Lifehacker Takes On The NaNoWriMo Challenge

The arrival of November signals National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), a project which challenges participants to write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words in a month. This year, Lifehacker will be taking part. Here’s why.

Leaving aside my penchant for slightly over the top projects which run for extended periods of time, I really need to get a book written. When I became a freelance writer back at the end of 2000, one of my main ambitions was to actually produce a book-length work. Since then, I’ve written proposals and done research for perhaps a dozen non-fiction works and a similar number of novels, but I’ve always ended up getting side-tracked into day-to-day writing work for magazines and sites. Having a fixed deadline will force me to actually finish something.

I also figure that trying to do this will cover off a bunch of themes which get written about here on Lifehacker pretty regularly:

  • how to organise your life so you can take on big projects and meet major deadlines;
  • tools and techniques for overcoming procrastination and writer’s block;
  • useful software for distraction-free writing;
  • using portable technology to get work done on the road.

I come to the project with an obvious advantage. I write for a living, so the thought of producing at least 1,700 words a day doesn’t scare me particularly. On the other hand, I still have to keep writing for my day job, and I’ve had much more practice at non-fiction than fiction. The last time I wrote a novel-length piece of fiction was in high school, and that particular piece of teen angst crap would need a hell of a lot of rewriting to be tolerable to anyone else. (Which is not what I’m doing for NaNoWriMo, BTW; the project requires something new started from scratch.)

I’ll be running brief posts three times a week detailing my progress, the tools I’m using and the lessons I’ve learnt. Having to do that in public will, I hope, ensure I’m one of the 20% or so of participants who actually reach the goal. (Last year, 165,000 people signed up and 30,000 reached the goal). As an added incentive, my brother (who’s already well-known to many readers around here) is also taking on NaNoWriMo, so there’ll be a useful element of sibling rivalry to egg me on.

So come Monday, the novel-writing begins, along with the writing about it. First order of the day (and something I can do before the start date kicks in) will be setting up a dedicated writing machine. Hints, suggestions and critiques are, as ever, welcome in the comments.

Have you subscribed to Lifehacker Australia's email newsletter? You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Trending Stories Right Now