Whether Tis Nobler to NaNo

… or NOT to NaNo

By Jeff Salter

This week, we’re weighing in on the annual drive to produce a 50k word novel during November. Before I expound, let me set down some context:

I know many authors who hold down full time jobs, run a household, tend to kids, deal with a spouse, remain involved in community and/or church… and still manage to find time to write. For some of these, NaNo is a welcome haven because it gives some external “proof” – were it needed – to the family that “I need this time.”

I have the comparative advantage of being retired, my kids are grown, my spouse is busy with her own projects, and the external demands on my time/energy are manageable.



Some folks love this endeavor and look forward to it all year — a few even have a NaNo boot camp earlier in the year to prepare their writing chops.

I have admiration and genuine exhortation for those who do participate. Each year I hear success stories from someone who drafted a work during NaNo which later nabbed an agent, secured a contract, or won a contest. That’s terrific and I wish them well.

If NaNo does nothing more than provide a structure, some incentive, and peer accountability to the people who might otherwise strain for one or more of those… then it has my complete blessing.

How about Me?

Me? In the past two Novembers, I’ve been revising, editing, and proofing like crazy, on external deadlines — not at all conducive to whacking out 50k words on something new.

That said, I’ve proven to myself that I can crank out an average of some 3,000 words per day when I’m really hot on a first draft. And I’ve established that I can produce a medium length novel in 5-6 weeks, other things being equal. So, I’m content with my own benchmarks and my own schedule.

My production

After I re-read my blog from October four years ago (on this very topic), I realized I’d pretty much said nearly everything I could think of on this topic. This older blog highlights some of my production in the two year period between mid-2009 and mid-2011. It would take too long to recapture my output between then and the end of 2013, but I did run a quick check of my production during the two years of 2014 & 2015.

In 2014, while also overhauling, editing, revising four older novels or novellas, I also produced three new novels (G&MM, NEBA, and SOC8). In 2015, while also overhauling, editing, revising two older novels, I also produced one new novel (SM) and three new novellas (1SF, PTMM, and NEP).

So in these two years, I’ve managed to create four new novels (79,600 words, 60,200 words, 51,000 words, and 44,500 words) … and three new novellas (39,000 words, 37,000 words, and 34,000 words). Of those seven new titles, four are already published and one is currently submitted.

If I totaled all that up and averaged it out over 24 months, perhaps no single month would be a 50k month. But maybe it would — because I also wrote nearly 30k words on a story which is about two-thirds complete. And I’ve also produced another three unfinished stories (ranging from 11k to 19k words), four others (ranging from 4300 to 7700 words), three more (ranging from 1100 to 1600 words) and numerous starts and concepts.

All of that is to say: my output jumps around and does not neatly fit into a single calendar month when all else is blocked out.

Here’s the link to my words of wisdom from October 2011:



What about you? Did you participate in NaNo this year? Have you ever participated? How did you do?

[JLS – # 256]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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9 Responses to Whether Tis Nobler to NaNo

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Great blog, Jeff. Sadly, I have not participated in NaNo in the past 2 years due to volunteer work with my children’s extracurricular activities. The height of their season is in November, so with the holidays and normal day-to-day functions, it would be impossible for me to commit.

    But I hope to join the ranks again next year. I do like the accountability and goal setting of NaNo, though my goals have always been half of the 50K. I admire those who can bust out those 1667 words a day. Maybe someday I can boast the same. For now, I’m just happy to reach the halfway mark.

    Incidentally, I haven’t written a word since May due to outside factors. I am soooooo looking forward to getting back in the saddle again.


    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Jenn. Yeah, I know they had to pick SOME month, and any month selected would have its detractors. But I’ve bumped into lots of folks who find Nov. just awful for this.
      Nothing since May? Girl, you’d better get back to your stories!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful post Jeff. Seeing what you have put worked on in that time period is really impressive. I love your stories. I will be going back to check out your older post as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t imagine having the time, especially in November.I’m doing my post for tomorrow now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I have to agree with you, Jeff. You can be very prolific at times. I too have written 50K in a single month – it’s just that none of those months began with the letter N. Oh well. It’s a good thing that’s not a requirement for publication!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jeff7salter says:

    Another factor here to consider is all the time and effort it takes to go through each novel for the 4 or 5 drafts necessary before you can submit it. Not to mention the 3-4 stages of edits, once the ms. is contracted. All that work really cuts into your FIRST draft writing time.


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