Recommended Writing Programs of Nanowrimo Authors

Computer ProgramsNanowrimo is a wonderful month of the year. You join together with other writers to write that novel that has been inside you all your life. One of the other aspects I enjoy about Nanowrimo are the forums at There are a myriad of topics discussed from story adoptions, cafes where you chat with other writers your own age and recommendations about software, hardware, and resources for writers. One thread that caught my eye was about the favorite writing programs used by my fellow wrimos. I will be listing the top five below and giving my opinion about each one. I am not being asked by the company to write a review or paid any money to do so. This is simply my own view on each of the programs.

PC or Mac

Of all the writing programs out there, Scrivener has taken Nanowrimo by storm. The company makes both a Mac and a Windows version of the program, with an iPad version on the way. The program allows you to organize your files in a myriad of ways. You do not have to write from beginning to end as you did the past with word processors and there are plenty of features that make this program ideal for writing novels. One my personal favorites is the project target where it tracks my daily word count and the entire word count of the project. The program does not have an easy learning curve. You will need to ease into the program, grow used to it and explore the hundreds of features to find the subset that works best for your writing style.

If you are a participant of Nanowrimo, you can get a 20% off coupon for the program and if you write the full 50K words and “win”, you will be given a 50% off coupon for the program.

This year, there is a new Timeline program called Aeon that integrates with Scrivener to add to its functionality. If you win at Nanowrimo, there is a discount to purchase the Aeon Timeline program as well.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will realize that Scrivener is my writing tool of choice. In fact, I’m writing this blog post with it. I first learned of Scrivener via my first Nanowrimo and I used my first win to purchase the program the follow year when it finally came out of beta testing.


While YWriter is similar to Scrivener in the way that it organizes your work, it has fewer bells and whistles. For some people this is a positive aspect, making the learning curve of using YWriter much easier. The program is also free to download, which for some makes it a real writing winner! I have a wrimo friend that uses this program for her writing exclusively and really seems to love it. The price is certainly right!

MS Word
Price varies, starts at $99 for student version

MS Word is the old gold standard of writing programs and most writers do have a copy of it on their computers. It is expensive, but because of its universality, it is a program that is recommended to keep in your tool box. A few aspects about Word that make it a little more difficult is that you can’t organize your files in a binder, you must organize them in your computer’s file program. For me, this meant that sometimes my projects got lost. However, I find that as I write professionally, there are times when a client requires the file to be in MS Word. For this reason, I do keep the program on my desktop.

Write or Die
PC, Mac, or Linux

This word processor has a built in timer. When you stop writing, it creates annoying situations to prod you back into writing. Many wrimos love this program because it boosts their word count. It is certainly inexpensive enough and works on many platforms. I have used this program myself and find it fun to use, but I wouldn’t use it as my everyday writing program. It is more something that I pull out for Nanowrimo only.

What is your favorite writing program?

12 thoughts on “Recommended Writing Programs of Nanowrimo Authors”

  1. I am a huge fan of scrivener. As it is right now I do most of my writing on my Ipad (can’t wait till they finally release the ipad app). But I edit and organize with scrivener.

    1. It is my favorite word processor as well, although I do not rough draft in it. I do that in my alphasmart Neo and then upload the words into scrivener. Anyway, thanks for stopping by the blog.

  2. I tried scrivener and read scrivener for dummies and I couldn’t get my head around it when I entered my manuscript into the computer (I write with pen and pad). I love writing in Word (after I learnt styles) and found it easy to keep files with Dropbox. 🙂

    1. Scrivener can be a little overwhelming when you first turn it on. I usually tell new people to the program to use it as they would Word. Break up your chapters into single files, but no more. That way you can see them in the binder and get used to it. Learn to set the project target file and to write an “index card” in the upper corner of the inspector so that if you do switch to index card mode, there will be something there. Otherwise, let the other stuff go. Work on a project or two to get comfortable. Later, you can read how other authors use the program and try out new things one by one. Every author has a different way of doing things, you’ll eventually find the best way for you.

      1. Oh I agree Wendy, it is multi-faceted. I think I will give it a go again when I’m not under pressure and I can take more time to learn it, thanks!

  3. Hi Wendy,

    I’m prejiduced, but i think Now Novel ( is a good tool for Nanowrimo. It helps first time writers get a good outline of their novel

    1. Anyone who reads my blog knows what a huge fan of Scrivener I am. 🙂 There are excellent templates made by various people. I’m often surprised at all the uses people find for the program. It is quite versatile.

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