I did National Novel Writing Month in 2010 and finished the 50,000 words. It showed me I had what it took to write a novel, I just needed to do some homework on things like plot and structure and character development. And Point of View and pretty much writing craft in general.
What's really cool about it is that people all over the world are going through the same writing challenge, and you can find lots of support (and distraction!) on the message forums. Regions have volunteer coordinators, so you might even find writers in your area who are participating. My local region is pretty active. After the fact, I found out they'd had a program the library branch right over by my house. I'm not sure if I'll meet up with anyone face-to-face but it's nice to chat on the local forums.
Over the past month, I've had the best intentions to map out an outline for my next writing project, complete with plot points and story arcs. Doesn't that sound lovely? I'm not sure that will ever work for me. Closest I may get is writing notes and some character outlines. I need to start writing before I can figure every detail of what's happening. Although, I'm reading Jeff Gerke's Plot versus Character now to help me bridge the gap between character and plot development.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Care to share any tips?
Good luck everyone!