How Will You Be Writing Your NaNo Novel? [NaNoWriMo Prep]

I first joined NaNoWriMo in 2008, though I didn’t participate until 2009. NaNo is a website online, so I thought the only way to write NaNo was to write it on the computer, especially since you have to copy and paste your novel onto the website to “validate” the word count.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized not everyone wrote their novels on the computer. Not everyone used Word Document.

Kris was the one who told me that some people handwrote their novels.

Who in their right mind handwrites 50,000 words…? But people do it. And it’s a challenge I wouldn’t mind taking up, though maybe for Camp NaNo with a lower word count. Depending on how big I write, I can write about 250 words a page. I don’t even know how long that takes me, but I do know it takes me an hour to type 2,000 words. So, naturally, I’d rather type for NaNo than handwrite.

But it can be and has been done before.

How do you write during NaNoWriMo?

Word Document

I always type it on the computer because it’s easier for me. I’m able to keep up with my train of thought and I can write more in less time. Word has always been my go-to because that’s just what I grew up with.


Like I said before, I’ve never handwritten a novel for NaNo before. I think it would be a fun challenge that I do plan on trying out some day, but it most likely won’t be anytime soon.

When I used to write fan fiction years ago, I used to write it all in a notebook first. So I’ve certainly filled up my fair share of notebooks with stories and books long before I knew about NaNo. However, I never wrote those stories within 30 days.


I’ve heard good things about Storyist, though I’ve never used it. This is another way to write your novel and I know some people use this for NaNo as well. Not only can you write your novel, but you can take notes, outline, and keep your story organized.


Similar to Storyist, I’ve heard people write their novels this way as well. I’ve never used it, but I believe it’s more or less the same thing as Storyist, except it can be for PC too.

I’ve always wanted to try this (or Storyist), but just never have. I’m too old-fashioned outlining and taking notes in a notebook while I write on Word.

How do you typically write your NaNo novels? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

33 thoughts on “How Will You Be Writing Your NaNo Novel? [NaNoWriMo Prep]

  1. I hop between multiple programs as I hop between multiple computers. Work computers have both Microsoft Word and Notepad, so I have used those. Almost all computers have Notepad, which actually makes it the most convenient program to use if you’re switching between lots of computers (like I do) and don’t know what programs they have.

    I’ve also used Scrivener and I like it, but it is more of an inconvenience right now since I jump between so many computers. Maybe once I’m writing full-time I’ll use it more but possibly not.

    That said, I handwrite a lot of my non-NaNo first drafts. Why not NaNo? Because I write heavy and my hand cramps up and I can’t write more than 800 words a day unless I take several long breaks and don’t have any other plans. I’ve tried. Maybe one day I’ll work up to it – I’d certainly like to – but I’m not there yet. It is, however, my favorite form of writing as I let completely go and just write whatever comes to mind. If I don’t like it, I scratch through it, but it’s always there in case I change my mind later.

    • I know what you mean. My laptop broke (it’s hard to explain, it works, but I can’t close it anymore) so I can’t take it with me to the bookstore or library. I bought a keyboard for my iPad and downloaded Word on there. But it’s still slightly different because my laptop is Dell and my iPad is not. But I have Dropbox, so it’s all good.
      I’m a heavy writer as well. My handwriting is chicken scratch too so that makes it much harder, lol.

  2. I use google docs, simply because I can access it anywhere. And I keep notes in a notebook.

    I did once attempt to handwrite a novel for NaNo, (I think I got to 35k?), which funnily enough is the furthest I’ve ever gotten for NaNo. It was very enjoyable. I got into the zone when handwriting, but it does take much, much longer.

    • I never really got into Google Docs… Word has always been my go-to. But I save it all to Dropbox so I can access it just about anywhere.
      That’s awesome! It does take a while and it’s a challenge I want to try someday. But just not now, lol.

  3. I use a combination of Google docs and Evernote. The former lets me work on a story from other computers and my phone as long as I’m signed in, so that’s where I keep the entire NaNo novel as I’m writing it, and Evernote is just on my laptop and phone but better for writing little bits and pieces down as they come to me so I can copy paste them in to the main doc later.

  4. I never used anything other than Pages , mainly bc I got the computer that I have now, just for writing. I’m just starting out so it is not like I had the chance to try other plataforms just yet. I want to try Scrivener one day. I’ll try my NaNoWriMo using Pages and see how far I can go.

  5. Well, I have never written Nano until now so can’t say much but as far as blogging or articles are considered, I always hand write my first draft and then go to word for second one.

  6. My very first NaNo (maybe my second one too, I don’t remember for sure), I wrote a lot of it by hand. I was writing fanfiction at the time and preferred handwriting by FAR. But both years, I would still type the writing into the computer, thus writing it twice, so that I could verify it. (This was before they suggested using Lorem Ipsum word generators.

    Sometime in there I realized that, as much as I enjoy writing in a notebook, it just wasn’t feasible to keep doing so during NaNo. I still free write in notebooks as much as I can though.

    For the last 3-4 years, I have done the bulk of my typing for NaNo in the web app of the Write or Die website (the old version, not the newer one). I write in 15-20 minute sprints, and then copy and paste what I wrote to Word (or more recently, Scrivener). Write or Die has been my best friend during NaNo for quite some time now. Even during non-NaNo writing, I will sometimes feel frustrated that I can’t get myself to focus, then remember Write or Die, and it works like a charm.

    This year I have acquired an Alphasmart Neo, and I look forward to using it for NaNo. I don’t know if I will use it for the bulk of my writing, or just when I travel, since that’s really the benefit of it. Well, that and the distraction-free part.

    • Wow, good for you fo handwriting your novels. I’ve heard that some people just average their words per page, write something random on the computer, and then copy and paste it a bunch of times in order to “verify” it. But I like your idea of actually typing it up. It’s a lot of work for that one month, but it’s one less thing you have to do later.

      I forgot about Write or Die… I’ve used that a couple of times. When I first heard it, I was intrigued. But it stressed me out, lol. It’s a good program though, I like it.

      I’ve never heard of Alphasmart Neo. Is that similar to Scrivener or something?

      • Yes…if I know I’m going to want my writing on the computer eventually, and I will, it seems just as easy to type it up to verify it.

        The Alphasmart Neo is a portable, word-processing keyboard. I’m really excited to use it this year. It will be much easier to transport than a laptop, and also less distracting.

        • Oh, that’s cool. I just recently bought a keyboard for my iPad because I can’t close my laptop anymore. So I can bring my iPad with me and continue my work.
          Good luck, I hope it works well for you!

  7. I’ve been using Scrivner for the last couple of years during NaNoWriMo and I like how I can easily divide each day in different documents, to visually see how far I have to go. The problem I have with handwriting is that mine is so terrible, especially if I write quickly and I don’t think I would go back later and type it.

    • I didn’t realize you could do that. That would be pretty cool to see it split up like that.
      I always type my handwritten work. I feel like it’s a pre-editing stage. What I handwrite always gets changed slightly or a lot when I type.

  8. I mainly use Scrivener I have it both on my iMac and my Windows Laptop. I keep my files in a box folder that is synced so I can access them from either machine.

    A couple of the most useful tools for me are the daily word target and the cork board. The word target does just what it sounds like it, it keeps track of word counts per session and overall project target, which lets you see how you are gaining on your goals both with an increasing number count and a colored bar. You can have it reset each time you open a project, or reset every 24 hours which is what I do. The cork board is awesome, as it is an electronic cork board with index cards. It is a great visual for keeping track of flow and even pictures for inspiration or research.

    I also use the character folder to keep my character backstories and snippets of notes, easy to reference back to if you are trying to figure out how someone may respond to a situation.

    There are many tools and great things I have yet to use. I am still a relatively new user about 3 months so much to learn still.

    • It amazes me how many tools there are for writers out there. I’ve never heard of cork board, but I do something similar to that. I use my notebooks and tape index cards and post-it notes inside. It keeps it all together for me. Aside from the actual writing, I actually don’t use too many online tools. 🙂

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