“Do you do NaNoWriMo?”
This is one of the first questions people ask me when I tell them I am a writer. My answer? No. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo but I am all too familiar.
For those unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Taking place every November, the project helps new and aspiring writers write a novel in a single month.
50,000 words. 1,667 per day. Every day. A daunting task.
NaNoWriMo is as much about support as productivity. The umbrella site organizes local groups. It encourages writers with positive words. On almost every social media platform NaNoWriMo groups post daily word counts and sprint together under hashtags.
On one hand, it is one of the most inspiring times in writing.
Our culture is fascinated with marking off processes with chunks of time. Consider the RPM challenge, which is an album written and recorded and released all in February. In April there is a monthlong script sprint. The shelves of every bookstore in America are teeming with books in which an author takes a period of time to abstain from or indulge in something.
Sometimes I wonder whether anything takes on its natural process anymore.
As a ghostwriter, I am particularly fascinated by NaNoWriMo for a couple of distinct reasons. For one, it gets people thinking about writing. Anything that accomplishes that makes me happy. Another aspect is the sheer audacity. Asking participants to wake up on November 1st and produce 1,667 words when they likely have not produced a single line of fiction in their lives is crazy, perhaps dangerous. Would you encourage the guy in the cubicle next door to run a 26.2 mile marathon without training simply because he wore tennis shoes on Fridays?
Writers are readers and readers buy books. The sheer act of staring down 50,000 words raises the bar for everyone in the business. When I am asked, I usually caution writers who want to take part in NaNoWriMo to perhaps consult with a ghostwriter or manuscript consultant first. Get an idea of your story. Flesh out some of the uncertainties. Give your concept a much needed test run and see if it works out. Not everyone wants to do that with their mother or wife or a brother who are likely going to be nice no matter what you have.
Get in shape first. The advice applies to marathons and NaNoWriMo. Bring on a ghostwriting professional to bring it into shape before you try and bring it to life.