I have written approximately 250 words, by hand, for NaNoWriMo this year. And while it is possible that I still might catch up—my expected word count should be around 15,000 words at the end of the day—it's looking pretty hopeless at this point.
My excuse is that life got in the way. An unexpectedly complicated bathroom repair (somehow a leaky faucet and vanity replacement evolved into a big renovation because of rotten floorboards, which has required multiple trips to hardware and paint stores), as well as paid work took a big chunk of my time. But I was busy last year and still managed to pull it off. The last straw/nail in the coffin, etc., was that I caught a bad respiratory virus last Tuesday, the first day of the contest, which has sapped most of my energy.
Of course a contest that starts on November 1st (for which there is no prize and no consequence) is arbitrary anyway. Why not November 15th? or January 1st? I could set my own deadline and start a new novel, for fun, at any time. Yet it's harder to get excited about me-set deadlines. By myself, I am not part of a broad community—there is no peer pressure, no one to share my triumphs with.
And there is something magical about pulling a novel out of thin air, which is what NaNoWriMo represents for me. Last year I had to keep writing because I wanted to meet the goal I had publicly set even though I didn't always feel a need to write about the things I was writing about. The result was a children's novel I wouldn't probably have otherwise written. This year, I have a new bathtub and bathroom vanity to account for half of that time. I'm not sure which will prove longer lasting.