NaNoWriMo Week – Beginner Tips

For writing enthusiasts, the end of October only means one thing – NaNoWriMo is about to begin! NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual creative writing project where participants are challenged to write 50000 words during the month of November.


The site is where the challenge takes place, but you’re free to use any software to do your writing before uploading it there. Given the difficulty of the challenge and how time-consuming it is, we can’t think of a better way to kickstart your project and keep up with your goals than on your Android device. After all, it’s always with you and can help you through every step of the way.

That’s why during this whole week, we’ll take an extensive look at the creative process, starting with a few general tips, then collecting and organizing ideas, mapping the storyline, using different onscreen and hardware keyboards, writing and editing the text, keeping up with your goals, and always syncing everything between phone, tablet, and computer. By the end of the week, you’ll be fully prepared and ready to tackle NaNoWriMo.

Tip 1: Share With the Experts

Whether this is your first NaNoWriMo or you’re a veteran, it’s always good to check the NaNoWriMo forums. That’s where all your fellow colleagues share their tips and tricks for keeping the creative juices flowing and for using different technologies to help with the process. There’s even a section dedicated to music recommended by others for your writing sessions. It’s also where you can get help if your plot is stuck in a deep hole, and where you can find abandoned projects and move them forward.

Tip 2: Get a Thesaurus and Dictionary

Unless you’re a Literature major, you most likely tend to repeat words often, or get stuck looking for the perfect synonym that conveys your thoughts, or you might want to make sure the word you’re using fits in that context. A dictionary and a thesaurus are essential to always have in such cases. On Android, Advanced English & Thesaurus is a Wordnet-based app that you can cache for offline use, and gives you access to the most-trusted online dictionary and thesaurus.

Tip 3: Check Out “My Writing Spot”

While throughout this week we’ll look at several apps that are perfectly adapted for each step of the creative process, there’s one app you could use to do everything — albeit in a less optimal manner. My Writing Spot lets you type text, look out definitions, manage tasks, quickly jot down ideas, and keep up with your word count. It’s not ideal, and the design is very dated, but it gets everything done and syncs back with the My Writing Spot web app, iPhone and iPad apps.

My Writing Spot’s word count and built-in dictionary

Tip 4: Find the Apps That Suit You

We will cover different apps during the next week, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking for alternatives that suit you better. After all, writing is a personal and involved process, and there’s no app to fit everyone. We all have specific requirements in keyboards, mind-mapping, writing, and sync’ing apps, and Android is mature enough to offer several options in each category. For example, while we will talk about Simplenote for keeping your writing in sync between different devices, you should also keep Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote in mind.

Tip 5: You Can Write Anywhere, Anytime

Back in 2008, I was participating in a short story writing contest, and I had no free time to dedicate to the actual writing. I was fast-walking every morning for 40 minutes, so I decided to use that time for writing even though I had a Nokia 3250 XpressMusic, a 12-keypad smartphone with a ridiculously small screen and only T9 as an efficient text-entry method. That didn’t stop me from finishing a 13-page short story in less than three weeks. Actually, it turns out that moderate exercise helps the blood flow to the brain, and can really let you focus more!

Ever since then, I’ve written several 10000-word stories on my Nokia N97 Mini and Desire Z, and I’m now in the process of trying the same on my new Galaxy S3. I’m not sure I can be as fast or as efficient on a touchscreen as I was on a hardware QWERTY device, but I’m getting better. And best of all, I can write whenever I have a bit of free time. Back in the day, I used to wait until I was in front of my computer, or had a bit of privacy with a pen and a paper to be able to write. Now I’m no longer riddled by those limitations. Technology really is a wonderful thing and you should make use of it.

Now that you’re ready to get started, follow us for the rest of the week for in-depth reviews, roundups and editorials, all related to NaNoWriMo. And if you’re participating, or if you have tips and favorite apps that you use for writing on Android — whether fiction or not — do share them with us.