Have you heard of NaNoWriMo?

Ally's blog: Here's the lovely Alison Aldridge, Felixstowe's redhead blogger and author!


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  It started in November 1999 with the simple goal of writing 50,000 words in a month.  


The organisers have continued to run the challenge every year and become a non-profit that supports writers and various writing challenges and events all year round.  But, November’s NaNoWriMo is still considered the main annual event.  


It’s free to participate, and if you sign up to their website you can earn badges for using their novel writing widgets, and badges for lots more. If you win the challenge, you will get a certificate and in previous years it has included digital confetti - it feels very rewarding. 




Many participants use October as a month to prepare for the challenge, earning the month the nickname Preptober.  


I thought I’d share some of my favourite tools when preparing to write a novel: 


Save a Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

This novel is based on the famous guide for writing screenplays, simply called Save The Cat!  It is designed to help you plot a novel by highlighting the beats found in popular stories of all genres.  The book indicates where these beats should feature in your book & gives examples from a wide range of well known stories to help people relate to the points being made in the guide. 


I tend to write out a rough outline and then check it against the beats.  I’ll then write my novel, not being too strict, as the most important thing about a first draft is getting it written.  During my first self edit, I will revisit Save The Cat to check my pacing against the beats. 



I love Canva and use it a lot to create my social media posts. You can also use it to create a book cover for your project. Visualising the end product is very motivating, and Canva is easy to use with plenty of free tools and stock images you are allowed to use. 

Be careful when sourcing your own pics that you have permission from the creator to use them, otherwise you could get in trouble with copyright. This is why I used a reputable cover designer for Ocean Heart when I published. 

Art Breeder

Art Breeder is a lot of fun but you will spend a bit of time playing with it to get the hang of it.  What it does is mixes two portraits together (breeds them), to make a new portrait.  


You can also tweak features like age, eyes, hair, gender, etc. Kiely was created in Art Breeder from Murray, who is her brother. I changed the gender and age. 


Kiely will be the main character in Sky Heart, and she goes through some physical transformations. It was fun to see this using Art Breeder.  




This is a great app to save story ideas. You can make inspiration boards for your characters, location, clothing, hobbies, or anything else that is important to your story. You can pin all sorts of content from the Internet. 



I use a spreadsheet to track my novel. I record the chapter, word count, and a little description of what happens. This is useful if you ever need to go back and change something and to track progress.  I use Google Sheets for this as I can use it on the go from my mobile. And, I like Google Docs for writing as I can share it with selected people for feedback. Plus, it’s all in one place on my Google Drive.  


For NaNoWriMo it can be useful to set yourself word count goals and your spreadsheet can help with this. For example, if you write every day, 30 days, then you need to achieve 1,667 words every day.  If you know you can't write every day, for example you plan to take the weekends off, then you’d be writing for 22 day of the month, so would need to write 2,273 words on your writing days. 


It's more realistic to give yourself some days off to recharge, see people, or incase of an emergency or sickness.  A good tip is to aim to write more words than needed, because it's easy to fall behind, and difficult to catch back up.  


NaNoWriMo account

If you decide to give the challenge a go, create an account on NaNoWriMo. Not only can you use their tools to track your novel, but there are also exclusive deals for participants, such as free trials of writing software or discounts. Each year there are different deals, so check out what they are offering this year from their sponsored partners.  


My profile is Redfae on NaNoWriMo. I’m happy to connect with fellow writers and to discover more about what you are working on.  




I feel like working on something new. It's still part of the Soul Heart series but it will be a prequel set in the 90s. There will be a touch of magic, romance and revenge… And, hopefully a happy ever after, but I always struggle with endings. Of course, it will be set in Felixstowe.