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6 NaNoWriMo Success Stories to Kick You Into Action

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has become something of a phenomenon, with thousands of participants aiming to complete 50,000 word novels, tracking their progress on the website. Many of these novels have gone on to be published. But did you know that some of your favorites started out this way? 

 

I tried it once. I felt very good about myself when, on the first day, I dumped in the 20,000 words I had already written over the past year. But as the days crept by, and I was supposed to have written more than 20,000 words, I began to feel less good about myself. Had I known, however, that the following books began in the same place as my meager 20,000 words, maybe I would have felt a little more motivated.

 

1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

 

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Water of Elephants remained on the best-seller lists for more than a year and became a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. It also started as a NaNoWriMo novel. Ya. Pretty cool. Get scribbling.

 

2. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

 

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A New York Times bestseller, the film rights to this post-apocalyptic YA dystopia were optioned by Seven Star Pictures, with Game of Thrones‘ Maisie Williams set to star.

 

3. CinderScarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer

 

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Each of Meyer’s trilogy, which are re-imaginings of classic fairy tales, began as NaNoWriMo projects and are now all published. Meyer started out writing Sailor Moon fan fiction and her first book, Cinder, was a New York Times bestseller. You could be next!

 

4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 

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The Night Circus was a bestseller in 2011 and the movie rights were acquired by the Harry Potter producers.  The Night Circus started out as 50,000 words of unconnected scenes and images, and became a published novel seven years later. 

 

5. Wool by Hugh Howey

 

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Wool went from a self-published short story to a Simon & Schuster-published New York Times bestseller in 2012. It has been translated into over forty languages, and Ridley Scott and 20th Century Fox will be adapting it for the big screen. About his NaNoWriMo experience, Howey says:

 

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

 

6. Fangirl: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell

 

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Though Rowell already had two novels under her belt when she took on NaNoWriMo in 2011, according to Barnes & Noble, Rowell says the project forced her ‘to dive into the world of her story and characters like never before, producing “some of the bravest writing” she’s ever done.’

 

Okay, so here we have everyone from an already bestselling novelist, to a Sailor Moon fan fiction writer. You can no longer feel bad about your stagnant 20,000 words. Throw them out and start from scratch. Or else throw them in the NaNoWriMo blender and start piling stuff in on top of them. Sooner or later you’ll have something. It may not be delicious (yet). But it will be something.

 

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