I’ve been through about a thousand tools trying to find the perfect book-writing machine that suits my style, and I know one thing for sure: I am a finicky customer.

Microsoft Word never suited me — the formatting alone drove me mad. While some really enjoy YWriter, I really could jive with it, to be honest.

But, I think I’ve found a new winner for novel writing in an unlikely source: Notion.so.

What is notion?

Notion is an all-inclusive workspace that merges the usefulness of word processors like Word with spreadsheets and task management tools. It is an all-in-one database, perfect for encapsulating a novel with world-building, settings, inspiration, outlines and so on. And, best of all, it’s free! I use Notion like a WIKI (what-I-know-is) for every novel I write.

The gooD

Whenever November rolls around, there’s a special buzz in the air, and it’s not just from the clouds of pumpkin spice drifting out of your favourite coffee shop. It’s National Novel Writing Month or Nanowrimo.

As a writer, this is both an exciting and daunting time. This is when my appreciation for Notion truly started because, honestly, it helped me keep the plot where other software had failed.

One of the first things I liked about Notion was its adaptability. Whether you’re drafting a novel, penning short stories, or writing poems, Notion’s flexibility allows you to tailor it to your writing process. You can set up checklists, due dates, tags, and more to keep track of things. You can even link databases with relational columns, so you keep track of chapters, scenes, plot points, and characters.

Bonus points also go to the reminder system! Some days, I need somebody to nudge me back on track, and Notion is my buddy for that.

I feel like I can braindump directly into the software but still keep everything organised and logical.

The great

Beyond the basics, Notion has really kept me on track when it comes to character arcs and pacing. Filters really let me focus on specific chapters, scenes or even beats.

Another lifesaver is the ability to link related pages or assets. When I write about a character’s backstory in one section I can reference it from another so I don’t forget a crucial plot point or timeline.

The ugly

Look, no tool is perfect so I have two things for you.

Notion is great, but it’s not for everyone. I think for people accustomed to more traditional platforms, there’s a steep learning curve. Databases, filters, and more all require some understanding of relational tables — not for everyone. If you love to fiddle with tables and be organised, you might love Notion. But, if you’re more of a sticky notes kind of person this isn’t the writing software for you.

Also, honestly? The mobile version is a no-go for me. If you’re writing on the fly, it won’t do.

To be hoenst, I still use scrivener as well

I picked up a discounted version of Scrivener years back during a particularly successful Nanowrimo. I still use it! I’m still coming to terms with the relationship between my Notion and Scrivener boards but I find the focus mode on Scrivener so useful that I don’t think I’ll ever completely abandon it.

The editing and revision features, daily word counts, and corkboards in Scrivener are also still useful for me. So, typically I use Notion to keep track of the bigger picture and be my reference point while I do the bulk of work in Scrivener.

That said, if you’re in-between software and you’re writing a book I’d definitely recommend giving Notion a go!


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