NaNoWriMo Really Works For Me by Sydney Salter

My secret: writing fast in the month of November really works for me. I love how I get immersed in my characters' stories as I push through to that 1,666 word count each day. I like forcing myself to get those words written even when I'm making a Thanksgiving feast or have lots of other things to do.

My first published manuscript MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS was a NaNoWriMo novel. So was SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I thought I didn't need NaNoWriMo anymore. I was still completing manuscripts, albeit slowly.


After eight years I will be emerging from a publishing slump when my science-fiction sports novel SPONSORED is published by ChiZine Publications in September 2020. I sold the novel to the press more than three years ago, after a two year wait to hear about my initial submission, so it still felt like a big old slump until I finally got my editorial letter a few weeks ago.

Pushing myself through the slump has been hard at times. It's been so easy to read someone else's published book through my writing time. Easy to say - I'll write tomorrow. I added a few words. That's good enough for today.

But it's so much harder to pick up a story that's been sitting for a few days and get back into the voice, not to mention the plot! I always used prime writing time to reread what I'd written so I could simply remember things.

I wasn't using my time efficiently by writing so sporadically. Writing that way felt like something I was avoiding rather than embracing. If I could have stopped writing, I would have stopped. So many of my partners in writing have stopped - leaving our once thriving writing group with just two of us.

In spite of feeling like a slumpy loser, I kept finishing one manuscript and planning the next one.

Working on my edits for SPONSORED reminded me how much John Truby's The Anatomy Of Story helped me plot an interesting story. So I decided to postpone drafting my next WIP and dived into more thorough preparation. I worked through Truby's book - and found myself with better developed characters and a long list of scenes as Halloween approached.


I logged onto the NaNoWriMo website - just to poke around. Turns out my last NaNoWriMo was in 2011. I'd written 50,000 words of a novel called SPONSORED.

That was enough to convince me. I signed up my new WIP and got ready to write! I'm 15,205 words into my new story, and I'm loving my characters and loving the rush of writing fast.

No time to doubt. No time to question. No time to procrastinate. Writing feels fun again! I'm ready to add another 1,666 right now!


  1. Hi Sydney, I've been having a similar experience with writing lately and also signed up to do Nano. Forgot how relentless the pace is-- but also forgot how fun it could be too!

  2. This is AMAZING!!!! I work best with a 1/2 NaNoWriMO--some structure, but enough freedom to go where I need to, even if it's off the page for discovery or back to the top to resettle myself.

  3. YES! And congrats on the forthcoming book!


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