As I’ve shared previously, one of my goals for this year is to write a novel. I’ve never done that before. It’s been a stretch goal of mine for a long time, and I’ve decided the time has come to finally do it.

To move this goal forward in a more concrete way, I signed up for NaNoWriMo on Friday. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it happens every year in the month of November. I’ve been aware of it for years, but this is the first time I’ve ever signed up for it.

If you have a NaNoWriMo account, feel free to add me to your buddy list. Here’s my NaNoWriMo profile, but I think you’ll need to be logged in there to see it. My account is Steve Pavlina, so it should be easy to find me there.

NaNoWriMo is both an annual online event and a non-profit organization. It started in 1999 with 21 people, and now hundreds of thousands of people participate each year. It’s entirely Internet-based, so you can participate from home. It’s also free if you want it to be, although they encourage donations. If you made a donation, they add a halo to your profile pic – cute!

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to help you write the first draft of a novel. The stated goal is to write at least 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. That can be an ugly first draft, and you don’t even have to finish the whole book.

There’s a lot of social support in NaNoWriMo as well. This includes an active community forum, recorded pep talks, and lots more. In fact, right after I post this, I’m going to hop on a two-hour call from my local NaNoWriMo chapter, which is hosting an online event to help members get started.

Why Write a Novel?

I’m already a published author, so that part won’t be new to me. My book Personal Development for Smart People was published by Hay House in 2008. Since I uncopyrighted my blog posts in 2010 as well, many more books have been published under my name – at least 150 of them last time I counted.

I can say that it was a special experience to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelf many years ago. That does feel awesome. But since I’ve already had that experience, this isn’t a significant part of my motivation for writing fiction.

My motivation for writing a novel isn’t about the book aspect but rather the fiction aspect. I’m really curious about what it will be like to create a work of fiction.

I’m especially motivated by exploration and growth, and I love a good challenge. It seems like this would be a wonderful way to explore writing from a fresh perspective.

I don’t already have a story in mind. I don’t even know what genre I’d pick yet. Rachelle says I should write a sci-fi book, and that does have some appeal, but right now I still feel very open to the possibility space. I feel more interested in co-creating a novel with reality, much like the attitude I use with blogging.

I’m used to writing from inspiration, and I know how to do that whenever I want. This works for shorter pieces like blog posts and videos, and it also works for creating extensive courses. Reality always has my back when it comes to opening the floodgates of inspired ideas to share.

Since I already have a wonderful creative relationship with reality on the nonfiction side, I want to see if I can stretch this relationship to include fiction as well. Will it be radically different if I have to think about characters and settings and plot?

I do feel confident that I could write the first draft of a novel with a pantser approach – just write from start to finish without pre-planning – but it might be pretty bad. Then again, maybe this approach is good enough for a first draft.

Writing 50K words in a month doesn’t seem daunting to me. It actually sounds like fun. If I squeeze myself to write a novel in a month, what will come out? I don’t know.

Will it be something cerebral? Personally meaningful? Humorous? Slutty? All of those? I can’t say. Nothing has been decided yet.

Since I’ve never written a novel before, the pantser approach does appeal to me, at least for the first time, if only because I haven’t learned a more structured approach yet. It might be nice just to see what comes out of me by writing from inspiration. Maybe that adds up to a sucky story that’s painful to read, but maybe it generates enough good ideas that I could edit it into something semi-decent.

Any interest in joining me? About six weeks from today, you and I could both have the first draft of a novel done. Wouldn’t that be nice?