[First answers: I'm American, my native language is American English, I've done NaNo in American English, but I plan on doing it in French in the future]
Do you think the language used affects your writing? If so, how?
I believe so. Each language has different aspects to it that make it particularly advantageous or disadvantageous to a frantic novel-writing challenge like NaNo. Take the Romance languages. Nouns begin with an article that indicates gender, so if you're writing a novel in French, you gain a word almost every time you use a regular noun. Also in French, you gain a word every time you use a verb in the past tense, assuming you're using the more traditional passé composé instead of the literary passé simple. That's a word you didn't even have to try for. There was a Wrimo who wrote their NaNo novel in Esperanto one year, and he described writing out sentences in great detail because Esperanto doesn't offer all the same verbiage that English has.
How many times have you participated in NaNoWriMo? How many times have you won?
This year is my ninth year. I've won all eight years so far.
What are your reasons for participating in NaNoWriMo? Have these reasons changed over the time
At first I started doing NaNo because I wanted to prove to myself that I could finish a novel. Before NaNo I couldn't get past chapter three of a book without giving up. Now I can finish and even edit a work. Now my original intent has been completed, so I keep NaNoing because it's so much fun, and the community is unparalleled to others I've found online. NaNo has changed my life and me in so many ways that I could never quit.
Would you recommend/have you recommended NaNo to others? What reasons do you think others would have for participating?
I recommend NaNo to almost everyone I know who hints at an interest in writing and even some who don't. I think others do it because they're interested in writing and want to write that book; writing a book is on quite a few people's bucket lists, after all. One or two people may have done it to get me off their backs, but that doesn't work out too well.
Do you participate in other online community activities related to writing outside NaNoWriMo?
I've done Script Frenzy since its inception in 2007 and participated unofficially in the Three-Day Novel Contest for the first time this year. I also participated in National Novel Editing Month this March and NaNoWriYe in 2003 and 2004 (and maybe 2005? I don't remember).
If so, are any of these NaNo-related (eg. chatting with other NaNo authors about non-NaNo writing projects)?
Not strictly, though NaNoWriYe was composed primarily of NaNo authors, and we wrote new works. Script Frenzy and NaNoEdMo also had a significant NaNo author base. Script Frenzy consisted of writing a new script in a month, and NaNoEdMo consisted of editing a work that wasn't necessarily from NaNo in a month.
Do you participate in the discussions on the NaNoWriMo forums? If so, in what sections (procrastination, plot help, general discussion, dares, etc.)? Why/why not?
I think it's safe to say that I participate in the discussions here, as I'm currently the top poster and have been somewhere near the top for most of my time doing NaNo. It's easier to say where I participate the least: the genre forums, where I lurk as I haven't figured out a genre for my own novel yet; NaNo University, as I'm not a student; the non-20s age group lounges; the military lounge, Virtual Worlds; NaNo Artisans; NaNo Rebels; and the roleplaying forum. I love the community of Wrimos and find myself highly entertained by the posts. Add in the addicting nature of the forums and my current excess of spare time, and you have a recipe for my being everywhere on the site. Fun fact: I'm currently making around 1.5% of the forum posts here. This is about the same percent as last October. Don't worry, this drops as we go into November and everyone starts writing.
Do you participate in other NaNo-related community-type activities (instant messages, chats, IRQ, offsite forums, word wars, write-ins, etc.)? Why/why not?
I chat with quite a few other Wrimos via IM and chats; in fact, I may have up to 10 chat windows open at a time during NaNo season. This is my primary spot for word wars, though I also follow @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter (along with all the official accounts) for word wars. I've also participated in write-ins for my region; this year I'm in a smaller region than I was for the past five years, so we'll see about write-ins. I also run a wiki for Wrimos designed to be a resource and archive of NaNo history and culture.
Have these activities helped your writing? In which ways (motivation, plot/characterization help, writing tips, competition, etc.)? Which of them have you found the most helpful?
I find the community to be a great motivator. Writing is often seen as a lonely hobby, and NaNo reduces that stigma by making it social. While that wasn't the original intent of NaNo, it has worked, and that made NaNo into the wonder that it is today. I do enjoy the competition a bit as well. I have a yearlong standing competition with another Wrimo who beat me on the 30th only because I finished my novel on the 28th of last year. This year she's going down.
Do you write outside November? How much, in relation to NaNoWriMo?
Besides Script Frenzy, NaNoEdMo, and Three-Day Novel, I write blog posts and a paper journal in addition to scraps of fiction. I love the deadline, though, and stuff just doesn't get done without it for me. Multiply NaNo's output times 11 for what I should be writing for the rest of the year, and I write much less than that.
Overall, how does the NaNoWriMo community affect your writing, during November or otherwise?
I've found the community to be wonderful for my writing. Besides the motivation and butt-kicking I can get from my writing, we can bounce ideas off each other and make writing buddies who can motivate each other year-round.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Many of my best friends and folks in my Twitter and LJ circles come from NaNo. I'm not sure whether that says NaNo is a great community, I know too many Wrimos for my own good, or I really need to work on making non-Wrimo friends. If I'm going to make non-Wrimo friends, well... they better be fantastic.