Hayden's Ferry Review


Arm Yourself. The NaNoWriMo Battle is About to Begin.

If you have any inkling of what NaNoWriMo might mean, you may be among the many preparing to take on the challenge that comes with each November: writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. You might also know that participating in NaNoWriMo can, at times, be equated with going to battle. You know your opponent is coming. You prepare. You lay out tactics and strategies and time your blitzkriegs with care. And most importantly, you arm yourself with the tools and weapons necessary to take down the beast and emerge in magnificent, stinking victory. But if you’re new to this quest for glory, you might think your laptop or notebook and a few thermoses of coffee are the only things you’re going to need. Those, and your lovely lil' imagination. Right? And for veterans, we might be thinking that there are no more appropriable poisons rattling in Pandora’s box. So as we enter into the season of self-flagellation (otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month) take stock of the weaponry below. NaNoWriMo winner? Thy name is conquerer.

Tons of people use and love Scrivener. The bonus to this, versus a traditional writing program, is that you have multiple, combined tools to outline, storyboard, and collect notes and miscellaneous research into a single, searchable location, among tons of other useful stuff. Try downloading the FREE NaNoWriMo trial version, which is good from whenever you start using it until December 7th. After that, winners are rewarded with 50% off the regular price, and if you don’t quite make it, you still get 20% off.

This writing environment is the king of calm. Ommwriter doesn’t even give you the chance to be distracted—it opens in fullscreen mode and there are several backgrounds and audio options to choose from to make your writing environment as good as it can be. The program is available for Mac, PC, and iPad, and their Dana I version is free.

There’s not much worse than being 20,000 words in and losing everything you’ve written. (Trust me. I’ve done this.) To save yourself a heart attack, keep your novel in Dropbox. With 2GB of free storage space, you’ll have plenty of room to let your novel sprawl. The second-worst thing to happen to your writing is saving a crappy version over a version you were happy with. The good news is that you’ve got the failsafe option of retrieving any past versions made in the past 30 days. (These guys. They’re totally on NaNo time.) The other bonus of entrusting your creative genius with these guys is that any time you forget your laptop, you can use any computer or mobile device to access your Dropbox account and keep working without losing a day in your 30-day quest. Want an extra 250MB? Heck yes!

Google+ hangout
Love it or hate it, Google+ has one feature that could be any writer’s saving grace: hangouts. Sure, NaNoWriMo has groups and forums throughout the site, but can you get realtime interaction and reactions to your writing? Try Google+ hangouts to chat with fellow writers all over the globe about plot troubles, dialogue minutiae, and everything else we writers obsess over. Even if you don’t get much productive writing talking done, you just might come up with the next “in your pants” joke.

Your Local Library
Not only could your local library use some love, but many libraries host events for NaNoWriMo. Check this list for Come Write In! events. And if you’re a library staff member, find out more about holding Come Write In! events at your library. Being surrounded by books while writing your own? YEP. I’ll bring the Swedish fish. You bring the coffee.

Piper Writers’ House (Come write with us!)
If you live in Tempe or are passing through, stop in to the Piper house on ASU’s campus for a quiet place to write. Our historical house is full of comfortable couches, tables, and chairs, and if you’re in need of some inspiration, you can wander our resource library or step outside to the writers’ garden. Come write with us Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We might not have the answers to what your main character should do next, but we love a good story.

If you’ve got some secret weapon stashed away, why not share? After all, strength in numbers, right?
Stephanie KeepNaNoWriMo