I think I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels and trying to write the perfect first draft when I started The Garden. I ended up horribly frustrated.
My newest work is a secret project right now. I've started with a much stronger synopsis for this novel. I'm learning my own faults and writing habits. Everyone else can pants-it, but I realize I've got to have the story nailed from the get-go. For my synopsis, I write a very loose idea of what I want (characters, setting, story), then I go back and draw out the actual protagonist and his or her story. I keep the synopsis between one to two pages (one page for a sequel where the world-building is already done, two pages for a brand new world).
I became excited about this particular story when I read it to my crit group and got a chorus of sighs and smiles when I finished. Being able to feel your audience's reactions as you read is amazing. It's an experience that I've missed over the years.
They had a lot of suggestions as to how I could make the synopsis clearer and they were brutal in telling me where I went wrong--loves me a brutal crit group, I do.
I'm at 1600 words with a short first chapter. We'll meet again after ChiCon 7, so I look forward to polishing it a bit, but I'm not stressing over making it perfect yet. For now, I want to keep going with the story.