Writers who NaNo

It’s nearly the end of November, and with it comes the end of NaNoWriMo. I’m sure it’s been a rollercoaster ride, but once you hit that word count – what then?

Some of you might be discovering that 50,000 words is not really enough to get your story told. You may have even heard the controversy that 50,000 words is actually a novella. Shock, horror!

Fear not, I’m here to put your mind at ease, with a little inspiration from big-name authors who write in the NaNo style.

Gatsby believes in you.

Famous 50,000 word novels

You’ve ‘won’ NaNo and you have 50,000 words just waiting to be edited and made into something awesome. But is it enough? Do people read 50,000 word novels? Is it possible to write something really great with such a limited word count? Yes, yes to all of those questions. Just check out the word counts of these famous novels.

  • Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: 46,118 words
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: 46,333 words
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk: 49,962 words
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: 50,061 words
  • The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks: 52,000 words
We’ve all felt a bit like this during NaNo…

Published authors who write at NaNo pace

OK, so 50,000 words is a novel and it can be great. But NaNo is, by definition, a first draft. It’s messy and disorganised and a bit seat-of-the pants. 50,000 words in a month? Surely it’s not possible to actually write anything good that quickly? Again, quash those doubts! It’s perfectly possible. These authors all wrote hugely memorable books in very short time spans.

  • Stephen King claimed in his autobiography to write 2,000 words a day, every day. He lives in a constant state of NaNoWriMo!
  • Kazuo Ishiguro completed The Remains of the Day (70,000 words) in one month.
  • John Scalzi wrote most of Lock In in one month. It went on to be a bestseller and he said that most of his words made the final cut.
  • John Boyne wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (44,800 words) in two days.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (26,059 words) in three days. Then his wife burned it, so he wrote it again … in another three days.


So you see, no matter how confused or short your novel might seem at the moment, it’s possible to craft it into something wonderful. And if you’re really quick, you could have it finished by Christmas!

Happy writing. 🙂

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