NaNoWriMo Chronicles: My NaNoWriMo Tool Kit

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Everyone who has something they are passionate about has a tool kit to aid them in that subject. My husband is passionate about his music. He has tools for cleaning his instruments, he has tools for maintaining their sounds, he has tools to alter the sound they naturally create until it’s what he desires, he has tools to practice playing them, he has tools for performing. I don’t play music, but I like to write. I have tools for my writing - especially NaNoWriMo - and I don’t think I would be able to write as much, as often, or as well as I do without them.

So, today I will be going over all of the tools I enjoy using to aid my writing. None of these are paying me to say anything about them, they are all tools that I use personally and love.

1) Notebook

I cannot stress the importance of having a hard copy notebook for my development process. Every work gets its own college ruled, spiral notebook. If it’s a super important work, it will get a fancy one with pockets. I use this to brainstorm ideas out on paper. I will plot things, develop characters, create maps, doodles, if it is pertinent to the story I’m putting in there, it’s in there. If I have a frenzy of idea and need to stash it somewhere (and feel like I can write it out instead of creating a voice memo) I will write it in here. I have been known to hide in my car and do this in parking lots.

2) Pencil/Color-Coded Pens

These go along with the notebook. I require color-coded pens for ensuring that I can spot different themed things easily. Character profiles. Plot points. Maps. World History. All different colors so they are easy to spot when flipping through the pages. The pencil is for the things that I’m not sure of. A character’s name. A location’s name. A loose plot point. These things are all in pencil so I know I’m not married to them when I find something I like better.

3) HiveWord.com

This website is a free tool (it can be upgraded, but I have found that I haven’t needed that yet) that an author can use to organize and store all their thoughts and other things related to their story.

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For my last NaNoWriMo, I used this tool to create my character profiles, sort out the calendar for my world, keep track of my word counts per scene and chapter as I worked through November, and detail my chapters/scenes. The part I love about this tool is that it has a loose list of ideas of what you’ll need to create a story, but is customizable after that. You can create lists of just about anything you want and have it all organized and on the internet so you can access it from anywhere. It’s like writer brain organization magic.

4) Character Profiles

I mentioned that I have these in my notebook and on HiveWord. My character profiles tend to look different depending on how I have decided to create them for that particular work. Usually, I will start them in my notebook. When I have started to create a whole character out of disjointed notes in my hard notebook I will switch to either paper profiles or the profile outline on HiveWord. Before really utilizing HiveWord I did use paper profiles that I grabbed for free off the internet and they worked well. I do still have some paper copies of works I was working on before using HiveWord, and I use them. Although, I have hopes to move them over to being digital copies soon.

5) Laptop

It goes without saying that in order to write a digital copy of a manuscript, character profile, plotline, or anything else, you need a machine of some kind to do so on. This can be anything you can digitally input information, such as a mobile phone, desktop, or tablet. I prefer a laptop. I like to feel the hard click of the keyboard under my fingers, which you tend to lose with a tablet or phone, but I also like the mobility of a laptop. Need to go to a write in? Done. Need to write while waiting for an even to start? Done. I can’t imagine trying to get through a NaNoWriMo without my laptop.

6) Evernote

Evernote is an application that I use not just for my writing, but for everyday use as well. The thing I love about Evernote is that I’m able to place audio notes along with other notes in folders and then access them on any of my devices. The audio note feature is wonderful for those moments when you have a thought you just don’t have time to get down on paper. It’s also great if you are struggling to write something out. Sometimes finding the right words on paper is hard and you just need a moment or two to talk it through out loud and listen to it.

7) Books

Depending on what you are writing, you might find that you need to do some research before you begin. I prefer, if I can, to get a hard copy of a book to read that will offer some advice from more experienced writers. I have several books that offer advice on plotting and editing but found that I was lacking in books on building scenes, and I had never even looked at a book that offered help on writing a mystery/thriller novel. So the two books that I have chosen for this NaNoWriMo offer me help on both of these areas.

I find that sometimes I will use all of these tools to write something, and sometimes I won’t use any of them at all. It really just depends on the work and the tools I feel like I need to accomplish the task of writing that particular manuscript. Hopefully, your interest is peaked on a few of the tools I choose to use in my writing process.

What tools do you use when writing? Do you like to prepare beforehand? Or are you a ‘by the seat of my pants’ type of writer?