I’m dedicating this week’s Friday Five to the NaNoWriMo crowd. These are the top 5 tools and apps that help me stay focused, organized, and able to meet deadlines. Note – I’m not getting any kind of compensation for endorsing any of these products. I simply find them highly useful:
- Scrivener – I’m going to tell you, Scrivener is totally worth both the price and the half-hour or so it takes to get through the tutorial. It has a built-in notecard outlining system, as well as a more traditional outliner; it has a built-in Notes section so you can make notes on things you’ll need to go back and change or research or add in later, so you can keep going. It has a full-screen text-editor that lets you block out distractions in the background and only see your writing. Best of all–and this really makes it worth the price if you plan to self-publish–it makes creating e-book formats a breeze. Scrivener makes my writing life SO much easier, you guys.
- Write Or Die – I haven’t tried the desktop app, but I use the web version whenever I need to get writing done in a hurry, or need a little extra help staying focused on my writing tasks. It lets you set a word count goal, and a time limit, and then, once you hit start, if you don’t keep typing until the timer goes off there will be consequences. Said consequences range from a red warning light and irritating noise that doesn’t stop until you start typing again, to deleting what you’ve written, one word at a time. Despite the name, death is not an actual consequence, but sometimes I suspect that’s only because they haven’t yet figured out a delivery system.
- Cold Turkey – This program blocks all of your distracting websites for the duration of however long you tell it to do so. I’ve also used the Strict Pomodoro app for Google Chrome to accomplish the same thing, but I like Cold Turkey because it’s not browser-specific and I can’t get around it by simply opening Firefox instead. It’s also a pain in the butt to turn it off once you’ve started it, helping to further insure that you’ll spend your writing time WRITING instead of looking at cat pictures or what have you.
- Simply Noise – Generally, I prefer silence to music when I write, but sometimes the house is noisy enough that I need something to block out the distracting sounds. Enter Simply Noise, an online white noise generator that is simple to use and perfectly fits the bill.
- Pinterest – This one can be tricky, because it’s really easy to fall down a black hole here and spend all day pinning and re-pinning things, so I don’t recommend going anywhere near this site during times when you’re supposed to be writing. But for things like research and world building and inspiration, it can’t be beat. I’ve already started a board for my next novel, where I pin anything I come across that will help to inform or inspire it and help the story and characters take shape in my head.
Oh, and along with Pinterest I also recommend a bonus app – Share As Image, a button you can add to your browser toolbar (right next to your Pin It button!) that will let you convert text into pinnable images, for any web pages you want to pin that lack any pictures that are large enough for the Pinterest button to grab.