I’ve almost always been a “NaNo Rebel.” My NaNo projects tend to be snippets of other works that I want to continue, or short stories and fanfiction that just get me writing when I find myself staring too long at a blinking cursor on my current w.i.p. document.
Granted, when I first joined NaNoWriMo, I did try to do the “start a whole new novel from scratch” thing and I have gotten some gems from them. Not a whole lot sometimes, no, but pieces of scenes, description, dialogue, even full characters that did much better in other stories than whatever adventure they were on during that November.
While I mostly agree with your post (especially about burn-outs!), it’s through NaNo that I’ve learned how to be a better writer. NaNo has provided me with suggestions of craft books, a writer’s group with some dear friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise known, and tips and tricks from those who start plotting their novels in October. I’ve always believed that these more rebellious goals have been the NaNoWriMo founding team’s dream for their participants.
It’d be fantastic to get a decent first draft of a novel in a month, but NaNo has always been about quantity rather than quality. It’s about learning how to write. It’s about letting yourself go and try new styles, new ideas, figuring out how this whole writing thing works for the writer.
Fifty thousand words in a month for a brand new story is a high goal for anyone, and the founders knew that from the beginning. If a writer can do that, great! But if not, the point of NaNo still stands as long as some words were written during the month. I believe that your wonderful post and NaNoWriMo share the same point — it’s all about the writing energy and the community, no matter how you go about it.