New 30 day challenges: Get my finances in order. Write a novel.

Alright, I’ve decided my next two 30 day challenges. In October, I’m going to get my finances in order. Follow along with me to talk about money, hatch plans, and carry them out–it should be fun!

Then in November, I’m going to write a novel. Yup, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. There’s all kinds of reasons not to do this:
– I have good reason to believe I’ll write a sucky novel. My high school English teacher gently recommended that I stick to technical writing instead of creative writing.
– Also, I have no training/experience with creative writing.
– And I have no idea what I’m going to write.

But who cares? I’m doing it regardless. The thirty days will pass either way, so I might as well get a novel out of it. Or more likely, a novella. The NaNoWriMo folks shoot for 50,000 words, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t write that much.

I don’t know whether I’ll make the novel public or private. I’m leaning toward private. 50,000 words is ~175 pages in 30 days. That’s going to mean a lot of dialog on stilts and campy plot. The goal for me is to do something creative, but I see no particular reason to heap embarrassment on top of that. While you’re learning about NaNoWriMo, you can join in the fun if you want! November will fly by either way–why not try something new for a month?

And yes, I will be using Google Docs to write my novel. It has two things I need: auto-saving, and a word count function. Okay, three things, because you can do comments and formatting and weird fonts and colors and pictures and hyperlinks and stuff. And who knows, maybe I’ll need that? Who says a novel has to be just *words*?

If you want to join me and write a novel too, sign up at . Go do it right now, before you forget.

43 Responses to New 30 day challenges: Get my finances in order. Write a novel. (Leave a comment)

  1. Oh, yes. I’m seeing a noir book about the underside of search. Something like, The Girl in the BlackHat.

  2. I just signed up again. Last year I did… 3k words. Eek!

  3. Does it have to be fiction? Sounds like writing a “30-day challenge” book would be pretty easy for you. And perhaps quite profitable if published on LuLu or something similar.

    The only book I’ve ever published was a dictionary (Internet Slang Dictionary, ISBN 1847287522 – go buy one sorry couldn’t help myself) That was a lot of work in itself, and 80% of the content there was simply dictionary format.

    Writing an entire novel in a month would be crazy. What is that, just under 6 pages per day? Yikes!

  4. Good luck with your challenge. I can’t wait to read your novel :))

  5. Kristi, think of it like this: you have a headstart on everyone who is trying it for the first time this year!

    Ryan, I think it has to be fiction, or at least fiction-ish. And no co-authors are allowed. Yikes!

  6. Hi Matt,

    You can write about spy, like steal secret information from US Army
    like documents shows by wikileaks about afganistan war šŸ™‚

  7. oh oh, I know… it could be a tech-“fiction” book based “loosely” on real life “events”…

    say something like, ohhh I don’t know… a completely random example “imagining” that someone were to decipher the algorithm that some “random” large tech company uses to rank websites or something like that… and then there was like this easy button made which made getting to #1 on the “random companies” rankings for any term that was desired a real one click process like some lesser “gurus” have been peddling like snake oil online for years… of course there should be an much factual information as possible included into this novel, to ya know.. make it believable… oh, and some hot female aliens never hurt either šŸ™‚

  8. Dear Mr Matt Cutts, in this post you have used same URL ( three times, two times with keyword phrases and one time URL link, I want to know will it not hurt SEO laws? I am using only one time a URL link in a post. Please justify it.

  9. I would sugest the intelligent investor by Benjamin Graham (Graham is the guy who was Buffets mentor) it has great comentry on tech bubbles in the past compared torecent times. You might also want to get a copy of Securities analysis (again by Graham).

    Probaly need to hide that from Eric and co as Ghraham was very strong on paying share holders a dividend.

  10. Hi Matt,

    if you don’t want to show us your novel in the end, you should at least publish some excerpts from it.

  11. It should not be so difficult to find a great novel topic. Just create a story around google or the people behind the company and call them for example “The World changers” and may your 30 day December challange will be to write a movie script šŸ˜‰

  12. Antonio Coleman

    Work on that Novel do great work and people will appreciate the things you do..have a good one..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  13. The Bible… triathlons… meditation… climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro… writing a novel… Matt, it sounds like you Still Haven’t Found What You’re Lookin’ For!

  14. Make it a picture book and then all you need is 50 pictures… šŸ™‚

  15. I thought all you Google guys had PhDs – so you’ve probably published already, right?

    But seriously, if you are thinking of writing a novel, good luck with trying to do it in 30 days. Good writing means rewriting. Personally I am not a big author. Aside from having got out my thesis and a few academic publications, I just have to blog our events ( However while I was at McKinsey they gave us an amazing book I would highly recommend to you. Elements of Style, by Strunk & White (

    In case you don’t know, E B White wrote “Stuart Little”, “Charlottes Web” and did a lot of stuff for the New Yorker ( That he even chose to teach class in Cornell says a lot about him, and the way he edited the original book by Strunk (his own teacher) is really nice to see. Anyway, it is always an inspiration (and a huge wake-up call) to me to re-read it.

  16. Write me šŸ™‚ My completely coincidence internet story. An ordinary civil servant who loves read and learn. How looking to technology going? How seems on my eyes google and world gooing? (love/hate relationship:) Write difference between my vision and wordpress vision. Write human brain and machine brain vision diffrences. Write semanticweb how far away from now? Because could not see the logic on the Internet and world. Completely true story! But don’t press. I do not want to be famous. I understand that in twitter: When a people be famous becomes little bit blind…. Yes “little step to sem” good book name matt. Believe me. I wish easiness.. Bye

  17. I would personally prefer to see you participate in NaBloPoMo – the bloggy version. Posting every day. I made it through NaBloPoMo last year. It’s actually quite a challenge to write unique and valuable blog posts every single day. But good luck on the writing every day thing. If we don’t see you HERE as much, we’ll know why. šŸ™‚

  18. A Novel? What would it be? It’ll be awesome!
    Good luck.

  19. Good for you, Matt: delighted to see you tackle writing a book. Something I’ve thought about for a long time and never pulled the trigger on it. Maybe you doing it will motivate me to take action, too. Maybe. (Procrastination is my area of expertise … I’m better at it than just about anybody.)

    I came across an interesting article on book writing the other day on Steven Pressfield’s blog, entitled “The All Is Lost Moment” (it’s actually a two-part’er). Made me realize there’s even more to writing a good story than I realized.

  20. Hi Matt!

    There was a young man from the mountain
    who challenged a pen with a fountain.
    Past a month full of fright
    they came back from rewrite
    with about thousand words still not found then.

    SCNR šŸ˜‰ and I know, this limerick is scarse english.

    I think, writing should not be done under pressure – it may take years to get things right. I prefer this way: the idea for a plot forming like a micro glow-worm in your brain, you succeed to catch it and carefully grow it to a brightly shining light.

    Nevertheless, best wishes and let us participate in what your wrote (we are curious cats).

    Best regards, Thomas

  21. Bruce, don’t agonise. Just put it off. Don’t ya feel better already having just freed up 30 days?

  22. Hi Matt,
    I appreciate your work, Good luck with your challenge. I am very eager to read your novel.

  23. Good luck, you never know if its really good you could sell it online??

  24. You are unbelievable Matt your like a supernatural haha,go go for it just be with yourself and listen to what your heart desires .God lock!

  25. Pictures = 1,000 words.

    Who says the “novel” has to be all words indeed!

  26. Matt,

    If you are going to try to get your finances in order, I’d like to invite you to try our site. We provide true free credit scores and tools that evaluate your existing loans to determine if they are the best deal for you. We have 2MM members and hopefully have the good SEO practices you preach (SERP #1 for our service)

    I won’t spam your site with the link. Thanks for the consideration and keep up the good work.


  27. I’m also getting my finances in order and thinking about writing a novel. ‘From small town to big city life’ or something like that. I find it funny how we always try to shorten everything, SMX Advanced, SXSW, etc. Makes for easy reference, I wonder if that is how the Chinese language came to be over the generations?

  28. I’m joining you in writing a novel Matt! I might as well make this my 30-day challenge for November. Hehe!

    Please do post your story once it is complete. We’d all love to see your writing!

  29. Yeah! my vote comes through in the end!

  30. Matt,

    30 days challenge or less: get the “verified icon” on twitter……


    Matt Alonso

  31. dood – that’s gonna be tough, real tough.

  32. Hi Matt

    Hope you are well.
    I need a help from you.
    I started my website in Feb 2009. I added some copied content.
    But now I am adding all self-written posts.
    But then also, around a year has passed and I don’t get more than 200-300 daily uniques from Google.

    Could you please help me in gaining good traffic from Google.

    Please if you can have a look on my website and explain in detail.

    I will be waiting for your mail.

    Thanks A Lot In Advance’

  33. SUGGESTIONS ON NOVEL: Matt, you have been to many places both because of pleasure and novels. I think you could tell storeis “different people and different cultures”

  34. I am going to give this a whirl as well – care to be Writing Buddies?

  35. Matt I think you should make the novel public and in a series online. You know we would all read it. Would it be sci-fi, adventure or maybe erotic?

  36. Hey Matt,

    You can write your experience with any project in fiction-ish style. Considering your fame and fan club that might become an inspirational thing to someone or in the other words it can be said that it might become quite a success story for someone.

  37. Where will you find the time??? You’re a brave man taking that on…..and then telling the world on your blog, you can’t let everyone down now…..publish it, go on, be brave!

  38. Wow that’s a great goal… They say everyone has at least one book inside of them! Do you have any ideas for an outline yet? All the best with it šŸ™‚


  39. @Kristen Riley – Very true, a picture is worth 1,000 words! Do a picture book šŸ˜€

  40. I like David’s thinking. How about, The SEO Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest?

  41. Morris Rosenthal


    Make sure you sketch out that campy plot before you start. After writing short stories for a couple years (around 20 years ago) I decided to give a novel a shot but kept running out of steam. Finally a friend asked me to explain the plot.


    So I sketched out a 20 chapter plot, really 20 sentences, on the classic coffee shop napkin, and two months later I had a finshed novel. No great shakes, but finished.

    My memory is that I put about four hours a day into writing. I’ve no doubt you’re a much faster typer, but 30 days is still a push. And I’m not sure that typing was the bottle neck, more of a bandwidth issue.

    Maybe if you posted the work to your blog each day it would help move things along. At least it would help move your blog along:-)


  42. I just did a personal financial overhaul and diversification. I would like to recommend a book called The Solomon Portfolio by Robert W Katz. It is about how King Solomon diversified his assets and how historically over the past 38 years how that type of portfolio would have produced the highest yield and lowest standard deviation of risk. It’s is a diversification strategy from the Bible about the richest man that ever lived. After the past couple of years riding the stock market roller coaster I have a lot more peace now that I have followed this strategy.

  43. Use speech to text so you can get in a very relaxed state ( lying down?) and allow the voices to express in dialogue despite your natural censoring mind. Might be surprised. Speech to text is also quite fast. With stream of consciousness you can get 250 words in 8 to 10 minutes.