Leveraging Writing Challenges: 5 Books That Began with NaNoWriMo

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Still on the fence about whether to do NaNoWriMo? As in, the virtual shared goal where writers complete 50,000 words in a month.

That may sound formidable and like you’ll have to WORK HARDER, but not necessarily. I break down the daily word requirements below this list and they’re doable. You could think of it as focusing more than working super duper hard.

Here’s a look at 5 popular books that began as NaNoWriMo drafts, to help you decide whether it’s worth it make it your focus this November! My two cents: It is!

1. Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus

The Night Circus

2. Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants

3. Hugh Howey’s Wool


4. Marissa Meyer’s Cinder


5. Jason M. Hough’s The Darwin Elevator


The main NaNoWriMo site lists a bunch of other traditionally-published and self-published books.

If you started today, you’d need to write at least 2,380 words a day to reach the 50,000 word mark. That’s significant, but one way to get your mind around that is to time yourself writing for fifteen minutes…multiply by four…figure out how many hours you’d be signing up for to reach 2,400 words per day.

As an example, if I type fiction at about 800 words an hour, I’d be signing up for two to three hours a day, if I started today. Even if you do about 600 words an hour that’s four hours. Many authors split it up (one in the morning before work, one at lunch break, two in the evening, for example). My point is, it could be doable!

Remember: drafts don’t have to be stunning…they can be a hot mess!

However, I don’t usually type my fiction drafts anymore. I dictate now for many reasons, the primary ones being speed and mobility. Doing that, I’ve doubled to tripled my hourly word count such that, 10 days into NaNoWriMo, I have 36,000 words done, working just 3 hours a day on it. Yes, there is a learning curve to dictation but it’s something to think about!

Happy writing!


2 thoughts on “Leveraging Writing Challenges: 5 Books That Began with NaNoWriMo

  1. eclecticalli

    I’ve also found it easier to break it up into small chunks (since my writing speeds vary greatly. Some hours I can easily do almost 2k words, others I only manage 300). I write some during my morning commute, and during my lunch break (very rarely during my evening commute due to logistics) and by the time I get home I’m usually to exhausted to make my brain work on much beyond dinner and bed. But then on the weekends I can dedicate larger chunks of time to my writing, and often find that the first half hour is a challenge, but if I allow myself a few hours, the rest ends up being highly productive.


    1. cindygrigg

      I’d like to echo that bit about the first half hour being slow–same here. After that, I tend to get out of my own way and stop overthinking it. Kudos for doing all that writing throughout the day! I agree that splitting it up or at least taking a short break can make all the difference, plus then my subconscious mind is working during the non-writing times. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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