I am looking forward to bringing you my NaNoWriMo Tools series. I like tech and clever software, and trying out new toys is a singular joy. Writers need toys too, especially for NaNo. The first thing you need? A word processor that counts words so you know how far along you are at all times, both for each day and overall. There are a bunch of those out there, but some are better than others… especially for NaNoWriMo. (Oh… and I’m a Mac guy, so that will be the emphasis. PC people: please share your favorite word processors in the comments!)
Ah, the old reliable. This works perfectly well: it arranges words, formats them, counts them, is super-familiar and dependable. If you go this route, I’d use one file a day for easy word counting and keep the overall tally in an Excel sheet. (Or keep the tally on a poster you can put the wall of your office. Motivational.) You could also use OpenOffice to the same effect.
If you’d like something simpler – much more stripped down – these aren’t bad options. Sometimes simpler is better (as you’ll see in another entry in the NaNo ‘Tools’ series). Text Edit on Mac and Notepad on Windows are plaintext and rich text editors. TextWrangler is that as well, but also can handle working with HTML. That’s for if you want your NaNo novel to be a multi-media web-stravaganza. And who doesn’t want that??
Google Docs (now Google Drive)
Edit anytime, anywhere, from practically any device. Your NaNo novel in the cloud! As long as you have an internet connection (or figure out how to make offline mode work reliably), you should be good to go. It counts words, and you can keep your overall tally in Google’s Excel equivalent.
This is my tool of choice. I’ve been using it for almost as long as it’s been around. Not only does it handle text amazingly well, it also counts words in well-implemented ways. Keith and co. over at Literature and Latte have built in features that really help with NaNo, including the ability to set writing session targets, manuscript targets, alerts, and even the ability to tweet out your progress and taunt your friends with your 5631-word day! And there’s so much more to Scrivener: it outlines (but remember for NaNo, no too much), allows you to move and edit non-consecutive chunks of text easily, keep research notes, and on and on. It even has a built-in name generator, so you don’t have to waste time grasping for one out of thin air. It’s extremely powerful, but works the way you want to work. And it compiles and exports straight to ePub format… or any other format you can think of, as well as some you haven’t, I’d imagine!
What word processor do you use and why? Let us know in the comments!
Next up: NaNoWriMo Writing Tools to Help You Focus
After that: NaNoWriMo Writing Tools to Get You Organized