Books Written During NaNoWriMo

Posted on Oct 10, 2022

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Written by Sarah Rexford

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Do you struggle to get words on the page or meet your writing deadline? You’re not alone. In fact, some writers struggle with writer’s block to the extent that they take a pretty massive step to combat it. 

In this article, we discuss books written during NaNoWriMo, what it is, and how it can help you meet your writing goals. 

If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo before, you’re in for a treat. Perhaps you participated before and want to take a deeper dive into this type of writing. Wherever you find yourself, let’s talk about you and your writing needs. 

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Before diving in, consider checking out this blog on plotting and pantsing to identify what kind of a writer you are. Now let’s get into some of the books written during NaNoWriMo!

What Is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and began in 1999 as a simple yet difficult challenge: Write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. This writing spree begins every year on the first of November.

Hundreds of thousands of writers start the month with their eye on the goal of reaching 50,000 words by the end of November. 

In fact, according to the NaNoWriMo website, in 2021:

  • 427,653 writers participated in our programs
  • 406 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.
  • 51,507 Campers tackled a writing project at Camp NaNoWriMo.

If you’re wondering if anyone could write the first 50 thousand words of a truly great novel in just thirty days, this fun fact may surprise you: Hundreds of novels associated with this global writing month have been traditionally published. 

Do any of these titles sound familiar?

  • Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants
  • Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus
  • Hugh Howey’s Wool
  • Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl
  • Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator
  • Marissa Meyer’s Cinder

In addition to knowing that writers around the world participate along with you, successful authors provide mentorship to participants via pep talks.

Authors John Green, Andy Weir, N. K. Jemisin, Veronica Roth, and others have mentored writers in past years. 

Your Writing Schedule

NaNoWriMo is a great way to begin your next writing project because you can join in with writers worldwide—knowing you’re all on the same schedule. 

Of course, you will want to break your 50 thousand words into weeks, days, and possibly hours. If you aim for 2500 words every weekday, you can spend the weekends catching up on any words you may have missed.

Writers who join this November challenge come from different backgrounds, jobs, and schedules. 

It’s vital to create a writing schedule that fits your needs. This way, you can set yourself up for success in the best way possible. 

On a day you find it particularly difficult to complete your word count, remember that writers worldwide are pushing forward just like you. 

Passionate Or Crazy?

If you are trying to decide whether to join NaNoWriMo this year, first assess what stage you are at in your writing, your life, and what type of writer you are. 

Some writers are plotters and find it essential to plot out their story before ever typing that first sentence. Other writers are pantsers and write the story as it comes to them. Some writers are a hybrid. 

Discover what type of writer you are, then decide if this is the year to write 50 thousand words in November. For instance, if you are a plotter, consider spending October plotting your story and November drafting it. 

Now that you know how you’ll pursue this year’s NaNoWriMo, let’s look at examples of past November writing. 

NaNoWriMo Examples 

There are many examples of books that did remarkably well and found their start during NaNoWriMo. Let’s start with author Carrie Ryan. 

#1 – The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a YA, New York Times bestseller. This novel is set in the post-apocalyptic United States. The clencher? It’s overrun with zombies. You may be impressed that this NaNoWriMo book became a bestseller, but here’s some more news: The Forest of Hands and Teeth is the first of a trilogy, and the film rights are said to have been optioned by Seven Star Pictures.

#2 – Wool, from author Hugh Howey, is highly reviewed by Barnes and Noble: “In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep… Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.” This book is so loved that director Ridley Scott expressed interest in directing the Wool movie, the rights to which have been purchased by 20th Century Fox.

#3 – The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill is another novel that owes its success to NaNoWriMo. Amazon describes it as “part science fiction, part horror—and, at its core, a love story between a brilliant young computer genius and the fragile woman he has loved since high school.” 

#4 – The Night Circus is not only Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel but is frequently said to be the biggest title to come out of NaNoWriMo. With two magicians as protagonists and an instant bestseller, Morgenstern wrote this novel over three NaNoWriMos. The effort put in definitely paid off! 

#5 – Let’s end strong with not one, not two, but three novels written in just one November. Author Marissa Meyer wrote Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress in a single NaNoWriMo. If you find yourself in love with the classics but want to add a twist of science fiction, consider reading these as preparation for your own writing. 

As you can see, there are various ways to use the month of November for your writing benefit. Like Morgenstern, you could work on the same project for three NaNoWriMos and watch your effort turn into an immediate bestseller. 

If you are a remarkably fast writer, you could follow in Meyer’s footsteps and write triple the word count in just one month. 

Regardless, it’s essential to use the month of November in the way that best fits your writing technique, the time you can commit, and your writing goals. 

Is NaNoWriMo Your Next Big Break? 

NaNoWriMo is not just thirty days of aimless writing. Used well, it can be a month you devote to pursuing your craft and taking your writing to the next level. 

As you saw in the above examples, numerous writers found success not just in writing their 50 thousand words in thirty days but in publishing their books, hitting bestseller lists, and even engaging in conversations about film rights.

If you are willing to devote thirty consecutive days to your passion, writing does not just need to be a side hobby for you. 

Participating in NaNoWriMo takes consistent commitment, putting your writing first, and extreme focus. However, when you prepare to devote a month of the year to your writing, you’ll likely be surprised at the success you find. 

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As long as you meet your 50,000 word count goal, you win this global writing challenge. And who knows, you may even become a bestselling author because of it!

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