I’ve been participating in National Novel Writing Month since 2007. As a freshman in high school, my very first novel rode the heels of the Twilight craze and was a very convoluted paranormal romance in a town populated by billionaires. It involved genetically engineered humans and artificial wombs, a slightly incestuous romance, and also this strange scene where the main character and her love interest go to a Taco Bell for wealthy people, complete with silver platters and black tie waiters. I hit 50,000 words (and some of that was hastily copy-and-pasted song lyrics in a last-minute karaoke scene written on November 30th) but I never actually wrote an ending, so God knows where that story was actually going. But it was that year that I realized that I might actually be able to pull off this writer thing (still working on that part).

The point is, NaNoWriMo is my favorite time of year. Not only does it distract me from the pre-Christmas psychosis that seems to obsess everyone else, but I can lose myself in a new totally random and whacked out writing creation with absolutely to obligation to making it “good.” Plus, I happen to live in a super active NaNo Region, meaning I have the chance to get together with other crazy writers and have a damn good time. We do some awesome activities, like writing on the train or writing in IKEA or taking over half a Panera Bread. Some of these people have become year-long writing partners and very good friends.

This year, I originally planned on continuing a current WIP. It’s a YA fantasy novel and I’ve been working on it for about two years now. This is the third rewrite, but this is the draft that feels like it’s working. At the same time it makes me feel super bogged down. I’m too invested, it’s too overthought, and I know I won’t be able to enjoy the freedom that NaNo usually encourages if I try to write 50,000 words of that in-progress novel.

Instead, I’m doing something different. Something new! And just the thought of letting go of this current novel, even just for a month, is ridiculously refreshing. This new idea I have is going to be a fun adventure story, and it’s not going to be as doom-and-gloom as the YA I was writing. Plus, it’s a middle grade, so there’s no icky romance in it! (Ew, boys! Gross!). I made it a middle grade for a few reasons. One, I really want to focus in on themes of self-discovery. Two, I just really don’t feel like writing about romance or sexual tension or anything like that. And three, I feel like a middle grade novel can actually be written to completion in 50,000 words, and I want this to be a self-contained drafting project. I want to write THE END as words 49,999 and 50,000. I want to have a complete zero draft on November 30th, not just three-quarters of one.

NaNoWriMo starts in two days! Will you be participating?