Computer Applications for NaNoWriMo

Your computer already has what you need to be a winner during November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Use these six computer applications (apps) to keep your progress constant at about seven pages per day.


Use single spreadsheet cells to briefly describe each main event from your story. On the line below each event skip over to the next column and add any supporting details. Having a story roadmap is the best insurance against delays on your NaNoWriMo journey. OpenOffice has a free spreadsheet.

Text Editor

You probably have several word processing programs. For NaNoWriMo use the simplest among them especially if it offers full screen mode. Turn off the spelling and grammar checkers. Say no to touching the mouse or using the backspace or delete keys. You may see an easy edit that tempts you; it will be just as easy after November 30. If your simplest text editor does not have full-screen mode, pick up a free app like Isolator.


To remember that edit, use a notes app that resides in your menu bar like Scrawl or just off the side of the screen like SideWriter.


Keep track of plot points by dropping new events into your calendar app, pretending that your story takes place this year. Use a calendar that resides on your computer instead of an internet-based app.


Find a way to keep automatic local backups of your November writing. If your computer or text editor will not do this, use a kitchen timer that will remind you to store a copy of your work every half hour.


Turn off your internet during November. The only time you should use a web browser or email is for daily check-ins on Book-in-a-Week days and for periodic updates of your word totals to NaNoWriMo. Facebook, Twitter, and the NaNoWriMo social pages can be distractions.

Keep up the momentum. Never look back. Make up any shortfall in your page goals on the next day. You are on your way to becoming a NaNoWriMo winner and these simple computer applications can help.

Don Cram, writer

Don Cram and his wife, Carol, live in a suburb of Albuquerque, New Mexico near their four adult children and grandchildren. Don and Carol teach in neighborhood schools where they are known as educational innovators. Carol with iPad use in the classroom and Don with multimedia iBooks for his students to use. Don has written articles for education journals and has been a popular speaker. He is currently writing a series of fiction books based on the adventures of three sisters: the oldest in Romantic Adventures, the middle sister in Paranormal Romance, and the youngest in Young Adult Speculative Fiction. Don has degrees in science, theology, and education.

This article first appeared in 9/30/2013 on the Book-in-a-Week website.

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