In 2008 I got a crazy idea and decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. Now, until this point I'd only had a vague desire to write a book. I'd always been a writer of sorts, but more of a blogger, journaler, letter writer, and someone who used writing to solve problems. Never a Writer in the way that someone who sits down to write a novel is a Writer.
I also decided to write a YA novel. Why? Who the heck knows. I was teaching high school, and I had been ingesting the Twilight crack. I guess those reasons seemed as good as any. I took a plot element from a song on one of my favorite albums and on November 1st I decided to go to town on it. No outlining, no plotting, no planning. Just by the seat of my pants.
I won NaNo that year. By the end of the month I had about 54,000 words of a dual 1st person POV YA novel about...well, I have no idea what it was about. And it wasn't totally done. But I had something, and I won NaNo, and that was quite a big accomplishment.
Since then I have read over 250 YA novels. I have gone to conferences and started two blogs and met other writers and I have written and written and written.
And I've been working on the same story.
I had to totally trash that NaNo draft. It was horrible. Embarrassingly horrible. But I didn't trash the characters and I didn't trash the story and I rewrote it all from the very beginning. I skipped NaNo '09 and NaNo '10 because I wanted to make this one work. I rewrote it again. I added plots. I cut out a POV. I added and cut and changed characters. I outlined and outlined and wrote and wrote and revised and revised.
Now it's almost time for NaNo '11. Three years since I had my first seed of an idea for this story. Three years since I typed the first word (which is long since cut). Three years and three new starts and I'm finally, FINALLY almost done.
I really want to participate in NaNo '11. I have an idea. I have a partial outline. I will NOT make the Big Mistake of '08, which is wandering up to the keyboard and typing all willy-nilly with no plan. Because that mistake has taken three years to untangle. Three years of learning a TON about my process, that's for sure, but three years just the same.
I'm excited for NaNo '11, and I'm excited to take everything I have learned since NaNo '08 and hopefully come out of it with a working draft that I don't have to completely overhaul. And even if it is a hot mess, well, I'm sure November will be a fun month anyway.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo '11? Do you have anything planned out? Or are you just pantsing it?