This is how you win NaNoWriMo

Are you signed up for NaNoWriMo? You need these tools to get through the month!

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) takes place every November. Writers sign up to promise to attempt to, well … write a novel in one month. The goal is to write 50,000 in 30 days, which is just under 1,700 words-per-day, on average. There are almost 4.3 million writers signed up with NaNoWriMo this year. With that amount of writing, you need tools to help get you through the month.

For the Mac


Ulysses keeps you focused with a distraction-free user interface. You have plenty of awesome and useful tools at your disposal, but when it comes to writing time, you can clear your mind and your page, and focus on what matters.

It’s design is not entirely unlike Apple’s built-in Mail app, which gives you a sense of familiarity and comfort as soon as you open it for the first time. Everything you need is accessible from a sidebar, which can be hidden out of site while you write.

There is an iOS version of Ulysses, so you can sync between your Mac and your iPhone or iPad and work on the go, which is imperative for writing nearly 2,000 words every day.

The creators of Ulysses, The Soulmen, support the effort to write a whole novel in just one month, and so is offering a special deal for NaNoWriMo. The free trial is fully functional, including iCloud syncing with the paid iOS app, and is good through December 7.

Download from the Mac App Store


Scrivener is the professional’s writing tool. It is bursting at the seams with features, including really nice brainstorming and researching tools. You can add virtual index cards to a cork board to help you navigate your first draft. There is a section where you can keep research documents close at hand for quick access. It comes with half-a-dozen templates for different types of documents, including screenplays, novels, short stories, scripts, and more. It has everything a writer needs to prepare for the month-long journey into writing the best first-draft of a novel.

Scrivener’s developer, Literature and Latte, is a proud sponsor of NaNoWriMo, and to celebrate this writer’s month, the company is extending the trial period for the Mac app through December 7. After the trial ends, NaNoWriMo Winners (you have to finish the 50,000-word goal) can download the full version for 50% off. Non-winners can still get it at a discount of 20% off.

Download from the Mac App Store

iA Writer

iA Writer, another official sponsor of NaNoWriMo, is a clean, simple text editor that helps you stay focused by completely hiding the tools from view while you work. It is like typing with a typewriter. In fact, there is actually a “typewriter mode.” It supports Markdown and shows you a live preview while you work. The intention of iA Writer is to be uncluttered with tools, but there are plenty of them anyway. Full screen mode completely immerses you in your work so you aren’t able to distract yourself with outside influences. Typewriter mode scrolls along as you write, so that your current sentence is at the center of our attention. Focus mode hides what you’ve written so far, with everything but your current sentence dimmed out. You can check how many words and characters you’ve written, and see how long you’ve been working with the status tool, and Night Mode is easy on the eyes if you’re working in the dark. If you tend to get off track easily, iA Writer is a low-cost writing app to take you where you need to go.

Download now

For the iPhone and iPad

Scrivio Pro

If you use Scriviner on the Mac, you’ll be pleased to know that Scrivio Pro was specifically designed to work with your projects. It has many similar tools and allows you to import content via Dropbox or iCloud. It also features an extra row of keys on the virtual keyboard so you can quickly access formatting styles and punctuations. There is a cursor on the keyboard, which lets you move around on the text without having to tap the screen. It also keeps track of your writing stats like word and character counts, as wells as line counts, average words per sentence, and reading time. It is the perfect companion app to users of Scrivener on the Mac.

Download now

iA Writer

Just like iA Writer for the Mac, the mobile version facilitates a clean, focused way of writing. You can pull up full-screen mode, scroll with typewriter mode, or dim everything but the current sentence in focus mode. It features basic stat tracking, like word counts, and comes with a handy syntax tracker so you can keep an eye on how well you are structuring your sentances. It is also very handy for writers that work in Markdown, which you should not be doing while writing your novel, but can do when dealing with your other writings. If you use iA Writer on the Mac, this is the companion app you need to keep you writing, even when you are on the go.

Download now

Rough Draft

If you find yourself going back over your work, again and again, fixing little mistakes or rewriting sentences, you’ll never make it though November with a finished novel. Rough Draft helps train you to stop fixing mistakes and just write. Instead of deleting, the app strikes through words and sentences so you don’t spend too much time tweaking your thoughts. You can add tags to spots on the page as a reminder to add pictures or other content later. You can create and add sticky notes to your work to help you brainstorm your ideas. If you want to get your thoughts out and don’t want to be tempted to perfect each word, use Rough Draft to get you writing, fast.

Download now


In addition to the perfect writing app, you need the perfect writing tools. If you don’t feel comfortable with your writing spot, you’ll never be willing to sit down for hours at a time, every day, for 30 days. So, make sure you have the right keyboard before it’s too late.

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What is NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is a non-profit organization that works to bring awareness about the importance of writing. When you join, all you are agreeing to is an attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. You don’t have to finish your book. It doesn’t have to be good at all. In fact, it should be pretty bad because this is just your first draft.

As you write, you submit your daily word count to your own, private dashboard. This helps you keep track of how far you’ve gone and how much you will have to write every day in order to keep up with your goal. You can chat with NaNoWriMo community members and get motivation from others. It isn’t too late to sign up. You might have a few days of extra writing to do, but if you are inspired, you’ll be surprised at how fast the words come.

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