30 (Free) Writing Apps To Help You Through Every Stage of NaNoWriMo (2023)

30 (Free) Writing Apps To Help You Through Every Stage of NaNoWriMo (1)

In the early days of NaNoWriMo, it wasn’t rare to see cavemen scrawling their 50,000-word books all over cave walls. It’s a bit better for authors now, of course, but NaNoWriMo is still a 30-day grind and we can use all the power-ups that we can get. Luckily, we’re in the 21st-century now, and technology is your friend.

That said, there’s a sea of writing apps out there, and it takes time to figure out which are good and which are not so great. So we’ve done all the digging for you to save you the research. Here are the 30 most useful apps to get you past every stage of NaNoWriMo. The best part? They’re all free.

Before a single word is even committed on paper, authors go through a ton of back-breaking work: thinking, organizing, plotting, researching, and perfecting the seed of their idea. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps ready to give you a boost, every step of the way! So, are you:

Looking to get inspired?

Day One

For anyone who’s tired of scribbling down story ideas on the crinkled corners of tablecloths, Day One is a journaling app for iPhones, iPads, and Macs. It enables you to journal-on-the-go and even gifts you with a number of free features while you’re at it, including: a clean interface, syncing, photo imports, reminders, and metadata functionalities.


“Light, clean, and free,” is the way that Simplenote markets itself — and it’s true! The best stories can start from the smallest of ideas, and Simplenote is one of the simplest ways to make sure you’ve got them all jotted down. Plus, all your notes are backed up and the search function means that you can find old notes whenever you want to pull them up again.

Mercury Reader

Neil Gaiman’s #1 tip for aspiring writers is: “Read everything you can lay your hands on. Read the ‘classics’ in whatever areas of writing you want to work in so you know what the best points are. Read outside your areas of comfort, so you know what else is out there. Read.”

So, if you ever want to better the reading experience on your computer, we recommend Mercury Reader: a Chrome extension that can streamline any webpage for you. Even Craigslist.

Storyboarding your book?


You say, “Trello,” we say, “Hel-lo.” Because Trello is incredibly useful. It’s a project management app that’s infinitely flexible: you can use it as a virtual corkboard to structure your manuscript, for instance. Or you might see it as a task manager to keep track of what scenes you plan to write next. Whatever you decide to do with it, all you need to do is move your “cards” around to get started organizing your book.


WorkFlowy is a way to “organize your mind.” Put simply, it’s a neat app that makes outlining easy. Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson (co-founders of Slack) and Ev Williams (founder of Medium, Twitter, and Blogger) are fans of it — and writers can use it to outline their whole novel or bullet-point a particularly tricky plot point. Simply start from the big picture and work your way down until your ideas crystallize into a story.

(Video) FREE Writing Software For Authors | Writing Apps, Word Processors


Ever wonder if your plot points actually make sense, or if one story idea can connect to another story idea? Well, a mindmap is a visual way of examining the potential relationships between things. Luckily, one of the best mind-mapping technologies is free: Coggle allows you to color-code paths and make really pretty diagrams without any effort at all.

“The time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”

Agatha Christie

Trying to get some research done?


Every writer should know Evernote, because Evernote is pretty damn effective. Beat Buhlmann, the General Manager of Evernote EMEA, once even managed to write a whole novel in Evernote. For most of us, though, Evernote remains a note-taker on steroids. It proves its worth during the “research” phase of a novel: you can clip quotes from the Internet, record audio notes, set up tags, share notebooks — all for free!


Smush Evernote and Pocket (an online bookmarking app that allows you to save articles for the future) together and you’ll get Diigo. This app allows you to save webpages and annotate them for research. It’s basically a web-based, simpler version of Evernote that still manages to store all your bookmarks for you.


Ever need to know what the weekly petrol price in Malaysia is? Or what the number of reported Lyme cases in Europe was in, say, 2002? If you want your book to be grounded in reality, you’ll need to do your research. Head over to Quartz’s Atlas, which is one of the most useful sites for statistical facts (and random but fascinating charts) out there, storing data on almost every topic you can imagine.

“The road to Hell is paved with works-in-progress,” said Philip Roth — and we’d wager that the distractions of the 21st century are its road signs. To meet your word count goal, sometimes you need to turn off everything else and just write. So say goodbye to Instagram! Ditch Facebook! Twitter? What’s that?

The common thread in the following apps is that they’re all distraction-free writing processors. They’ll provide you with what you need to write 1,666 words a day — just you and a blank page.


FocusWriter is one of the more popular distraction-free word processors out there. There aren’t too many formatting and editing functionalities (though there are timers, themes, statistics, and a spell-check) — but the simple point of FocusWriter is to enable you to write. If you just need a blank page and nothing else, this is a solid choice.


WriteMonkey is a sleek and deceptively powerful option if you want to do some distraction-free writing. Its full-screen interface is spartan and devoid of any toolbars unless you know what keys to press. At the bottom of the screen is everything you need to get your writing done: a word counter and a tiny clock. WriteMonkey can be run from a USB stick since it’s a portable app, and you can use keyboard shortcuts to access every command you might need. (Seriously, everything.)

(Video) all the writing tools and software i'll be using EVERY DAY during NaNoWriMo!


As its Cnet review says, “Q10 is small, fast, and gets out of your way.” It’s a neat writing app that comes with just a couple of bells and whistles: in particular, timed writing sessions, if that’s something that’ll get your writing going.


Write! is a relatively new entry in the field. It’s basically a glorified Notepad for both Windows and Mac, and some of its best functionalities include auto-saving, offline editing, and different themes. A pretty big downside: many of its features are free for only a trial period.


yWriter is a distraction-free writing processor that was built specifically with writers in mind. And you can tell: everything about it is based on novel structure. You divide projects into chapters, and chapters into scenes. Tabs also specify characters, items, and other notes for quick, cross-indexed reference to story assets and other research you might’ve conducted.

Honorable Mentions

Honorable mentions go out to Cold Turkey (which forcibly turns your computer into a typewriter until you reach your writing goal), and Calmly Writer (which offers a “focus mode” option that only shows you the paragraph you’re writing.) Whatever works to push you over your word count goal!

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”

William Faulkner

Now we’ve reached the main event! This is when making the most of every ounce of productivity counts. Do you want to:

Fight writer’s block?


Unstuck is that friend that’ll come to your aid when you’re facing down one of NaNoWriMo’s most-feared enemies: writer’s block. This free iOS app will 1) try and determine the root of your writer’s block, and 2) come up with a range of solutions to get you writing again. If you need a bit of a boost, Unstuck will also work with you to create workable daily goals that’ll make 50,000+ words seem achievable again.


Who doesn’t adore a good coffee shop? Cofftivity (our educated guess is that it comes from a cross between “coffee” and “productivity”) allows you to take the sounds of the coffee shop with you wherever you go. So if ambient background noise is what floats your writing boat, you’ll want to give this app a whirl.

750 Words

750 words is around 3 pages: the exact amount that this app urges you to write every day. It offers some nice supplements to keep your motivation up: a statistics board that reveals your writing speed throughout the day, for instance, and a point system that resets every month. For NaNoWriMo, you’ll be aiming to write around 1,500 words a day, so this app can definitely get you over the mid-way mark.

(Video) Preptober Tips! | Do These 10 Things Before NaNowriMo

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”

Isaac Asimov

Perfect your prose?


Simple but powerful, this online website can tell you which words you overuse the most in your writing. Do you mention that your protagonist’s eyes are “gray and stormy” one too many times? Does the word “interesting,” pop up 15 times in one chapter? Let wordcounter.com catch it all for you.

Cliché Finder

The Cliché Finder (believe it or not) finds clichés. To you, clichés might be no big deal — but to others, they stick out more than a sore thumb. Since we usually type out clichés in blissful ignorance, too, this is a nifty free app that can really tighten up your writing. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Reverse Dictionary

When a word just refuses to budge from the tip of your tongue, turn to Reverse Dictionary. It’s a free, powerful service that’ll try and plug the void in your vocabulary: all you need to provide is the general concept that’s on your mind. Let’s say, for example, that you want a word for “urge to travel.” Enter it and you’ll get served a bunch of potentially relevant options, from “wanderlust” to “drapetomania.”

Proofread as you go?


“Google Docs exists,” you might say, “So why Draft?” Well, its powerful editing functionalities sets Draft apart. Like Lightroom, which can display two edited photographs side-by-side, Draft can make it easier for you to compare two marked-up drafts by showing you both versions at once. And you get to ask a team of professional copy-editors for suggestions while keeping a master copy of your document at all times.

Diff Checker

Diff Checker does exactly as promised: check the differences between two documents. It’s a savior for anyone who’s cycling through drafts and forgets which changes they made on which draft.


You’ll find this app on many writing guides. That’s because it’s great at what it does. As a virtual proofreader, Hemingway is beyond valuable. It points out too-complex sentences and makes your writing clear, concise, and bold. (Like its namesake’s famous writing style). The desktop software is now $20, but the web app continues to be free.


This app is another one that you’ll find in almost every writing guide. Grammarly is a powerful, do-it-all proofreader for the 21st-century: not only can it spot grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors in context, it can suggest style improvements. Best of all, it catches all your typos as you write, so that you won’t end up spilling embarrassingembarassing mistakes every where u go.

(Video) 5 TIPS TO WIN NANOWRIMO 2022 🏆 (how to write a 50K novel in 30 days) | podcast ep.16

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Anton Chekhov

It’s December 1 — and you’ll probably want to reach into the cabinet and break open the wine right about now. But before you get too drunk celebrating, you should ask yourself: now what? How are you going to go about approaching this story into which you’ve put so much work for a month? Check out what the next couple of apps can do to polish off your story and turn it into a beautiful book.



Quetext is a free plagiarism detection tool. It’s naturally intended for academic use, but aspiring novelists can use it to make sure that they didn’t accidentally mindmerge with a famous author and steal a sentence from some other book.


Is there a worse realization than, “Well, my computer just crashed and everything’s gone, including the 50-page draft that I’ve been working on for the past 15 days“? If there is, we’re afraid to even contemplate it. To avoid this unfortunate situation altogether, there are a bunch of back-up services out there for you (Dropbox is the most obvious one, but iCloud is also an option.) In any case, it doesn’t really matter which site you use. Dear God, just back up your documents whenever you can.

All-in-one writing programs

Reedsy Book Editor

Disclaimer: we’re the team behind this software and we spent quite some time on it, so we’re a bit biased. But we can confidently say that this is the best app for folks who want to present something tangible at the end of NaNoWriMo: a beautiful book. The Reedsy Book Editor is a web-based book writing software, created by and for writers. In a nutshell, it makes it easy to typeset text from word processors, create copyright notices, and export with compatible platforms — all within a matter of minutes. So if you want to create a professional-quality book out of your NaNoWriMo product, this book editor is a free option that you’ll want to give a whirl.

Google Docs

If you’ve been camping out under a rock in the middle of Siberia for the past decade or so, then allow us to introduce you to Google Drive and its suite of applications. These include Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets, which function as the web-based equivalents of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. But what makes Google Docs so darn useful is its collaborative functionalities: multiple people can view and edit a document — at the same time!

Now it’s just up to you to write the great story inside of you. We hope that you’ll pull that off spectacularly, armed these writing apps at your side. If you’ve got any more free writing apps to add to this collection, please feel free to share with everyone in the comments!

One of The Writing Cooperative’s top contributors just released a book. We’d like to thank her for her contributions by promoting her book. Please check it out!

30 (Free) Writing Apps To Help You Through Every Stage of NaNoWriMo (2)


What's the best free app for writing a book? ›

Best Free Online Writing Tools to Write a Book
  • Google Docs.
  • Kindle Vella.
  • Scrivener app.
  • Milanote.
  • Pomodoro Timer.
  • Ulysses app.
  • Cliché Finder.
  • yWriter.
19 Jul 2022

How do you write a novel in NaNoWriMo in 30 days? ›

More NaNoWrimo Tips

Get into a routine and begin writing at the same time each day. Make sure that you write every day. Try not to edit as you go, or at least keep it to a minimum. Ask your Inner Editor to stand aside during the thirty days it takes you to write your novel.

How much does NaNoWriMo write a day? ›

NaNoWriMo Words Per Day

So, at minimum, you should be writing 1,667 words a day, or approximately 11,700 words a week. At minimum, you should be writing 1,667 words a day, or approximately 11,700 words a week.

Is there a free writing app? ›

Scrivener (Free Trial) MS Notepad and Mac TextEdit. Hemingway Editor. Portent's Idea Generator.

What app do most writers use? ›

Professional writers use a variety of apps to write their novels. Scrivener, MS Word, Final Draft, Google Docs, Plottr — there are so many great apps that bestselling writers use for their writing process.
Other Free Writing Apps:
  • LibreOffice.
  • yWriter.
  • FocusWriter.
  • Reedsy Book Editor.
  • Apple Pages.
  • MS Notepad.
24 May 2022

How can I finish my novel fast? ›

How to Write Faster: 10 Effective Strategies to Finally Finish Your Book
  1. Write Every Day. I know, I know, this is the obvious choice. ...
  2. Schedule Brief Typing Practice Sessions. For ten minutes a day I practice typing. ...
  3. Use Proper Sitting Posture. ...
  4. Buy a Standing Desk. ...
  5. Create a Book Outline. ...
  6. Challenge yourself.

How do you succeed in NaNoWriMo? ›

(For free NaNoWriMo tip sheets and downloads, click here.)
30 Tips for Writing a Book in 30 Days
  1. Embrace a new mindset. ...
  2. Answer yes. ...
  3. Do the math. ...
  4. Plan to make sense. ...
  5. Just start—and keep going. ...
  6. Go all in. ...
  7. Always end a writing session only when you know what's next. ...
  8. Don your painter's smock.
6 Oct 2015

How do you complete a book in 30 days? ›

How to Write A Book in 30 Days (Even if You've Never Written Anything Before)
  1. Tell People About It. ...
  2. Quantity Over Quality. ...
  3. Stop Writing When You're in the Middle of Something. ...
  4. Reward Yourself With Snacks. ...
  5. Commit to Writing Sprints and Mini-Deadlines. ...
  6. Find Other People to Write With. ...
  7. Keep Reading.
18 Oct 2021

How long does it take to write 1667 words? ›

The typical daily goal is 1667 words per day, or about 6.68 pages.

Does NaNoWriMo have to be fiction? ›

The only concrete goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words of fiction that presumably becomes a novel. (You can write a short story collection or non-fiction or something else.

Does NaNoWriMo have to be in November? ›

Rules. Since NaNoWriMo is used to get people writing, the rules are kept broad and straightforward: Writing starts at 12:00: a.m. on November 1 and ends 11:59:59 p.m. on November 30, local time.

What is a fast draft writing? ›

Fast-drafting is quite literally the process of writing the first draft of your novel (or short story, novella, etc.) as quickly as possible. No hesitation, no excuses, no editing-as-you-go. That said, fast-drafting won't be the right technique for every writer.

Is Werdsmith free? ›

Werdsmith is a free mobile app that "turns your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch into a portable writing studio, so you can write any time, any place." You can categorize ideas and projects, track word counts and writing time, and formulate novels, screenplays, poems, and more.

Is Ulysses app good? ›

To sum up, we think Ulysses is worth it, but before rushing to a decision, you should make sure that you really need to use its extra features, and that there's no other cheaper app that can offer you the features you need, but other than that, Ulysses is good value for money!

Is there an app to help you write better? ›

Grammarly is a writing assistant. We provide clear, constructive writing suggestions that work where you work, enabling better understanding between people. Our products can help you with grammar, spelling, punctuation, conciseness, clarity, readability, and more. Write with confidence.

Why can't I write fast? ›

People tend to grip their pen or pencil too hard, especially when trying to write quickly. The problem is that doing this slows you down, and causes your hand to tire. The best way to avoid this is to consciously check up on yourself while you write, and make sure that you're not gripping the pen too hard.

How fast can I read a 400 page book? ›

The average reader will read 400 pages in 11.1 hours when reading at a speed of 300 words per minute (wpm). Typical documents that are 400 pages or more include full-length novels. A typical single-spaced page is 500 words long. You may read faster or slower than this depending on your average reading speed.

How do I prepare for NaNoWriMo? ›

Preptober: 10 Tips for Conquering NaNoWriMo in 2022
  1. Make a custom schedule.
  2. Get organized.
  3. Clear your to-do list.
  4. Clean your workspace.
  5. Brainstorm plot points.
  6. Character development.
  7. Figure out the stakes.
6 days ago

How do I write a book on NaNoWriMo? ›

Tips for winning NaNoWriMo 2022
  1. Find a story you absolutely love. ...
  2. Understand what people like to read. ...
  3. Come up with strong characters. ...
  4. Write a single-sentence story concept before you start. ...
  5. Consider writing a chapter-by-chapter outline. ...
  6. Or plot only your most important scenes. ...
  7. Research and “build the world” of your novel.
12 Oct 2022

What is the 30 day writing challenge? ›

A 30-day writing challenge is what it sounds like: a program designed to make you write every day for 30 days.

What is the average time to right a book? ›

How long does it take to write a book on average? The average time to write a book for most authors is 180 days, or 6 months, more or less. Usually, it takes authors anywhere from 4-8 months to complete a book. However, you can definitely write a book faster than that!

Is it possible to write a novel in 30 days? ›

It's possible to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but what is really difficult is having a finished product that really makes any sense. When you're in the heat of the moment trying to crank out thousands of words every day it is very easy to get off track. That's where your planning and your outline can save you.

Can I write a book on my phone? ›

Mobile writing will never be as efficient (per word count) as keyboard writing. However, with mobile, you'll accomplish almost the same word count (or more) per day without sitting behind a desk. There are days I pick up my phone even when I could've used my laptop.

How do I start writing my own book? ›

How to Write a Book
  1. Establish a consistent writing space.
  2. Hone in on your book idea.
  3. Outline your story.
  4. Do your research.
  5. Start writing and stick to a routine.
  6. Finish your first draft.
  7. Revise and edit.
  8. Write your second draft.
2 Mar 2022

What do authors use to write books? ›

All the Book Writing Software
RankBook Writing SoftwareType
1ScrivenerWord Processing
2Google DocsWord Processing
3Google SheetsSpreadsheet
4VellumBook Formatting
7 more rows

How long does it take to write 1667 words? ›

The typical daily goal is 1667 words per day, or about 6.68 pages.

Is it better to write on phone or computer? ›

Most of the time, writing with a laptop is much better than writing with a phone. Writing with a laptop is faster since we have a keyboard, and there's a lot more room for our notes and hyperlinking sources.

Is living writer free? ›

LivingWriter is free to start, so you've got nothing to lose.

Can you write a book in 7 days? ›

It is entirely possible to write a book in one week. I know, because I've done it. But the bottom line is, you can't achieve such a feat around normal life. You have to schedule a complete week off from work, family, social commitments, the gym – basically, you need to escape your life for 7 full days.

What was the first book ever written? ›

The first book ever written that we know of is The Epic of Gilgamesh: a mythical retelling of an important political figure from history.

Why is writing a book so hard? ›

It's hard because doing it well matters, because stories matter, and the details matter, and there are often a lot of details. Sometimes they take years to organize. The feelings and ideas and memories that we put into the writing also matter, and are layered, and we can't force an understanding of them.

How many pages should be in a book? ›

When wondering how many pages a book should be, it is notable that the average book length is between 200-400 pages. With this in mind, what considerations should be taken when deciding how long a book should be? Check comparable titles. Go to a bookstore and find your book's genre.

What program do authors use to write novels? ›

The Best Novel Writing Software
  • Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word is one of the oldest word processors out there, and it is still widely used for writing books. ...
  • Scrivener. Scrivener is an advanced writing software created with serious novelists and nonfiction writers in mind. ...
  • Ulysses. ...
  • Google Docs. ...
  • Grammarly. ...
  • Dramatica. ...
  • yWriter.

What writing does Stephen King use? ›

Q #2) Which writing software does Stephen King Use? Answer: As mentioned on his website, he uses MS Word for books and the final draft for screenplays.

Is there software to help you write a book? ›

The four most popular options are Squibler, Scrivener, Google Docs and Microsoft Word. Squibler is the best book writing software because it's designed specifically to help writers write books quickly and easily by providing a full suite of features to support any type of writer working on any kind of story.

What writing software does Neil Gaiman use? ›

I use Evernote for jotting and leaving myself the kinds of ideas I might otherwise lose forever. My wife used it to work on a book with her editor. I'm not certain how. But I'm a solitary type.


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