If you're ever, ever, ever even remotely considered writing a novel (I have for years - since I was a teenager), then I highly recommend trying out the Nanowrimo competition. The 2006 one is almost over - it happens in November every year, but there is always next year.
It is a competition with yourself, there are no prizes except that if you finish, you have a nice, shiny new rough draft of a novel. The support network is amazing, full of like minded, delusional people also trying to finish a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
Check out www.nanowrimo.org site.
I was roped into this by my good friend Andy, who casually pointed me to the web page one day in an email, subject line: “Interesting Challenge”. So, something like 3 or 4 months later, we're chatting about it in the weeks leading up to November.
Andy: “So, are you going to do it?”
Travis: “Sure! Why the hell not?”
My first day, November 1st. I couldn't sleep, I'm up just after 6AM, wired (I don't drink coffee - this is caffeine free!). I am at work by 7:15AM (unprecedented outside of a support call). I start writing. I was a purist – while the site says you are allowed all the outlining you want before November, as long as you write the prose starting midnight Nov 1, I didn't even know the main character's name going in. No outlines - nothing but a concept that had come to me while watching a mediocre sci-fi movie.
8:30AM, I'm at 1400 words and completely stoked. I know, know that I will finish this. It is one of the greatest moments of my life! That made it all worth it, that first morning.
I never duplicated that feeling for the rest of November. However, it was pretty close, when at 6:45 on November 22nd, I check my word count and I'm at 50016 words! It is awesome, and I love my ending – I can hardly ask for more!
Check it out – you will thank me!