NaNoWriMo: Write a Novel in 30 days

National Novel Writing Month kicks off for its tenth year. Entrants (you could be one of them!) commit to completing a 50,000-word novel in one month, completing the effort by midnight on Nov. 30. The rules are simple: start your oeuvre from scratch, meet the the minimum novel length, and submit your entry at the end of the month. That’s about all there is to it.

What a great idea. The writing window for the event is ludicrously short by design. Rest assured that your novel will probably suck, and take solace in the fact that most other entries will equally suck. Who cares? And that’s the point: it’s OK. Just write. A deadline imposed by an outside force may help you to finally start that great work of fiction lurking in the shadows of your mind. Focus on quantity, worry about the quality later. Starting the writing process is often the hardest part, and this yearly event is a clever, fun way to get you started.

So, if you’re up to the challenge, why not try out a couple of writing-focused Mac tools? Here’s a couple of good deals tied to the event:

Scrivener. Download the trial version of this excellent writing tool for a special extended period that runs through Dec. 7 (longer than the usual 30-day trial period). Use Scrivener to research, organize, and write your breakthrough novel. If you reach your 50,000-word NaNoWriMo goal, you can buy Scrivener for 50 percent off the regular price ($40). If you don’t make your goal, but still want to buy Scrivener, take advantage of a 20 percent discount by entering the discount code ‘NANOWRIMO’ in the coupon text field in their online store. Good deal. I’ve used Scrivener since July 2007, and I’m quite fond of it. It’s a great creative writing tool, and adapts well to a variety of research and writing tasks.

Storyist. Here’s another novel-focused app that aims to serve your research, word processing, and storyboarding needs. If you want to buy a copy to help you through NaNoWriMo, you can get 25 percent off the purchase price of the boxed ($79) or download ($59) version of the app by entering the coupon code ‘NANOWRIMO’ in the coupon text field in their online store. If you want to try out Storyist for the duration of NaNoWriMo before you buy, send Storyist a message to get a trial copy that’ll keep working through the first week in December. If you decide to join the NaNoWriMo challenge and can make it to San Francisco for the kickoff event, you can get a free copy of the app. Lastly, Storyist is giving away two Kindles with $50 gift cards for those who raise the most money for the event — similar to a walk-a-thon, you can line up sponsors for your NaNoWriMo effort via if you’re so inclined. Proceeds go to creative writing programs around the world.


  1. Alan, I find Scrivener is useful for research in general, although I tend to use it most of the time for creative writing. It’s a good tool for gathering together a bunch of disparate material, notes, and other chunks of information for a given project. It’s a great tool for outlining and nonlinear restructuring of thoughts, chapters, topics, etc. It’s on my ‘someday’ list of tools I’d like to blog about here, but who knows when I’ll get to that.

    As for the captcha, I really wish I didn’t need it, but I’d have to ditch commenting without it. I have NO IDEA what that second word is in your snapshot! That’s ridiculous. I’m going to look around and see if I can find something better. Meanwhile, there’s a refresh option on the captcha if a given grouping of words is unreadable. You can always refresh until you get one that’s easier to read. That’s one tactic I use. I also always copy my comment before I attempt to submit it, just in case it fails and I need to start again. Easier just to paste it back in. Not ideal, though. Sorry about the trouble, and thanks for taking the time to post a comment despite the annoyances.

  2. I’d love to hear more about how you use Scrivener. Is it only for creative writing?

    (By the way, the captcha are really getting in the way: I got it wrong four times, each time because a letter was so garbled I could not read it. For instance, what is the second word in this snapshot: ?)

    (Or maybe one should not hit “back” to get back one’s comment, it seems that part of the problem comes from there. But having to retype everything is a pain.)

  3. OK, I think I’m going to try this NaNoWriMo thing. I’ve been thinking about it all morning, and the idea of a self-imposed challenge for something I’ve been thinking about for a while really seems attracting.

    (And there is also the strange lure of using yet another beautifully crafted tool… 😉 )

    Thanks for pointing it out!

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