What Is the Best Writing App for NaNoWriMo?

Do you have the first 1667 words of your novel on a Google Doc? A note on your phone? Or maybe you spent the first day of NaNoWriMo meticulously arranging an empty plan in Scrivener? Here are some of the writing utensils that amateur novelists swear by.


Scrivener is more than just a text editor ; it is also a tool for organizing chapters or even snippets of text. I know a freelance employee who writes her entire article in one giant Scrivener folder. It is a powerful tool with many NaNo-friendly features such as word counting per chapter or project-wide.

It’s $ 40 for Windows, $ 45 for Mac, but there’s also a 30-day free trial to help you get you all the way through NaNo. The NaNoWriMo website also has coupon codes : one you can use now with a 20% discount and the other is for the winners only – you have to write 50,000 words to get this – with a 50% discount.

Google documents

A novel written in a Google Doc can be accessed anywhere, even from your phone. Here’s how commentator Stuart FitzWilliam uses it :

Write or die

I discovered this during my first NaNo, and has since expanded from a simple free tool to a fully functional torture machine that you can pay to maintain. To use Write or Die , you choose time or word count as your goal – I like doing 10 minutes, which gives me over 500 words – and nothing much happens if you don’t stop writing.

Then it gets bad.

By default, for about ten seconds after the last key press, the screen turns red and your speakers play very annoying music. Start typing again and the punishments will disappear. Additional features include a mode that rewards rather than punishes you by playing soothing ocean waves while you write, and a stricter kamikaze mode that deletes your words if you stop typing.

What writing tools do you use with this NaNoWriMo, and what are their pros and cons? I started writing my novel when I was one year old on an antique Underwood typewriter, but I ditched it because I wanted to write with friends in a cafe, and it was by no means portable. This year I went back to google documentation. And you?


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