We are officially halfway through Nanowrimo, and if you’ve taken up the challenge, you might be needing some extra inspiration about now. It can be hard to believe that anything you write in a month could ever get published, but several books that got their first draft written during NaNoWriMo have gone on to top bestseller’s lists. Here are some fantastic books that came out of this challenge and the stories behind them:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
It actually took three NaNoWriMos for this hefty book to be completed, but it all started during November 2005. Morgenstern didn’t originally intend to send her characters to the circus, but the book took a surprise turn during her first month of writing, and she decided to go with it. She advises other writers to “take risks” and “let yourself be surprised.” It certainly worked out well for her. Her book was published in 2011 and spent seven weeks on the New York Times’ Best Seller List.
On Morgenstern’s website, she admits to being a binge writer who does not write every day. She also mentions that she didn’t seriously start trying to write until her mid-twenties and that The Night Circus was published when she was 32. As an “older” writer myself, I find that inspiring. Morgenstern is proof that there is no age group or writing style that you have to fit into to be successful.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
You might remember when this book and the movie adaptation of it were all the rage back in the early 2010s. Water for Elephants was first written during NaNoWriMo and then revised during the following year. Gruen’s efforts ended up launching her writing career.
If your November hasn’t gone smoothly, take heart! Gruen, who lives with a menagerie of pets and farm animals, had to deal with several sick pets and a broken foot during her NaNoWriMo effort. She says she got through her draft by focusing on the “fun bits.” She advises writers to remember that no matter what they are going through, someone else is out there in the same boat.
This is excellent advice, and it’s comforting to be reminded that we don’t have to have perfectly ordered lives to make writing work.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Unlike most of us who attempt NaNoWriMo, Rowell was already a published author when she took up the challenge. She admits to being skeptical about the one-month deadline, but she ended up producing one of her most beloved novels. She claims that the challenge of writing every day for a month improved her process and “helped me push past so many of my doubts, insecurities, and bad habits.”
So remember, even though your book probably won’t be finished and ready for publication by the end of the month, what you’re doing now can help you be a better writer, and that’s worth a lot.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Meyer penned Cinder, the first novel in her popular YA Lunar Chronicles series during NaNoWriMo, and has since published several more books and series. If you are an aspiring writer, you should note that Meyer is the third person on this list whose career was launched by her NaNoWriMo efforts. It really does happen, and you really could be next.
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
This bestselling romance novel (not to be confused with the eponymous movie) was not Guillory’s first published book, but it did become one of her most popular. She advises writers to give themselves credit for what they’ve accomplished instead of just feeling guilty about the days where the words didn’t flow. She’s written seven novels and published four of them, so she knows about the struggle and the reward of getting words down on the page.
If you are looking for more inspiration, you can find pep talks from these authors and many more on the NaNoWriMo website. I especially enjoyed reading what Brian Jacques and Lemony Snicket, two of my childhood faves, had to say. NaNoWriMo has done a great job of assembling a diverse group of writers from all walks of life and several different genres to talk about their NaNoWriMo experience and writing in general. I highly recommend that you check it out. But then go write cause you only have 15 days left.