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Writing Your NaNoWriMo Novel On WordPress

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As a guy who does a lot of writing, I’m constantly aware of my predilection for procrastination (and alliteration). If I can put off writing something, I will. It’s not because I don’t love writing; it’s just that putting a dent into a blank page can be a significant psychological barrier (can a nonexistent dent be a barrier?) I’ve never written a novel, but if I were to venture into the higher literary realms and give it a go, I know I’d need a lot of encouragement and support.

In part, that’s what the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is about. A community gathers in November with the aim of supporting each other through the process of banging out 50,000 words. It’s a great idea, and if you throw in a bit of WordPress magic, it can be even better.

In fact, with a WordPress blog, you can take your public book writing beyond the confines of cold November and built a community that will comment on, support, and critique your efforts throughout the year.

A few weeks ago we published an article about blogging a book. That article was aimed more at companies that use ebooks as marketing material, rather than novelists, so today I’d like to take a look at book blogging from another perspective.

If you check out the earlier article, you’ll notice that I talk about first publication rights, which is something to bear in mind if you intend to have your novel published through a traditional publisher. But, if you’re writing for fun and to share your work with the wider world, then that isn’t an issue. It’s also not a concern if you intend to self-publish.

So, what does it take to change WordPress into the perfect novel writing and publishing platform? – not much, actually. Out of the box, WordPress does a great job of managing your content and with the new 2013 theme, it looks pretty damn good too. But, the main strength of WordPress is its flexibility and extensibility, so we’re not going to settle for almost perfect. There are a few rough edges we can knock off before we get writing.

Markdown

Writers should think thankful thoughts about John Gruber before they go to bed at night, for it was he who originally developed the marvel that is Markdown.

Markdown is a simple markup language for text that makes it easy to concentrate on the writing and not on how it looks. No more futzing with fonts and the sizes of headers – just straightforward textual productivity. Markdown is very easy to learn. Check out this comprehensive guide to writing in Markdown.

WordPress doesn’t support Markdown natively, so were going to have to install the WP Markdown plugin. It will allow us to write our content in Markdown and then convert it to the HTML that WordPress understands.

Minimal Mode

No one ever accused the WordPress interface of being pleasant to work in, but it gets a lot better if you click into the minimal distraction free interface, which will remove all the clutter around the text entry box and leave you alone with your words.

Grammar And Spelling

There are a fair few grammar and spelling checkers for WordPress, but I’ve not found better than the one included as part of the JetPack Plugin. Install that and head to the menu item that appears in the main menu to configure it.

MagPress

MagPress isn’t for writing exactly, but it can help you do something with your work after your magnum opus is complete. MagPress is a WordPress plugin that will allow you to turn a selection of WordPress posts into an ebook. MagPress has an intuitive interface for choosing and ordering posts and can output into most popular ebook formats, including PDF, ePub and .Mobi. It’s not free, but if you plan to sell your books, it may well be worth the price.

With these components in place, WordPress becomes an excellent platform for writing a novel that will take you from initial ideas through to publication.

About Graeme Caldwell — Graeme works as an inbound marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Nexcess on Twitter at @nexcess, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog, http://blog.nexcess.net/.

Categories: Blogging Tips, WordPress Tips
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