So National Novel Writing Month (often irritatingly abbreviated as NaNoWriMo) has begun again another year. For those of you who are not regular residents of Geeky Internetland, National Novel Writing Month challenges those who have too much free time on their hands to write a 50,000 word novel (175 pages) entirely during the month of November. That works out to a little less than 2,000 words a day, which may not seem like a lot to most, but scares the living daylights out of me.

When it comes to writing, I belong to the “type-a-sentence-then-backspace- furiously-and-edit-seventeen-times” school of thought. (It’s not a very good school.) It takes me a long time to write 2,000 words. Hell, it took me over an hour do to this, and this is, what, like 400? The thought of writing that much every single day is positively breathtaking.

Of course, the fact that it’s so much writing jammed into so little time is largely the point. If you’re going to tackle a project of that size, you really need a “damn the torpedoes” attitude. Part of me really wants to do it, to learn how to write now and edit later, because right now the torpedoes won’t leave me alone. I’m going to be involved in “National Doctoral Dissertation Writing Month” in the not-too-distant future, which will require a similar number of words, in a similar span of time, without the option of locking the manuscript in the sock drawer never to be seen again.

But I really can’t right now. I’m writing some papers at work, and since I like sleeping, I just don’t have the time. (I suppose I could just count the words in the papers and say they’re part of a novel; think anybody’d be interested in a thrilling page turner about structural bioinformatics?) And it’s a shame, because if I don’t get a little more practice, I don’t think my poor Backspace key (or my sanity) is going to make it.