Every year since 1999, thousands of writers around the world decide that a novel isn’t something that should take many months or years to plan and write. It should only take 30 days! And to keep things consistent, they agree that a novel is defined as 50,000 words of fiction, from beginning to end. That’s the premise behind National Novel Writing Month, held every November. While not all of these would-be novelists are successful, they have at least made the attempt to complete a noble and quite possibly insane goal.

I’ve known about NaNoWriMo as far back as 2003, although I’ve never seriously given thought to participating until this year. In previous years I’ve been content to write a little more than usual, focussing on short stories. This year? Well, I’ve finally decided it’s time I threw my hat into the ring and to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time!

Why would I plan to write a novel now? The truth is, my fiction writing efforts have suffered terribly over the past few years with my focus on writing apps in my spare time. I’ve spent well over one thousand hours writing code instead of fiction, and while it has been an enjoyable and sometimes frustrating experience, I’ve been wishing I had the time and energy to devote to my writing on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean I’m not working on more apps in the future. I still plan to update my existing apps and to complete work on Story Tracker for Mac, as well as work on many more apps in the years to come. But for November 2011 I’ve decided I can spare some time out of my busy schedule to work on my first novel.

With November being a day and a half away, you’d think I’d have my novel all planned out, with detailed character studies, a cracking plot, and exotic locales at the ready. Do I? Not yet, but I’m sure it’ll come to me in a hurry. This will truly be a seat-of-the-pants effort.

Will I make it? I have no idea. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified! Writing fifty thousand words in a month implies a daily word count of 1,666 words. This is far in excess of my typical daily word count when I was regularly writing fiction. It’ll be a stretch for sure, but if there’s anything I’ve learned about myself over the past few years, it’s that I’m capable of surprising myself with tremendous bursts of productivity. This’ll be an interesting experiment, if nothing else. I’m curious whether writing a novel in a month will spark an explosion of creativity thereafter.

I’m not sure if I’ll be making many blog posts during the month, so if you’re interested in following my progress, you can check out my NaNoWriMo profile, or follow along on Twitter – I’m @andrewnicolle.

Fifty thousand words, or bust!

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