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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Online Sprinting Tools for NaNoWriMo

Sprinting is a mainstay of doing a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).    That 50,000 word challenge every year during November (and a couple of camp Nanos as well).   Or as the NaNoWriMo site puts it, “30 days and nights of literary abandon.”

In order to do this, you basically have to put your internal editor/critic, on hold.  Not editing, not using contractions, heck; I have even taken words that were one, and separated them into two; i.e. every one, grand mother. 

The other tool to use is the sprint or word war.  I had a discussion about the definition about these terms yesterday in a writers group on FB that is geared for supporting Nano.   She stated that the word war, was how many words can you get in a short period of time, and sprints are set numbers.  The way I think of it, they are the same thing, but whatever works for you, is what is important.

I run a sprint group using Google Hangout.   We do 20 minutes of writing, then a 10 minute break, followed by a 20 minute writing spurt, and repeat.   This way you can really garner word count.  As you can see below by my chart for this year’s NaNo, I have pretty much have only 15 ish thousand left, and it is day 12.  
            Day             Sprint 1    2             3                4                             daily      target ct    cum tot

11 576 253 500 485 1814 18337 35567
12 704 627 604 300 501 20004

There are those who do the 50k in one day, and a friend of mine has done it two years in a row!
There are several sprinting programs on the internet that are helpful to get the words on the page.  Write or Die (2), Written Kitten, and Write Deck.  There are probably others, but I felt that these three were the best ones to use for this blog.

The three above are free, but there is also a paid version for Write or Die (20 bucks), which I really did not want to pay for.   So I focused on the free version.

I have done a breakdown of the cutest, best, aggravating programs for sprinting.

#1  Write or Die (2).  I had used this program before, a long time ago, and they have several levels of use. 

Some of the settings are only available in the pay version.  But the only one I really feel comfortable using is the non-startle, non-kamikaze setting.  The Kamikaze setting actually erases your words if you don’t make the goal.

I tried out the stimulus mode with the beach sounds.  I believe the pay version has the backgrounds, the free version does not.  But what it does, you can set the number of words that is your goal (though of course you can go over), you can set the time limit, and you can also set up the sounds that will warn you that you aren’t typing.  Once you hit “Try,” it takes you into a blank screen where you type your text.  If you stop, and you are not typing for too long, the screen turns red, then an annoying sound starts up.  Like a honking car, an alarm clock, barking dogs, and my personal favorite the Peanut Butter and Jelly Song…it’s quite catchy.   But I did notice that with the preset goal, I have something to achieve.   And it has helped me do more with less time.

The next one I will cover:

#2)   Written Kitten

What I like about this program, is that it has a word count.   You can also have settings for when you get the kitten/cat reward picture (i.e. 100 words, 200 words), and the first hundred you don’t get any kitty, but the 200 on up you do (if you have set it for every 100 words).  I like this one a lot, because if I have stressed from a bad day, I do not want to hear that stressful noise that Write or Die has.  I am a cat person too, but you can also change it to puppy, dinosaur, I even did dragon.  You just add on this to the URL.   and you change the word after the “=” sign. 


This sprint tool has limitless possibilities.  For my friend Joshua (AKA THUD), he could use Elephant. 

The third tool I chose was Write Deck.  This was brought to my attention by another friend Austin Blanton (AKA Wolfen)

#3 Write Deck.

This one is a multiple user (though you can do this one solo as well) sprint tool.  You can get together with friends, and both be sprinting at the same time, and you can see each other’s progress too.   This would be fun to get to see how fast you can type. 
This one is in Beta, and you have to sign up to use it.    Once you have signed up, you can start a sprint, enter a word goal, and invite other people to join you.  But the drawback (and I have not seen anything that changes that), is once you have reached your goal, then you cannot go any further.    You have to copy and paste your text into a word doc, or Scrivener or where-ever, or it gets lost after a half hour.  Though there is also a way to get it back, but not sure how long it stays.

Whichever program you choose, have fun and play around with it.  Whatever helps you get the words on the page is what is important.   Happy Writing!