I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but if you are, here are some tools that might help those of you who are.
First of all, for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, which is, according to their website, “… a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.” If you’ve never heard of it, and would like to know more, then pop over to their site and read up on it quickly. And, if you’re considering doing this, it’s not too late! Everything kicks off tomorrow morning so there’s plenty of time, especially if you use the tools I’m about to share with you.
(Okay, these tools really don’t have a direct effect on how much time there is before starting, but they may help if you start writing.)
First of all, there are an amazing array of tools for writers, whether you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month or not. PC Magazine has a good round-up in their article Tools to Help You Write a Novel in 30 Days. I’ve written about several of these before, including Scrivener. Scrivener is a pretty main-stream tool that runs on Mac and Windows. It has a fairly long list of endorsements from authors of many stripes. I’ve been personally reluctant to start using this tool mainly due to cost. But, now, not only has it gotten less expensive, but you can get a free, trial copy especially for NaNoWriMo that will last until December 7th, which is a little bit longer than the regular 30 days. And, if you complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, you can get a 50% discount via a code that will be included on your “Winner’s Goodies” page at NaNoWriMo. But, even if you don’t “win” NaNoWriMo, you can get a 20% discount with a code found at the trial download link. You can also find a special NaNoWriMo template there to help you with your work in November.
If you’re still not ready to commit to a paid bit of software, you can try Plume, which I’ve mentioned on this blog before, in 2012. It’s free and has many of the same features as Scrivener. On the other hand, if you want yet another bit of free software that has similar but different features, check out the recently updated opensource project oStorybook. Again, it has a different look-and-feel, but it’s based on the same code as another popular, opensource software project that went dark. It’s free and should give a novelist all the tools they need to write their book and keep track of, well, everything.
Or, you can go the simplest route of all and just use a text editor, like I often do!
Either way, let me encourage you to take a risk and give NaNoWriMo a try if you have any interest in writing fiction for a living. It will be an eye-opening experience!