NaNoWriMo Tools – Part 4: Going Portable

I did a huge percentage of my first NaNoWriMo in 2007 while commuting by train. I did my third one largely on my iPhone with two thumbs and raucous movie soundtracks blaring through the headphones. I was working full time, not living the beautiful, flexible life of a freelance editor with a sense of humor, so I had to squeeze the writing into my schedule where I could. Like a lot of you will! The easy way to go is a laptop, but these days, that’s not the only way to get NaNo done. I started using my iPad and iPhone so much, that I don’t even have a laptop any more! (Mac Mini, since you asked.)

Portability is really big for NaNo, and here are some ways to go about it for your non-laptop portable device… and a couple for the laptop diehards as well!

Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive or other cloud-based file storage service

Just from a back up standpoint, one of these services is a must. My Scrivener file is set to auto-save like every two seconds and it is immediately backed up to Dropbox. From a portability standpoint, these services (potentially) tie into various word-processing solutions. (See below and here.)


This is the one that I use right now to get my Scrivener files portable. It’s a bit tricky to do, but it works well. Here’s a video that Keith made awhile back that describes the process. Please watch it carefully! It’s a hair cumbersome, manual sync, but once it’s set up, it works very well for heavy Scrivener users. One downside is a lack of formatting (plaintext only), but in NaNo, who has time for that anyway? (Another note: they are building Scrivener for iOS as we speak. And when it comes, there will be much rejoicing!)


Ostensibly a note-taking app, it’s cross platform and works nicely with… you guessed it: Scrivener.

Google Drive/Apps

You could just write the whole thing in Google Docs. Works on your computer, phone, tablet, and probably your Xbox360. Downsides? Need internet connection to stay updated, though there is an offline mode for computers.

LogMeIn Free

This is great to use on your work computer. During your lunch break, of course! (Wink, wink.) Why use a stripped-down setup on the go, when you can beam in to your meticulously crafted NaNo mission control? Works great on computers and very well on tablets. Smartphone experience is a bit compromised, but more than doable if a brainwave hits you while on the bus.

A reader clued me into this one, and it looks lovely. You need an internet connection, but Yarny’s desktop web interface is uncluttered and simple to use and they have a free iOS app. It actually reminds me of a web version of Scrivener. You can tag and search, color code, move chunks of text around easily, and more. You can export to plain and rich text, as well as straight to ePub. And it counts words.

So many ways to go portable. How do you do it? Let everyone know in the comments!

(Only one more NaNo Tools post to go, and it’s going to be a fun one. Sorry… it’s a surprise!)