Hello wrimos, we’re just a few days away from the end of November! That means that NaNoWriMo is almost up too. How has your writing been? Are you on track or do you have to burn some midnight oil to catch up? Or have you already finished?! I’ve already finished mine! It’s my fourth NaNoWriMo win, so I’m super happy about it!
However, if you’ve failed NaNoWriMo, don’t give up on writing! Look at it as a good learning experience. You get to know your writing habits and what suits you or not. And best of all it got some words on the paper and gave you a rough idea on what your novel is about. It’s a good stepping stone for something more. Besides, there’s always next year. And if you can’t wait that long, there’s Camp NaNoWriMo in April and June. Those even allow you to set your own word count goal! And if you think NaNoWriMo is not for you, that’s fine too because there’s no universal method for writing a novel. Just do it in the way that best suits you, the best you can.
If you’ve won, or are about to win, don’t get cocky too. Finishing NaNoWriMo doesn’t guarantee your book is good enough for a publishing deal. I should know. I’m the king of finishing awful drafts that needs tons of tinkering to make it good. I just always want to jump immediately into a new project. It’s time to polish that draft and make the gem shine through the dirt! *says the guy that’s likely moving onto a new project in December*
That said, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some wrimos that got their books published. NaNoWriMo’s site lists about 400 authors who got published traditionally and about 200 who are self-published, that’s an incredible sum. I took some time and looked through them to see if I could find some authors that I know.
Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins (Winner 2007, Published 2010)
Stephanie Perkins spent four years working on a project, but when she decided to join NaNoWriMo in 2007, she went with a whole new story idea, because she sees NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to not get attached to an “Idea” but rather as a low stakes affair. So she started reading up about Paris one week before NaNo and the rest of is history. No, seriously though, she worked hard, revised it a ton of time and got her book deal in April 2009. Here’s the full story.
Rainbow Rowell (Winner 2011, Published 2013)
Rainbow Rowell participated in the 2011, after having written two books and sold them to publishers. She was skeptical of it at first, but decided to join it, just to experience it. Doing NaNoWriMo forced her to stop self editing and push on with the writing, which allowed her to gain momentum and better understand her characters. She says that Fangirl was some of the bravest writing she’s done.
Cinder, Scarlet and Cress
Marissa Meyer (Winner 2008, Published 2012, 2013, 2014)
Marissa Meyer joined NaNoWriMo in 2008 for one purpose, to be on the latest episode of Star Trek. No, seriously. The Seattle-area writer with the most words would win an opportunity for a walk-on role and boy did she went ham with it. Cinder, Scarlet and Cress were all first drafted in that single NaNoWriMo for a total of over 150,000 words. Damn. She’s also been quite the regular, writing Heartless, Fairest and a few other unpublished novels for NaNoWriMo during her 10 years as a wrimo. Personally, I’m excited for the Gatlon School for Vigilantes.
Wool 2,3 and 4
Hugh Howey (Winner 2011, Published 2011)
Hugh Howey decided to participate in NaNoWriMo 2011 after winning the two NaNoWriMos prior to that. He went in with confidence and an outlined book. Then October came, and his recently self-published novelette was hitting sales number he never imagined. And that novelette was book 1 of the Wool series. And the reviews were asking where the rest of the story was. So he scrapped his plans and decided to write three more stories to the Wool series. He managed to write all three, and publish Book 2 in that very month and went on to have Simon & Schuster signed to publish physical copies of Wool.
By the way, he was doing this while working a full time job and taking an astronomy class. Sometimes, he wakes up at 3am in the morning to write. Talk about productivity.
Shades of Milk and Honey
Mary Robinette Kowell (Winner 2006, Published 2010)
I tried looking out for some of the Writing Excuses crew and they all have done NaNoWriMos in the past. Dan Wells wrote his fourth book there. Brandon Sanderson did 7 NaNoWriMos. And Mary wrote Shades of Milk and Honey in 2006’s NaNoWriMo. She’s the only one that talked at length about her experience.
So those are some of the successful winners of past NaNoWriMos. With hardwork and luck, it’s possible that you will join in their ranks too! So keep your head up and continue writing, revising and editing until you have something that you can be proud of! And as always, Happy Writing!