You’re two weeks into the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and you’re feeling the strain. Perhaps the ten minutes you allotted to Facebook turned into an hour, or half the day flew by while you brainstormed a new name for your character.
Yes, the clock is ticking and you have a goal to reach, but with the right tools, you can still cross that finish line with time to spare.
1) Write or Die
A good timer is essential for helping you stay on track but for NaNoWriMo writers, no ordinary timer will do. You need a tool that will not only track your time but will push you to succeed.
You need Write Or Die! Write Or Die will make sure that you meet your writing goals by providing consequences for distraction and procrastination, such as flashing lights, unpleasant noises, and even the deletion of words.
If this sounds a little too intense you can dial it back and try out the Stimulus or Reward modes instead, which offer more positive types of encouragement.
NaNoWriMo is all about getting your story onto the page without letting yourself get distracted by self-doubts and critiques.
But if you’re finding yourself simply unable to resist the urge to edit, then Ilys is the tool for you. With Ilys editing is not an option. When you log in, Ilys will ask you to input your word count goal for the day, after which you will begin writing.
From that point on you will only be able to view the single letter that you are currently typing. There is no looking back, no editing, and no deleting. In fact, you can’t even see anything that you have written until you reach your goal, so you have no choice but to keep going forward, one letter at a time.
You’re out shopping when suddenly you get slammed by a genius idea for your story.
Before that idea can slip away, pull out your phone and jot it down in Evernote. Later, when you’re in front of your computer, you can open up Evernote and pull up the notes you had left yourself.
In short, it’s a fantastic tool for taking notes, making lists, and creating reminders, and it can be easily accessed from any device. Evernote has even created special templates in honor of NaNoWriMo to help writers plot their stories and characters.
Organize your story plan with this simple, clean word-processing program. In the words of Simon Haynes, the program’s creator, “keep track of your work while leaving your mind free to create.”
Hanes designed yWriter to help fellow authors organize their projects by scenes, which can be created and moved around as the story develops, and even generated into reports.
Although Trello is often thought of as a project management tool for team collaboration it can also come in very handy for organizing your novel.
Trello’s similarity to a corkboard with movable sticky notes makes it easy to visualize the development of your story, with all of its characters and plot lines. The colored labels make it simple to keep track of storylines and you can even create deadlines for yourself that will sync with your calendar.
Omm Writer aims to provide writers with the perfect creative atmosphere by offering a clutter-free writing space, with just a few “extras” to help set the mood. Select a background, choose your music and get writing.
The audible clicking of your keystroke enables you to hear each letter as it lands on your screen, offering additional encouragement to keep going.
7) One page per day
If writing 50,000 words seems like a herculean task, then perhaps just start off by filling up a single page. Simply log in with your Google or Twitter account and One Page Per Day will present you with a blank page.
Fill it up and you’re done. If you miss a day and then you will receive a gentle reminder to come over and get your page written. Once you get the ball rolling you can ratchet up your daily word count and aim towards your NaNoWriMo goals.
Having trouble getting your novel started? Then Bibisco is the text editor for you.
Not only does it provide you with a space to pen your prose but it will also help you organize your ideas, build your characters, develop your setting and analyze your narrative. And all of these features are completely free and open-source, thanks to Bibisco’s creator, Andrea Feccomandi.
If the internet keeps sucking you in then StayFocused is the gatekeeper that will help keep you out. Available as a Chrome app, StayFocused allows you to block all of those distracting sites that you keep finding yourself on when you should be working on your novel.
10) Character Name Generator
Coming up with the perfect names for your beloved characters is a consuming endeavor that, frankly, you don’t have the time for right now.
Instead, head over to the Character Name Generator and create a whole slew of names with just a few clicks of a button. Each name even comes with a detailed personality, which might help give you some ideas as well.
Feeling uninspired? Get your creative juices flowing by tackling one of the many writing prompts on offer at Plinky. While the site is no longer active the writing prompts are still there, along with the discussions that they generated, which could offer additional fuel for your imagination.
Does the dark road appear to be dangerous, or perilous? Maybe even menacing? When you’re in search of the perfect (ideal… sublime…superb?) word, the Thesaurus is the place to go.
Sounds & Music
Some writers find that playing music in the background helps them to write, while others prefer the sounds of nature. Personally, I can only concentrate if I have complete silence or white noise. Whatever your preference is, there is a tool out there for you.
Get focused with the right background music to help you match your mood or energy level.
Writing a thriller? Then how about some “disturbing” music to help you set the mood? Or perhaps something sweet or sentimental to accompany the writing of your romance novel.
Studies have shown that certain background noises can help increase productivity, such as the murmurs in a coffee shop or library because they distract you just enough to help you become more creative.
At Coffivity you can let your creativity levels soar by tuning into the sounds of a university library or cafe, with a free account. The paid account offers more options such as a Paris Paradise or Brazil Bistro.
Post-NaNoWriMo Bonus Tool!
These two fantastic tools can help you clean up your manuscript once NaNoWriMo has come to an end:
Cliché Finder: Clichés have a tendency to make their way into our writing whether we intend to let them in or not. With the Cliché Finder, you can hunt down those clichés to ensure that your writing is fresh and original.