What’s The Best Writing App For NaNoWriMo?

What’s The Best Writing App For NaNoWriMo?

Photo via Visual Hunt

Do you have the start of your novel in a Google doc? A note on your phone? Or perhaps you spent the first week of NaNoWriMo meticulously organising an empty outline in Scrivener? Here are some of the writing tools that amateur novelists swear by.


Scrivener is more than a text editor; it’s also a tool for organising chapters or even snippets of text. I know one freelancer who does all of her article writing in one gigantic Scrivener binder. It’s a powerful tool, and has plenty of NaNo-friendly features like counting words per chapter or for the whole project.

It’s $US40 ($52) on Windows, $US45 ($59) on Mac, but there’s also a 30-day free trial that can carry you all the way through NaNo. The NaNoWriMo website has coupon codes, too: one you can use now for 20 per cent off, and another just for winners — you have to write 50,000 words to get this — for 50 per cent off.

Google Docs

A novel written in a Google doc is one you can access anywhere, even from your phone. Check out how commenter Stuart FitzWilliam is using it:

Write or Die

I discovered this one during my first NaNo, and it’s expanded since then from a simple free tool to a full-featured torture machine you can pay to support. To use Write or Die, you select a time or a word count as your goal — I like to do 10 minutes, which gets me 500+ words — and nothing special happens unless you stop writing.

Then it gets bad.

By default, within about ten seconds of your last key stroke, the screen turns red and your speakers will blare some very annoying music. Start typing again, and the punishments go away. The extra features include a mode that rewards rather than punishes you, by playing soothing ocean waves as long as you’re writing, and a more severe “kamikaze” mode that deletes your words if you stop typing.

What writing tools are you using this NaNoWriMo, and what are their pros and cons? I began writing my novel one year on a vintage Underwood typewriter, but gave it up because I wanted to write with friends at cafés and it was in no way portable. This year I’m back to Google docs. How about you?

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