Six bestsellers that were written in only a month

Books written in only a month
One month, one book: The first draft of these novels were devised in just a month or less.
Courtesy of publishers

Every week, The Thread tackles your book questions, big and small. Ask a question now.

This week's question: What books have been written in only a month?

In honor of National Novel Writing Month, in which thousands of people attempt to write an entire novel in the month of November, we're running down the list of the speediest writers around.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

The challenge, also known as NaNoWriMo, encourages people to hit 50,000 words in just 30 days. These books — or the first drafts, at least — were written in just a month.

• "The Gambler" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky was under a tight deadline for this novel: He signed a contract that said if he didn't produce a full-length book in 26 days, he would forfeit the rights to his work for 9 years. He turned to his vice — gambling — for inspiration. (He was also writing "Crime and Punishment" at the same time.)

• "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac

Legend has it that Kerouac pounded out seven years of adventures in just three weeks. He typed the first draft on a single roll of paper that stretched for 120 feet.

• "A Study in Scarlet" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Considered to be "the most important book Conan Doyle ever wrote," according to Sotheby's, "A Study in Scarlet" was written in just three weeks. The book introduced the world Sherlock Holmes and his constant companion, Dr. James Watson.

• "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner

Faulkner claimed to have written the classic in just weeks, working every night from midnight until 4:00 a.m. while he kept his day job at a power plant. He also claimed that he didn't change a word from the original draft.

• "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern

National Novel Writing Month was the inspiration Morgenstern needed to put pen to paper. She sketched out "The Night Circus" one November — and then spent more than a year rewriting and revising. The book sat on the New York Times bestseller list for seven weeks.

• "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell

"I was very skeptical about NaNoWriMo at first," Rowell admitted. She had already finished two books when she took up the one-month challenge that ultimately produced "Fangirl." "That 50,000-word pile I made wasn't a mess at all," she said. "It's some of the bravest writing I've ever done."

There's more where that came from. NaNoWriMo estimates that more than 300 novels first drafted during the challenge have been picked up by publishing houses. If you want to get in on the fun, there's still time.

We're only four days into the challenge — can you crank out 6,400 words and catch up?