5 November 2014

WriMo Diary #4: yWriter Review

You guys. It’s day five of NaNoWriMo and I am ahead of schedule at over 10,000 words so far. This is entirely unexpected and I hope to god I keep it up. 

On the first day of NaNo I decided to try out a writing app, and after asking/googling around I discovered I could download yWriter5 for free from Spacejock Software. Having used it for the past five days I no longer have any idea how I survived without it. 

The programme is nothing flashy, no gimmicks or fancy graphics to distract you from black words on a white page. I had it downloaded and installed in about thirty seconds, and with my ancient laptop and epically slow internet, I was pretty impressed. 

yWriter MAIN screen, including chapter and scene lists

It took a bit for me to fiddle about with adding chapters and scenes, trying to map out my story a little before I started writing. But once I got the hang of it, it was as easy as using any other word processing document. With everything broken down into chunks I found it so much easier to approach, writing scenes of around 500-1000 words each and watching them build into chapters. And if I found myself stalling with a particular scene, I just clicked over to another chapter and wrote a different section. No need to scroll through a huge document to find a place I felt comfortable writing, I could just dive in and not interrupt my flow.

Visually, being able to write in chunks also helped my inner critic pipe down at last. With sections of writing not there on the screen in front of me, I was less tempted to read through what I’d already written and angst over the quality of it (that’s a job for December). It’s just a little psychological thing but in attempting to churn out 50k words in a month, those are the things that make the difference. 

yWriter SCENE screen, including scene content and short description

Talking of word counts, I’m loving the breakdowns per chapter, scene and for the overall project. It also tells you how much you’ve written ‘today’, which is fantastic for keeping you on track for NaNo! It also means that, at a glance, I can see how balanced my chapters are and know where I need to add more to keep it mostly even. 

At first I was hesitant to write straight into this alien programme, but in terms of exporting this turned out to be simple as well. It took me seconds to export the whole project (at 10k words) into a word document. Not only can I have it safely backed up on Dropbox (seriously, back your stuff up) but I know when it comes to formatting I can use a programme I’m more familiar with.

Having never experienced any other writing apps I can’t comment on how it compares, but as a beginner user I found it extremely easy to navigate and invaluable in breaking up my novel into easy to manage chunks. Much less intimidating than a giant Word doc. 

Use a writing app for creating your novel? What's your favourite and why did you choose it?

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