People are going nuts during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Millions of pages of horse shit are being produced, and from the steaming ashes of that mess, a work or two of incredible brilliance just might materialize. One of the problems people are encountering with the rubbish produced from NaNoWriMo is that it’s a jumbled mess. I think there are very few people who actually sit and write a book from beginning to end, going from page to page in exactly the order in which the finished piece will be. This chart I just made up represents the number of people who actually do this:
As you can see, next to no one writes like that, so why are you opening a document and typing, hitting return a bunch of times when you change scenes? That’s effing stupid, and you need to stop.
There is a lot to be said about distraction-free writing. If you have trouble staying focused, you should explore some distraction-free writing software where all you can do is enter text, and you can’t see your taskbar to notice that 598 people you don’t really know have commented on your Facebook pictures of your cat’s hairball collection. Lifehacker did an awesome job polling its readers to find the five best distraction-free writing programs, so I’m not going to even bother compiling them here. Just check out their post. Alternatively, you can just write on paper, or in an Alpha Smart so you can’t play Solitaire or get distracted by your tasteful torrent collection.
Once you’ve got some spectacularly terrible word vomit that you want to save for whatever reason, don’t just put it in a document and think you’ll know what filename “ChapterXX” means later on. What will save your unorganized writing brain is a hierarchy. You might not ever outline before you start writing, but once you have that junk out in plain sight, you can sort it and have it make sense visually.
Here is some of the best software I’ve found to help you organize your writing. There are about three shit tons of programs out there aimed at writing. I’ve thrown out all the trashware that tries to actually help you write a novel by asking you questions and forcing you to run through mazes to somehow arrive at story. Writing can’t be forced, so stay away from anything that promises to help you do so, especially if they want money for it.
These are not exhaustive reviews. I just want to let you know what’s out there, and I figure when you see what’s available, you’ll recognize which is the best solution for you.