These 5 Writing Tools Will Help You Survive NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts on November 1. Are you ready to write an entire novel in one month? If not, I’ve listed a few tools below that might help make this writing marathon a little less stressful.

Scrivener

Scrivener is a powerhouse and no list of writing tools would be complete without it. It’s more than just a word processor because you can literally use it to write all your drafts and then format the final draft into an ebook. From start to finish, Scrivener has it all.

Pros

  • You can create multiple drafts, organize folders and research in any way you want.
  • Has pre-made templates for novels, short stories, essays, etc.
  • Allows you to easily format your novel for Amazon Kindle, Smashwords and most other popular ebook formats.
  • Lets you set project target goals. Want to write 2,000 words/day, Scrivener will help you. This is why it’s such a great tool for NaNoWriMo.

Cons

  • Scrivener has so many features that it’s overwhelming at first. Definitely a learning curve.
  • Distracting. It’s easy to spend more time playing around with folders and other features you spend less time actually writing (this happens to me a lot).
  • Designed mostly for Mac users. I’ve heard the Windows version doesn’t have all the features the Mac version does.

Google Docs

Google docs is another word processor that let’s your writing live in the cloud. A lot of companies and organizations use it because it makes sharing documents a breeze. But even writers participating in NaNoWriMo can benefit from using Google docs. Here’s the rundown:

Pros

  • A full-featured word processor
  • Your draft can be edited anywhere you have an internet connection.
  • You can share drafts with others for editing.
  • Very user-friendly. Almost no learning curve.

Cons

  • Required to set up a Gmail account. Many worry about Google’s privacy policy.
  • Internet access required. If you can’t get online, you can’t access your draft.

I’ve used Google docs for everything from fiction projects to school papers. It never failed me and I loved the convenience of using any computer with an internet connection to access my work. Highly recommended.

Microsoft Word

Every writer is familiar with Word. It’s the industry-standard word processor. So it doesn’t need much of an introduction. But here a few observations anyway.

Pros

  • Reliable word processor for distraction-free writing (if you use it for writing-only)
  • Still has quite a few features for writers who need something more advanced.
  • Spell check and grammar check are surprisingly accurate (still, don’t rely on them 100%).
  • Easily available for PCs and Macs.

Cons

  • Might be too basic, especially if you do a lot of research for your writing.
  • Word can format your novel into an ebook, but it’s not nearly as easy as Scrivener makes it.
  • File sizes. A lot of meta information is also saved along with your document. This makes your Word file unnecessarily large.

Evernote

While Evernote isn’t a word processor (though it can easily be used as one), it’s still a tool I use daily. I use it to organize everything from writing drafts, ideas, article clips from websites, and more.

Pros

  • Easy to use. Create a notebook and start adding notes. That’s it! You can also add tags to each note for easy searching.
  • Available as an app across multiple devices. I have the Evernote app on my Mac, iPhone, Kindle Fire and iPad. Plus you can access your account online using any computer.
  • Once a note is synced, it can be accessed/edited from anywhere.

Cons

  • Evernote has been criticized for their TOS and privacy policy.
  • As with anything being stored “in the cloud,” your Evernote account is a possible target for nefarious hackers. Change your password often.

I really can’t think of any other cons. Evernote has always been a great tool for me and hasn’t let me down yet. If you need a place to organize all the different digital “scraps” in your life, then I highly recommend Evernote.

Dropbox

Backing up your writing is not optional. If something were to happen to your computer and you didn’t have a backup, all that time you spent during NaNoWriMo would be a waste. Dropbox offers one of the easiest ways to backup your work without using USB sticks.

Pros

  • You can literally drag-and-drop your document file into your Dropbox folder, where it is immediately stored in the cloud.
  • Dropbox gives you 2GB of storage for free. That’s plenty of storage for several drafts.
  • You can share files with others.

Cons

  • Anything in the cloud is a target for hackers. Dropbox has had recent security problems.
  • If you plan on storing more than just your writing in your Dropbox account (pictures, videos, etc), you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account – starting at $9.99/month.

I personally use Dropbox to share pictures between my iPhone and computer. Most of my documents are backed up using Google Drive.

 

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