National Novel Writing Month–Marissa Meyer

To end this month’s series of blog posts about published novels that grew out of NaNoWriMo projects, let me introduce Marissa Meyer. Her series of bestselling novels reimaging the Cinderella story in a futuristic world, beginning with Cinder, were all started during National Novel Writing Month. Here’s Marissa:

Pep Talk from Marissa Meyer

Ahoy there, Fellow Novelists,

I hope this pep talk finds you happy, healthy, and in the full swings of writing euphoria.

I suspect that by now many of you have stumbled into pockets of magic during this month-long writing fling. Your characters have said ridiculously unexpected things, your settings have blossomed into life on the page, and you’ve had plot twists come screaming out of the ozone and smack you concussion-style on the forehead. These things tend to happen when you’re putting as much work into a novel as you are. After all, even if you’re not hitting your 1,667 words per day, I’m sure you’re at least thinking a great deal about hitting them, and it’s only fair that the muse rewards that.

But let’s be pessimistic for a moment and consider that maybe you haven’t had a magic-moment for, oh, a few hours, or a few days, or—heaven forbid!—this whole blasted month.

Never fear. Anyone who has ever written “The End” on a manuscript knows that, sometimes, inspiration eludes us. No one looks forward to those lulls in the writing process, but they are natural, and they can be overcome. These are the times when we must proceed on willpower and caffeine and the unflappable confidence that each word we write is one word closer to a finished novel. I can promise that, tough as those times may be, they often lead to some of our most proud and beautiful writing moments.

And lucky for us, there are non-magical tricks to get us past the slumps and back to that happy writing place. Before you, I lay out three common noveling dilemmas and some tips for conquering such foes.

Dilemma #1: If you find yourself realizing that, 35,000 words in, you’ve just about hit the end of this story and are convinced you’ll never make it to 50K…

It sounds like your book needs a hearty injection of The Unexpected. So unexpected that not even you could have seen it coming. The trick to landing an excellently unexpected insertion is to not go with the first idea that pops into your head—too often, that is the domain of clichés and the all-too-expected. Rather, try making a list of at least twenty things you would enjoy writing about right now. It doesn’t matter if it has anything to do with what you’ve written so far (you can always drop in some nice foreshadowing during revisions), and the whole point is that you’re about to insert something fun, unique, and exciting into this draft.

Maybe you’re being called toward eye patch-sporting pirates and buried treasure. Maybe you’re dying to write about a hitchhiker with aspirations of being the world’s greatest baseball player. Maybe your dystopic, plague-ridden society is bringing you down and you’d love to send your characters on a romp through a whimsical wonderland.

Make your list, choose what’s calling to you most, and drop it into the next chapter just as if you’d been planning it all along. Watch as your plot and characters scramble to make it work, and the words once more begin to pile up.

Dilemma #2: If you’re coming in on that beaming 50,000-word mark and you haven’t even introduced all the main characters yet…

Congratulations, it sounds like you might have a series in the works, or at least one crazy-epic novel. I can guarantee, however, that no matter the scope of your book, you will be more motivated to finish, revise, and edit after this month-long writing extravaganza if you’ve reached some kind of closure by midnight on November 30.

There is no rule against skipping some scenes and launching your way right into that massive good-against-evil climax you’ve been anticipating. Secure a few romantic confessions and a happily ever after and you’ve just wrapped up one monster of a storyline.

Then you can breathe deeply and look forward to filling in those plot holes come December.

Dilemma #3: If you’ve been a noveling mad-machine for days on end and are now struggling to keep your eyes open long enough to write “Once upon a time”…

Seriously? Go to bed. Even the most dedicated of us need a power nap now and then.

Awake refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready to show that novel who’s boss.

For all other dilemmas, I advise you to keep your head in the clouds and your hands on the keyboard, and to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. But if NaNoWriMo had been around back then, it very well might have been built in thirty.

Best of luck to you all, and I’ll see you at 50K.


Marissa Meyer

*Taken from

National Novel Writing Month–Fangirl

One of my favorite young adult novels, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, began as a NaNoWriMo project. Keep reading to find out a little about the book and for some encouragement from Rainbow Rowell about your own writing.


In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Here’s a pep talk from the brilliant and lovely Rainbow Rowell:


National Novel Writing Month–The Night Circus

This week’s NaNoWriMo success story is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern:


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Here is a pep talk from Erin Morgenstern for all of you participating in NaNoWriMo:



National Novel Writing Month–Water for Elephants

As a fun nod to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the OWL’s role as a Come Write In space, I thought it would be fun to share a different bestseller each week in November that began as a NaNoWriMo novel. First up, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.


Ninety-something-year-old Jacob Jankowski remembers his time in the circus as a young man during the Great Depression, and his friendship with Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, and Rosie, the elephant, who gave them hope.

Here’s a pep talk from author Sara Gruen, for those of you participating in NaNoWriMo:

See you next week!

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

To close out our series of November posts on writing and creativity, I’d like to share my personal favorite, On Writing by Stephen King:


Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer. Indispensable.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

This November, I’d like to share books about writing and creativity. Up first, Big Magic by the incomparable Elizabeth Gilbert:


Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy. (From the publisher.)