November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo.org offers a wealth of free resources for anyone who has ever dreamed of writing a novel – and they’re available all year, not just in November.
Since today is November 8, I’m obviously not inviting you to join this year’s push to write an entire novel by November 30 (but go ahead and try if you want to!).
In honor of NaNoWriMo, The New York Times recently wrote an article that’s full of digital resources for novelists: “Ready. Set. Write a Book.” Go to https://nyti.ms/2WpW7Hq.
I’m not a novelist, and I obviously haven’t tried the tools for mapping a plot and developing characters. But I did try Scrivener – software that helps you organize content for any writing task. And I gave up on it very quickly.
You might get the idea that I’m against writing software. No, no, no! Friends who have tried some of those programs say that they’re a huge help.
But I want to point out that you have to figure out what works for you – and stick to it (even at the risk of looking like a dinosaur).
The system I developed in graduate school – notecards, photocopies, and blue or pink legal pads – would probably evoke laughter from writers who efficiently organize tons of information on Scrivener. (You should see the table where I do my writing. On second thought – no, you shouldn’t!)
Scrivener is tidier, but I found it slow and cumbersome. The book I’m writing now (about Shaw’s play Major Barbara) had so many categories that I could never find the quotation I wanted. All those headings and boxes made writing harder for me.
My old system – thumbing through a deck of index card notations and pawing through stacks of legal pads – is admittedly a hit-or-miss way to tackle a writing task. But it works for me.
Do look at the digital tools out there. But don’t feel guilty if they don’t work for you!