I first heard of NaNoWriMo halfway through November of 2007. I can’t recall exactly how I heard of it; I think I might have been surfing through some blogs on GreatestJournal (the site would tank a month later). At first glance, NaNo seemed like a cool idea. I remember thinking to myself that I should have found out about this a few years ago, probably back in 2005. But since I found out about it halfway through November, I didn’t want to jump into the game late. Plus, I didn’t have any new ideas. I think I was working on “Restless” at the time, and more than likely on some draft of XIII, too.
I forgot about NaNoWriMo until October 25, 2008. I remember that specific date because it was when the character Rachel first came into my head, told me her name, and proceeded to rule my fictional universe. That day, I also came up with the opening scene for ONAN. (That title came from something in a Walt Whitman poem that one of my professors was obsessed with, and Onan is also a biblical character, which fit well with my pet theme.) Needless to say, ONAN (the story) had a lot of sex in it. And I realized a year later that ONAN is “NaNo” spelled backward. Total coincidence, I swear.
After coming up with that idea, I remembered that NaNoWriMo existed. I only had about 6 days or so to plan my story, and I don’t really recall how I planned it. I was just excited because I had a new idea and there was an event that catered to crazy people like me who actually wanted to spend time in front of a keyboard, banging their heads against the desk in times of frustration with stubborn characters and immobile plots.
ONAN was the worst thing I ever wrote. The absolute worst. Every time I read the first draft, I cringe. (I think I say that about every first draft.) But I had fun writing it, I met the 50,000 word count goal, and it let me get that particular idea out of my head. I remember walking to class and coming up with some epic idea that I could put into the story, so as soon as I got into class, I’d start writing something down on scrap paper. It was joyous, and that’s how writing should be.
The point of this whole anecdote is that NaNoWriMo is a lot of fun. You’re not going to write an instant masterpiece, though. On the contrary, what you spit out is going to take a lot of time, patience, and revisions. But if you have a burning story idea, and you keep telling yourself you’re going to write it someday, do yourself a favor and just write it now! NaNoWriMo is just around the corner…