Thank You, NaNoWriMo! (Sydney Salter)

My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters and Swoon At Your Own Risk were each drafted during the crazy haze of NaNoWriMo word counts and Thanksgiving pie-baking that has come to represent November for me. I've reached the 50,000 word goal several times over the years, most recently trying out Camp NaNoWriMo last August.

Pies baked while I wrote my 1,666 words!

But last November I found myself in a lower than low writing mood. NaNo to the rescue! I'd researched my topic like crazy; I'd crafted an outline based on the solid craft advice from John Truby's Anatomy Of Story, and I was ready to enjoy the fast-drafting flow.

Oh, how I struggled to find that creative flow. Writing those 50,000 was painful. I'd find myself sitting in the bagel shop (the one with free coffee refills) at 2:45 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, needing to pound out 500 more words to keep on track. And I didn't know what to write. The outline wasn't helping me.

I was sucky.

Yet, I'm stubborn and so I persevered, no matter how bad it got. Want to see how bad it got? Here's a direct quote from page 176:

[There are only three words in the at mess: "a" and "ad" and "go," so I guess I should keep writing!]"

A few weeks into the new year, I set the novel aside, unfinished. My sixteen year old was pissed. She called me a quitter. I ignored her and moved on to shiny new writing projects, eventually working my way out of that low writing mood. I started to have fun again.

So early last month, I found myself lecturing my daughter about not giving up, using my bumpy journey as a writer as an example. She brought up THE ABANDONED MANUSCRIPT.

"You are a quitter!"

My first thought: I should have never let you join the debate team. My second thought: look at that story again. Maybe it's not as bad as you think.

And it wasn't. Sure, there are some weird patches of monkey writing, and I skipped writing a few difficult scenes (darn it!), but overall it's solid work, and fun to revise.

I never would've written any of it if it weren't for wanting that darn NaNoWriMo certificate! Thank you, NaNoWriMo for keeping me writing through the rough patches of the creative life.

I rewarded myself with the Camp NaNo patches last November, not thinking I'd ever try a summer fast draft.


  1. Good for you, Sydney! Never underestimate the value of monkey writing!

  2. I LOVE the crazy-fast draft! So glad you went back to your book...

  3. I like the picture of your writing space; I think it must be inspiring to look at all those books as you write. And the picture of the pies look good, too. I think NaNoWrimo is great, even though I've never participated in it (November is a very busy month for me). Like you said, it's a good way to motivate people to keep writing.


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