't succeed. I will now be able to affirm that as truth when spring hits and my birthday rolls around. Also, I point out that even if they try and don't make it, they will probably write more than they would have otherwise, and this held true for me. Even if I don't aspire to be a published novelist, exercising those writing muscles is never a bad thing for any type of artist. Writing and creating and thinking, thinking and creating and writing - they are so very intertwined.
This year, I just had a lot of FUN when I was writing, and that ain't no bad thing. And hey, I have 11,000 words of a story that still has places to go. (And I'm sure two of my characters would be quite happy if I could figure out what to do with the hippopotamus currently in their living room. So I will probably keep writing if for no other reason than to figure out what, exactly, it is doing there.)
So, if you've ever declined to take on a creative challenge like NaNoWriMo just because you are afraid you *might* fail? Well, failing is not the end of the world. So...do it anyway. I dare you.
*For the uninitiated. NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge in which you attempt to write a 50,000 word novel (or more precisely, the first draft of one) in 30 days. There's a website with forums and local get togethers - it's a lot of fun and I encourage everybody to try it at least once.