5 Bestselling Authors Reveal Their NaNoWriMo Secrets

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So, you’ve toyed with the idea of writing a novel for years, but for one reason or another, you haven’t got around to it. Don’t sweat it. Just spend the 30 days of November writing approximately 1,667 words a day, and then boom! You’ve got yourself a 50,000 -word novel, all ready to reached the presses and become the next Great Novel.

Right? … Isn’t that how it works ??

This notion of “simply” writing one-thirtieth of a novel each day is part of why NaNoWriMo receives some flack, but it’s of course not the intended message of the month-long writing marathon. The objective isn’t to hit “publish” on whatever you’ve written come December 1st; the goal is to get you to write every single day, and to objective the month with some semblance of a novel — whether that’s a first draft or the first several chapters.( Or, as happens in some of the tales below, the first few volumes in a series !) To prove that there is worth in simply here is a listing of bestselling fictions that determined their roots during NaNoWriMo.


1. by Sara Gruen

You’ve probably heard of this one. If you avoided the New York Times Best Seller list between 2006 and 2012, and didn’t watch a single movie trailer in 2011, then there’s a chance you missed it. But for the rest of us, is a title that rings instant buzzers.

Gruen employed NaNoWriMo to draft three of her novels, including — an historic fiction about a young veterinarian who joins a Depression-era circus. She admits that the year she drafted her breakout success, she didn’t “win” the tournament: she didn’t pass the 50,000 word count goal. Instead, she accumulated a solid 40,000 word base.

As she said in an interview with Lindsey Rivait, “Those were 40,000 terms I did not have before.”

NaNoWriMo thoughts from Sara Gruen: “However far behind you are, take comfort in knowing that there is somebody else out there in the same boat, and look for that next fun scene. And then the next. And if that doesn’t work, set someone on fire. In your volume, of course.”

2. by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell admits that she first believed people simply used NaNoWriMo to dump words on paper, and that she would be better off taking the time to write quality over sum. She had already published two novels, one of which took her five years — so she certainly had the patience to go slow.

In the end, what she found great about the challenge was how the formation of a daily writing habit devoted her the freedom of the media to stop second-guessing herself. She discovered that writing with momentum didn’t result in merely “words on paper” — sometimes these terms could be pretty good.

During NaNoWriMo, I never left the world of the book long enough to lose momentum. I stayed immersed in the narrative all month long, and that constructed everything come so much smoother than usual. I got a much quicker grasp on the main characters and their voices. The plotlines shot forward…”

3. by Hugh Howey

In 2011, Hugh Howey prepared for his third consecutive NaNoWriMo by creating a detailed outline of the novel he intended to start writing on November 1st. However, in October, his recently self-published novelette Wool started to gain traction, making the examinations and selling transcripts by the thousands/ tens of thousands. So, Howey swiveled on his heel, fell his intended writing outline and decided to turn Wool into a series.

That November, Howey had a schedule that stimulates us wonder if he’s cracked the secret of time traveling: he worked full-time, was taking night-classes in astronomy, was volunteering in NaNoWriMo Young Writers program at a local library, and woke up every night at 3am to write. On top of all that, by the end of the month he had solidly smashed the 50,000 word counting goal: three tales in the series had been completed, and was edited, the cover was designed, and it was published on Amazon. And it was already producing sales … whew! Today, the cinema rights to are owned by 20 th Century Fox.

“I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t have written the same books if I’d written them any other style. The compressed nature of a NaNo-novel constructs for a tighter plot. It reinforces the importance of not taking a day off. NaNoWriMo isn’t a writing exercising for me. It trained me to be a pro.”

4. by Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morgenstern took part in NaNoWriMo every year from 2003 to 2009. Her best-known novel,, was beginning to take form in 2005 and was refined over the next two years with blitzes of writing and re-writing in the 2006 and 2007 NaNos. Then in 2010, Morgenstern took her first break from the writing tournament to edit her volume, during which she altered significant parts of the tale. According to Morgenstern, this is the point of NaNoWriMo: to discover a narrative that is likely to be excavated and polished over months or years afterwards — until all that is left is a gem of a novel.

Published in 2011, expended seven weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list, reaching number two on the hardcover fiction listing. The film rights have also been acquired by the producers of the movies.

” Even if you’re an outliner, leave room for the unexpected things to sneak in. Amazes are half the fun, the spontaneous road trips through tangents and subplots. They might end up being more important than you think. And if they’re not, you can always edit them out after November. No one has to know so for now, for this glorious November, you can do whatever you please. It’s your world to create and explore and even destroy if you want .”

5. by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer had been writing Sailor Moon fanfiction for years when she started posting her daily term counting as an instrument of motivating herself. And motivate herself, she did. In the 2008 NaNo, she wrote or drafted the first three novels of series: 70 K for 50 K for, and 30 K for.

As many of her successful NaNoWriMo peers will tell you, most of those terms were scrapped, but not wasted. They provided an in-depth roadmap that helped her write the words that stuck. All three of these fictions went on to land spots on the New York Times Best Seller list and the series is now on its fifth volume.

“[ NaNoWriMo] forces you to stillnes that internal editor and only get something written. If you’re telling yourself that it’s OK to be writing something bad because you can always come back and fix it afterward, it takes a lot of the pressure off.”

So, take heart, aspiring writers! Remember that NaNoWriMo is not about writing a bestselling novel. It’s about non-stop. Turning your 50,000 words into a potential best seller comes afterwards — with plenties, and plenties( and lots) of editing.

There is no shortage of great advice out there meant to help novelists through the month-long write blitz with the makings of great fiction( and, for bonus phases: their sanity ). But, as Diana Gabaldon says: “…no matter how you write, it’s always you and the page. And the page isn’t in a position to tell you anything you do is wrong. Therefore…anything you do must necessarily be the Right Way to Write. Go for it! ”

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