Justin Tadlock

One day, I'll write a novel

A wood table with an open notebook set in the background with a plain white coffee mug in the foreground.

As I struggled to write my About page a few days ago, I realized that I’ve always had one unchanging goal in life. This is a goal that I’ve had since I was a schoolboy. It hit me that I’m not any closer to achieving this goal than I was 10 or 15 years ago. I didn’t want to update that page with the same unaccomplished goal and have it sitting there for more years to come.

One day, I’ll write a novel.

Like many things that I thought I would have accomplished by now, “life” has gotten in the way. There’s always something else to do. I’m too tired after work. I’ve got an errand to run. I’ve got dinner to cook.

Thirteen years ago, I attempted to write a novel in one month following the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. This was arguably the busiest time of my life. I was taking several writing and literature courses, working two jobs, and trying to keep pace with all my party-going college friends. To make matters worse, I had to prep for semester finals and spend time with family for Thanksgiving. The most insane thing I could add to my schedule was attempting to write a novel within a month.

However, I still knocked out around 25,000 words of the 50,000-word goal before the month was out.

Today, I can’t say that I have the same excuses. Yes, I run my own business. Yes, paying bills and taxes is stressful. Yes, there’s a whole slew of other excuses that accompany adulthood. But, I’ll never be as busy as I was in college. I’m just a bit lazier and more stressed out with “adult” stuff.

What I’ve found to be the greatest motivator through my 30-something years is that nothing beats a good deadline. When I was writing Professional WordPress Plugin Development, I wouldn’t have finished a single chapter without a deadline (my co-authors and I had two chapters each per month). Having an editor awaiting an email with your chapters and an advance of a few 1,000 dollars helps, but deadlines are where the magic happens.

That’s why I’ve decided to hop on the NaNoWriMo train again this year. It will provide me with a solid deadline for the month.

Shooting for 50,000 words also breaks down to roughly 1,667 words every day. That’s an easy goal for someone who tends to be as long-winded as I am.

Some of you who have read my WordPress tutorials are now shaking your heads in agreement. Justin, cut some of the talk out and just show me the code!

I don’t have any characters in mind. I have no plot points scribbled on notepaper. I’m starting from zero. It’s only today that I decided to take the plunge after a few days of questioning whether I was mentally prepared for such an undertaking.

I’ll just write and see what happens. One massive brain dump.

I tend to wing things anyway. That’s when I do some of my best work in any field. I’ve written term papers in the hours prior to placing them in my professors’ hands. I’ve given presentations with only a couple of index cards worth of notes. I’ve built fully-functioning WordPress plugins on the fly. Perhaps my first novel should be no different.

I’m only posting this on my blog to make it a permanent goal that I’m not allowed to wiggle my way out of. If no one knows about it, is it really a goal?

This should be a fun, stressful, insane month. Let’s see where it goes. Feel free to join the adventure if you dare.