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App Review: My Top 3 Writing Apps for NaNoWriMo

Every year, from Nov. 1 to 30, writers of all ages and degrees of aspiration (from hobbyist writing to professional), come together and write with one particular goal in mind: to complete a novel in one month totaling at least 50,000 words. This event is called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

It’s not easy. Trust me, I’ve tried. Even with the events put together by local branches all over the country, I was lucky enough to get out 12,000 words when I made my attempt in 2012. But, if nothing else, the experience of getting together a few times a month to write with some of the quirkiest people I’ve ever met was fun in and of itself. Plus, it gave me the push to start the series I’ve been working on ever since.

Sometimes, however, a serious writer needs more than just the primary offerings of Microsoft Word for their novel, especially if they enjoy not only writing their book but planning it. Here are a few tools I’ve been using to help me with my writing when I do get around to planning the fun of it all.  

Grammarly (grammarly.com)

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a student, in which case, even if you don’t write anything other than essays, you should take a look at this app. It has a free version with which you can test and see if you like the offerings before paying. There is a bit of a cost attached to it, but it’s helped me so much over my years in my essays and personal writing when I need to edit. And, you learn how to improve on your grammar as you continue using it.

For me, it’s definitely worth the Premium. Grammarly Pro also comes with a plagiarism checker and writing checks specific to your genre. There is a browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge for when you’re not using the Windows/Mac desktop apps.  

Novlr (novlr.org)

For all of November, Novlr’s offering a free trial of their services in honor of the annual Internet-based creative writing project. I wish I had more time to write with this app myself. It has so many planning and writing features, including a monthly tracker that recently came out—perfect for November for those wishing to get their 50,000 words in by month’s end.

One beautiful thing I love about Novlr is that it comes with an offline feature. If you’re in a spot with finicky Wi-Fi, and are too determined to keep writing to let the frustrations of technology get in your way, this is just icing on the cake.

These are the other topmost used features available: constant saving, focus mode, writing offline, triple backups, word counts, organize chapters, Google Drive backups, writing statistics, night mode, publish to eBook, and chapter/scene setup.

Of course, with all Novlr has to offer, it’s the most expensive of the writing/organizational tools mentioned here at $100. But you get what you pay for. My only reason for not buying this myself has only been I don’t have time the throughout the year to make me feel like I’ve been writing enough to get my money’s worth.

Scrivener (literatureandlatte.com/scrivener)

I’ve only ever tried the free version of this, but even free, it works well. The only downside to the free version is that you can only use Scrivener on any device up to 30 times. But, if you can shell out the money, it’s not as expensive as Novlr at only $40.

I use this as a sort of outline for my stories, if for nothing else. It’s nice to see the scenes separate from each other, especially when I’m still writing the first drafts. You can move the scenes around instead of bothering with more tedious attempts. I have done this on Word before, and with all that cutting and pasting one does to move pieces around, it becomes risky and frustrating.