#115: Secret Project Update

Some of you may know that I’ve been working on an app for writers. In September, I said that the plan was to launch it in time for NaNoWriMo 2019. Yeah. It’s been November for a couple of days now, and since I haven’t launched anything, I thought I’d give you a bit of an update.

In short, the project is late. Really late. Like the time back at uni when I spent the whole night studying for an exam, splashing my face with cold water and chain-drinking cans of Red Bull. When I rocked up on campus in the morning, there was no one there because, as it turned out, the exam had happened the day before.

Despite the delay, the project is going well. I’m making good progress both on the back-end service that will be powering the servers and the UI of the app itself. I really enjoy working on it, and I do think it has the potential to become a useful tool for writers of any level. However, I’ve severely underestimated the size of the task and failed to realise quite how much work it would be to get this out. I’m the only person working on it which means I have to do (and learn to do) absolutely everything. I like the challenge of working across many different disciplines, but it can be a struggle.

When building software businesses, the conventional wisdom is to build a scrappy prototype that you can show to users and then fix it on the fly. I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but I’m not building this to cash in on an idea. I want to enjoy the process of making it. I’m building this for myself too, and I don’t want to ship a half-baked promise-that-the-next-version-won’t-crash-every-five-minutes type of product. It won’t be perfect when I launch it, but it also won’t be a duct-tape and cardboard affair.

The same principle applies to writing books too. The usual advice is to plough through the first draft as fast as you can and fix things later. I don’t disagree with that, but as fast as you can doesn’t include going against the grain of what makes you happy. What’s the point of writing if everything about it makes you miserable?

Some writers take 30 days to draft their novel. Others may take a decade. I assume both are working as fast as they possibly can.

Anyway, as things stand now, it seems that I’ll need at least an extra month or two to get everything in place for launch. I’ll keep you posted until then. And because you’ve made it all the way to the end of the post, here’s what the app icon will (most likely) look like:

WA icon

Thanks for reading and best of luck if you’re doing NaNo this year!

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