13 Best Free Resources for NaNoWriMo (For Complete Beginners)

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In this post, I want to share with you the best free resources for NaNoWriMo for beginners. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.

If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo, every November writers from around the world attempt to write 50,000 words or more in 30 days.

I’m going to share with you lots of tools. So make sure that you read all the way through the entire article. Some of these tools you might’ve heard about before, and other tools I bet you haven’t heard of, or you haven’t thought about in relationship to NaNoWriMo.

Don’t want to read the article? Watch this video of me going through each one of the free resources.

Check out this and many other helpful videos on my YouTube Channel

Here is a quick list of all of the free resources. Then we will go through each resource, one at a time so that you have all of the information you need to “win” NaNoWriMo.

How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo (Preptober Checklist of Resources)

Best Free Resources for NaNoWriMo Prep (PrepTober)

Voice to Text Apps

Okay, let’s get right to it. I want to share with you these resources that I’ve discovered and that I know can be helpful for you. The first thing I want you to think about is to write 50,000 or more words in one month is going to take lots of effort and writing.

Your hand will start cramping. It’s difficult to actually write that much or type that much. So one of the tricks of really productive authors, really prolific authors of any kind, is to use voice to text.

Microsoft word has this capability. Google docs have this capability. If you want, you can just use a voice to text app. You might even have a built-in notes app on your phone.

There are different apps you can get from the Apple store or the Google Play store, where you can just speak into your computer. Or, speaking through your phone. That way, you can get more words down on the page or screen.

If you use your phone, you can actually write while you commute, do the dishes, do laundry, or do other chores. You can be multitasking and getting your words in for NaNoWriMo.

Answer the Public snapshot

Answer The Public

I want to talk to you about Answer the Public. You might not even have ever heard of this site. It’s a site that most people use when they’re trying to come up with topics to write blog posts about or if they’re trying to find keywords for keywords search and Google rankings.

Don’t worry about any of that right now. The website can actually be a very lucrative resource for anybody who’s trying to come up with something to write. It can be very, very helpful.

When you watch the video, you can see a screen recording of me jumping over to the website so that you can see it in action. It’s got such a really cool interface.

You literally just put in a topic like a query letter or smoothie. Then you push the search button. Answer The Public is going to give you lots of different ideas. You can type questions into the search bar.

You can type in anything – chocolates, some setting in your story, the career of one of your characters, a conflict. or any topic. Answer the Public is going to present you with (either in graphical representation or in straight data) all the different kinds of questions that people ask about related to that topic. So it’s going to give you tons of ideas and tons of questions that you can then write to (as prompts) during NaNoWriMo.

Quora website snapshot

Reddit or Quora (Online Forums)

Have you thought about Reddit and Quora? Now those are online forums in which people ask tons of questions about almost every topic. It’s user-generated information, so it’s typically very concise. That means you can consume more data faster and get back to writing sooner.

If you’re blocked, if you have writer’s block, and you don’t know what to write about, head over to Reddit and Quora. Type in a word, a phrase, or a question that has to do with your novel or your writing, and see what comes up. This simple process might jog and trigger something.

These forums might give you a starting point, a baseline. It might trigger some ideas inside your head that push you through your block. Ultimately, the end result is that you can get more words down on paper.

Hubspot's Blog Ideas Generator Snapshot

HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator

Another website you can use to generate ideas is HubSpot’s Blog Ideas, Generator. Again, it’s designed for ideas for blogs, but it can give you ideas to write about if you get stuck. You can get words down on paper.

Write your 50,000 words now, and then you can edit them afterward. You can edit them starting in December.

Once you enter your word, the website generates a week’s worth of free ideas. There is also a paid option for many more ideas, but there is no reason to use it. Get your free ideas and go.

Plot Generator Snapshot

Plot Generator

Plot generator.org is another website where you can generate ideas for short stories, movie scripts, fairytales, titles, and headlines. It’s just a really cool website.

Use it to generate more ideas. Again, the key with NaNoWriMo is to get your words down. This tool can help you churn out glorious high word counts with dazzling ease.

I can think of a dozen things to write about by looking at the crazy cat pictures on their homepage. 🙂

Manuskript website snapshot

Manuskript

Then there’s Manuskript. This is something that people have been talking about with NaNoWriMo for a very long time. And there’s a reason: it’s an open-source tool for writers.

It’s completely free. It allows you to write in distraction-free mode. There’s a novel assistant, and you can even outline your novel right inside this software.

Bibisco Screenshot

Bibisco

BiBisco is also novel writing software. There’s a free version of it that you can access from the website. Many people have used this software to participate in NaNoWriMo. So I wanted to share it with you. I wanted to put it on the list for one of the best free resources to win NaNoWriMo for beginners.

It’s hard to go wrong with resources that are free, offer massive value and that have been around for years.

IIys website Screenshot

Ilys

Then there’s Ilis. Now, this is actually something that costs money, but until the end of 2020, it is free. It says it right on their website (and in my screenshot above). Check out this website because it’s going to help you write your 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo.

The beauty of this software is that it pushes you into a flow state. After you enter your target word count and start to write, ILys will not let you go back, delete or otherwise edit.

YouTube Channel Screenshot

YouTube and Twitter

You might be surprised to see social media on this list because it can be a distraction, but here’s the thing: you can not write all day long, 24 hours a day. You’ve got to have a break.

YouTube and Twitter are both to be ways to connect with the NaNoWriMo community. They can both be a way to distract yourself and unwind after you have written your word count for the day.

But here’s the secret that not every NaNoWriMo beginner knows: YouTube and Twitter can actually also help you with your word count.

Both on YouTube and on Twitter, you can join with other writers who are also participating in NaNoWriMo. You can participate in what’s called writing sprints.

If you haven’t heard about writing sprints, they are timed sessions where writers will write as many words as possible during a certain established time period.

So a writer will say, I’m going to write a thousand words in an hour, and they’ll set a timer on their phone or on an egg timer or some other device. Then they will start the timer and write as much as possible.

Hopefully, they meet their goal before the timer goes off. So it’s just a timed writing session. You try to write as fast and furiously as possible. When you think about it, National Novel Writing Month is just one month-long writing sprint that’s split up into lots of mini writing sprints.

On YouTube, you can do writing sprints along with specifically designed videos with music that are half an hour or an hour long. You can get encouraged during the entire hour writing sprint on YouTube.

My Twitter Account Screenshot

There are also Twitter sprints. You can do a hashtag #NaNoWriMo or #writingsprint or even #NaNoWriMoSprint. You can connect with lots of other writers who are doing sprints at the same time. This can be a gamechanger for encouragement, or just to give yourself some accountability when you start a sprint.

So don’t overlook YouTube and Twitter. They can be powerful resources, free resources, to win NaNoWriMo.

Write or Die Screenshot

Write or Die and Write Track App

These are both software. Write or Die is an online software free where you can track your writing sprints. As you write, or fail to write, you receive feedback. It is such a unique experience that you have to check out for yourself.

As you can see from the screenshot, there is a brand new version (version 3) ready for you to explore.

The Write Track app is an app you can have on your phone. It serves about the same kind of purpose as Write or Die. It just has fewer features because it’s an app and not an online software.

If you want to time your writing, if you want to track it, if you want to get some feedback along the way, check these tools out.

Write Monkey website snapshot

Write Monkey

Write Monkey is stripped-down, distraction free writing software.

It allows you to simply focus on writing. It’s another software that writers have been using for years during NaNoWriMo. I had to put it on the list.

Writing Sprint Spreadsheet Free Download

Super Writing Sprint Spreadsheet

Here’s a surprise that I have for you. It’s actually a gift.

If you don’t want to mess around with something online, or if you don’t want another app on your phone and you just want to be able to track your word count on your computer, I have created one especially for you.

In fact, I one created because it’s a very sophisticated Excel spreadsheet, specifically designed for word sprints. It automatically tracks and updates your progress. It automatically updates your progress for your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.

All you do is plug in a goal, write however much you write during your writing sprint, and then you enter that into the spreadsheet. It automatically generates progress bars and graphs.

Yeah, it’s really cool.

The progress bars and graphs tell you where you are in relationship to your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual writing goals. It’s fantastic. It’s something that I charged for on my website for a while, but because it’s about to be NaNoWriMo, I have made this spreadsheet absolutely 100% free.

Go ahead and get it for free right now. Grab your copy while it’s still free.

Google calendar search screenshot

Google Calendar

Have you thought about leveraging Google calendar?

Believe it or not, Google calendar can help you track your daily writing goals during NaNoWriMo. So it’s another free tool. It’s something that lots of people know about, but lots of writers don’t always think about using a Google calendar for writing sprints and tracking writing goals.

You can set up the calendar to remind you to write every single day. You can easily track your daily word count for reaching 50,000 words.

Grammarly Website Screenshot

ProWriting Aid and Grammarly

Once you are through, once you have won NaNoWriMo and collected the t-shirt, once you’ve got your 50,000 words, the first task is a celebration.

Congratulations, you’ve done it!

Many writers who start NaNoWriMo don’t reach 50,000 words. That’s not to say that they haven’t attained a measure of success. After all, they have progressed on their novel. They may have written thousands or tens of thousands of words.

Starting right after NaNoWriMo, starting right in December, you’ll want to launch the editing phase of your work. You can edit for free with software like Pro Writing Aid and Grammarly.

These are really good tools to use for editing your writing. I personally use the free version of Grammarly for all of my blog posts, and I ask my outsourced writers to do the same.

The free version only allows you to edit 1,000 words at a time so you will likely have to break up your writing. I do this by copying and pasting 1,000 words into Grammarly at a time.

Grammarly blog post screenshot
This is a screenshot of me using Grammarly on this blog post

Conclusion

Okay, guys, that was a really quick share of the best free resources for NaNoWriMo for beginners.

I wanted to give you that list really quick, because I know it’s about to be November, at least at the time of this writing. So check out the resources linked in this post. I really appreciate you reading.

Next, read The Best Writing Books For Beginners