NaNoWriMo is almost upon us! I, for one, am terribly excited and fully prepared. For freaking once. I solicited the help of some slick digital tools to get here, and I thought I’d take a moment to share them with you. I’m a long-time Mac user, so many of these apps/programs are Mac only, but I’ve also included non-Mac alternatives.
No. 1 - The mother of all Markdown programs: Ulysses III
Ulysses III is flipping amazing because it’s damn simple, drop-dead gorgeous, and loaded with useful features without having an obscene learning-curve-to-productivity ratio. As in, you can open it up and start writing without having to read a novel-length instruction manual first (unlike Scrivener). You just start typing, and the rest is intuitive and optional. Best of all, it saves every keystroke automatically and instantly. Export directly to MS Word, .PDF, HTML, ePub, and Markdown. There’s currently a 30-day, full-featured trial for NaNo! I HIGHLY recommend checking out this app if you have a Mac. You'll never write in MS Word again! (Approx. $50 but occasionally goes on sale for half off.)
Non-Mac alternative: Nothing quite this awesome, but try Write Monkey. (free)
No. 2 - The simplest app of all: Grandview
Grandview does one simple thing: provide you with a full, blank screen to display each bold, beautiful letter you type. It then shows each word and finally the entire sentence you've written before you move on to the next. You can customize colors and fonts, and you can “zoom out” to see your entire document. You can turn cursor blinking on and off and disable backspace, and that’s it. That’s what makes it beautiful and amazingly productive. ($5)
Non-Mac alternative: ilys (free)
A program right in-between these two would be iA Writer. I use it for the distraction-free writing of one-shot documents. Not the greatest for longer stuff, but it is THE idiot-proof, distraction-free writing app. ($5-$10)
No. 3 - Dropbox
So I can save my files to the cloud and access them at work as well as at home. Enough said, right? There’s always iCloud, but I use Windows at work, and I like Dropbox better. Ulysses also syncs to it, and it doesn’t get any better than that. (free)
Alternative: Google Drive (free)
No. 4 - DayMap Lite
DayMap is a free scheduling app I found that’s perfect for creating a novel outline and then scheduling which scenes to write each day of NaNo. Pretty simple and highly useful for those of us (like me) who need everything planned out with no room for error so they won’t end up watching Netflix all day. (free)
Non-Mac alternative: Nothing exactly like this, but give Google Keep and Google Calendar a try. (Both free, of course.)
No. 5 - Progress journaling: One Day
One Day is a beautiful and intuitive journaling app perfect for keeping track of writing ideas and novel progress. ($10) I also started a tumblr to share my non-private NaNo progress here: dreamcasterproject.tumblr.com
Alternative: Journal (free)
No. 6 Extras:
Scapple is a sort of mind-mapping/whiteboard app great for organizing ideas. I haven’t used it that much yet, and I’m not sure if I’ll end up buying it, but you should definitely check out the 30-day free trial if you’re looking for something of the sort. (Works on Windows and Mac - $15.)
Soundrown.com has 10 background noise sounds that are all super awesome, but the recording of fire is my favorite. You can even play multipul sounds at once with variying volumes. (free)
Pandora.com ... duh. Gotta have me some smooth jazz.
RescueTime is an app the runs in the background and logs how much time you spend in individual apps and on individual websites. It’s useful and terrifying to see how much time you spend doing certain things. You can also set what’s distracting and what’s productive, and it will email you a productivity score at the end of the week. Super useful and motivating stuff. (Free for Mac and Windows.)
SelfControl is an app that lets you set up a blacklist of websites you can then block for however long you want. You can’t get back onto said websites until the timer runs down, not even if you restart your computer or delete the program. Terrifying but extremely useful. You can also set a white list, which will only allow you onto the specific websites of your choosing. (Free for Mac.)
Chrome extension alternative: StayFocused (free)
Check out more Windows and Mac productivity tools here.
And that’s a wrap. What digital writing tools/apps/programs do you use and find the most helpful and productive? Also, let me know if you’re looking for a program with specific functions. I keep up with this kind of thing fairly well and might know of something that could help. :aww:
Good luck to all you fellow NaNo participants! Bye for now.
P.S. I'm making a list of all my favorite analogue writing tools! I'll post it before NaNo starts this weekend.