Notebooks and Notes


Notes are such an important feature of life; to help you remember that significant detail to tell somebody, to insert it into your writing later, to recall the spelling of a place name, a shopping list for the supermarket, to tell somebody you love them, to make somebody smile or simply to test whether that beloved ball point pen you have been using for the past 6 months has finally run out of ink and it’s time to find another one that writes as smoothly with the correct thickness of line (yes, ball point pen thickness is an issue of life).

So when I fell across and read this article by Lawrence Norfolk from the BBC , it made me think about our notebooks that we carry around with us and what we actually write in them. Is it all random words, paragraphs, lines and drawings that don’t relate to one another, or is it a story of its own waiting to be written?

In the article Lawrence says…

“A full notebook potentially contains the rest of your writing life. Or nothing of value at all. It is transitional. Work passes through it on the way to becoming something else.”

Charlotte Bronte’s

Mark Twain’s

I’m sure you all, as writers, have a notebook where you write your ideas, lightbulb moments and general day-to-day wonderings. Mine is blue with an embroidered feather on. In the front of the book, is a journal which I only ever write when I actually remember to do so which unfortunately isn’t that often. Each entry is more of a “life update” every 3 months or so. In the back, are random pages of pictures, lecture notes, telephone doodles, presentation notes, train times and random poem verses. In the middle, ripped pieces of paper for when I have needed a note to push through someone’s letterbox, to wrap my chewing gum in or to start a game of charades. All completely separate to each other but could actually connect together and tell a story of its own.

Co-founder of Novlr, Kim, has started a new pukka pad just this morning – and has a new pen (side note – the thickness looks good). Check out the post @novlrofficial on Instagram.

What do you go for in a notebook; moleskin, pukka pad, fabric, categorised or whatever is in the shop at the time of need?

Lesson from this blog post – don’t throw away previous notebooks however much space they may take up, they could cure that thing that comes up quite a bit in a writer’s life called Writer’s Block!

Feel free to share your notebook stories and pictures with us!

Happy Note-Taking Friday Novlrists :)

Podcasts to get stuck into for readers and writers…

Mix up your daily commute by listening to podcasts- the perfect thing to listen to on the way to work, waiting for a bus or before you go to bed. If you don’t have the time to read every blog or article on writing, this is an ideal way to keep up to date with the writing community.

These podcasts have been created to provide tips, inspiration, story ideas,  guidance on the world of writing and a whole host of writing resources. Check out these podcasts for writers and readers which could help you on your way with your novel.

The Dead Robot Society was created by Justin Macumber and has transformed into a popular podcast with multiple hosts. On a weekly basis, they gather and discuss their personal stories and writing journeys along with topics related to the writing world. Give it a listen and see what you think!


Writing Excuses is a weekly educational podcast for writers, recorded by writers. The show has four hosts with occasional guests featured on the show. The great thing about Writing Excuses, is that each podcast is 15 minutes – short enough for you to listen to on the go or before you start your writing.


Helping Writers Become Authors is another short podcast, most being less than 10 minutes. Perfect for on the go and for short attention spans! They cover a whole host of issues writers face, focusing on story arcs and finding inspiration for your story.


The Guardian Books Podcast may not specifically be for writers but is a great podcast for keen readers to listen to author reviews, readings and discussions. Hosted by Guardian Books editor, Claire Armistead, the podcasts makes for interesting listening with multiple angles and inspiring guests.


The Nerdist Writers Panel is an interview series podcasts where writers are invited onto the show to talk to Ben Blacker to talk about their writing, their specific field and journey. Guests come from all different writing backgrounds, not just novelists, but a great listen for a wider perspective of writing.


Get those headphones in and be inspired – happy listening!

Why a good book is a secret door…

Another TED talk this week. This one, “Why a good book is a secret door” is delivered by award winning children’s author, Mac Barnett. Now we know not all of you will be budding children’s authors but this talk was so good we couldn’t resist sharing it with everyone. It can be related to many other genres as the creativity displayed through the ideas of these people are ingenious – if only everywhere was like the pirate shop and the time travelling supermarket! So let your imagination run wild, have fun with your novel and engage your writers in some inspiring way. Enjoy the talk!Customized Inflatables

Catching Creative Ideas

Wonder out loud – boost your creative thoughts through everyday occurrences.

TED talks offer a vast array of views, opinions, perspectives and banks of information on multiple subjects. I stumbled across this particular TED talk and as soon as I started watching, Brad Herzog, an award winning freelance writer, captured my attention straight away. Some of his ideas and ways of finding subject and content is genius. So when it comes to thinking up a new storyline, a unique new novel idea or next time you get writers block, think of the little things you come across every single day and think how and if you can write it into your story. Who knows, you might get your next idea when opening a fridge as well!

Your Number 1 Writing Rule!



Writing fiction Do’s and Don’ts

We posted a link last week to an article by the Guardian titled “10 rules for writing fiction” which you can read here

Lots of authors contributed and wrote their 10 rules – some favourites of ours were:

Do back exercises. Pain is distracting – Margaret Atwood

Do, occasionally, give in to temptation. Wash the kitchen floor, hang out the washing. It’s research – Roddy Doyle

Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire – Geoff Dyer

It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction – Jonathan Franzen

Laugh at your own jokes – Neil Gaiman

Remember you love writing. It wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back – Al Knnedy

So we asked our users what their number one rule would be – and here is a selection of replies –

  • Don’t take yourself so seriously, you are playing with imaginary friends and sometimes need to be a kid yourself. Write like you’re a kid. Enjoy it.
  • Write what you want to read. So that’s what I do. You should write more for yourself than for others.
  • Simply – “Show don’t tell”…easy to remember too!
  • Write every day
  • Try not to weep all over your keyboard when one of your characters dies
  • “Don’t tell me about sunbeams tell me about the silver flashing leaves” describe the effect not the item
  • I don’t agree with “But “said” is far less intrusive than “grumbled”, “gasped”, “cautioned”, “lied”.” Said said said drives me nuts. . I prefer grumbled, growled, whispered, etc. .

So you should now be feeling motivated and pumped to show not tell, to not take yourself seriously, and to use every different word under the sun to describe the effect of something. Go and make yourself a tea or coffee, sit at that desk and let the creativity flow out of those fingertips and onto your keyboards!


NaNoDiNo November madness 2015

2015 NaNoWriMo has finished and it’s fair to say that everyone using Novlr absolutely smashed it. I can honestly say we have never drawn so many well-deserved dinosaurs in our lives! Now it’s time to re-fuel, watch Jurassic Park a few more times, and get some more inspiration ready for 2016’s #NaNoDiNo’s (yes it takes that long…!)

As you can see from the picture above, we drew many, many dinosaurs and that’s not even all of them. Our imaginations were stretched as to how we could draw each one differently to the last and there is some pretty strange looking ones in the mix!

Now, we love a good statistic here at Novlr but this one blew our minds. Throughout NaNoWriMo 2015, Novlr users wrote 60,755,096 words! Thats an average of 2,025,169 words written each day, 84,382 words written every hour and 1,406 words written a minute!! We loved hearing how you were getting on each day through Twitter and Facebook and as it says in the picture below – it’s only the beginning.


So to everyone who took part in NaNowrimo – we want to say a huge congratulations. Anyone that takes on writing a novel is incredible, let alone trying to do it in 30 days. Now it’s time to sit back with a cup of strong coffee and edit that bad boy – Good Luck!

Release blog: 0.2.0 (Redesign, multiple novels, user statistics and more)

Boy have we been hard at work! The last couple of months has seen myself and our superstar developer Mark Muhleder working flat out to bring you the second major release of Novlr since being in beta. To give you an idea of the scale of the change, the version of Novlr before this release had 700 commits (changes to the code) and Novlr-0.2.0 has 1,267! That is a lot of work.

Summary of changes: We have redesigned the whole settings screen, including a hint at what is to come in the next few months. We have added your most-requested feature of all time – multiple novels. You can now write as many as you like, you prolific bunch. We have added some statistics that shed a bit of insight on how, when and how much you write. And we’ve added much more besides.

All changes are outlined below. As always, if you want more details, technical or otherwise, about any of these features, I’d love to talk to you about them, [email protected]

Novlr release 0.2.0

Major changes

  • Multiple novels
  • New statistics of every word you write in Novlr*
  • User settings full redesign
  • New notifications system
  • Versioning in case of need to restore – we save a version of your work with each change so if anything goes wrong we can track back through all your changes and rectify it**

* “Words written this year” and “time spent writing in Novlr” for existing users counted only from 1st July 2015.
** Currently this is for admins to help rectify issues but once more robust we will move it into the app so that each writer can track every single change they ever make. Exciting!


  • Now allow signup with postfix emails (a “+”)
  • Now allow signup with emails with capital letters
  • Checks for newer versions of Novlr and prompts to update
  • Prepared payment system for release in October
  • Improvements to dealing with offline conflicts arising from using multiple devices
  • Added an email verification step to secure your account further
  • Hitting Alt+C will open and close the chapter list in chrome (for all other browser and OS, see which access key +C is required)

Bug fixes

  • Chapter title not updating in status bar when changed until refresh – fixed
  • Scrolling to the top when using bold/italic etc.

With massive thanks to…

Novlr is a handful of passionate people trying to build you the best writing tool out there and we could not do it without funding! These Lifetime Heroes have paid $100 to have Novlr free forever in order to help fund this crucial build stage. We can’t shower enough praise onto them. The people who helped fund release 0.2.0 are:

Andrew Hodges · Wendy Matheson · Nicola White · Catherine Emmett · Jim Moran · Katarina Takahashi


August update – big features coming your way!

New feature release: Exporting your novel

As any of you who have been following our journey over the last two years know, we build what our writers need. Mostly that consists of asking you to tell us which are the most important features to you in a novel-writing software, and as we get funding, building them. The next of those features is now yours. Exporting your novel into various formats, is here.

We have pushed code to the site that adds the option to export your novel as .docx (Microsoft Word, but also compatible with google docs), .pdf (not editable so good for sharing or getting a copy once your work is finished) and .odt which is an OpenDocument Format making it compatible with many word processors. You can export your novel from your “settings menu”.


This is the first release of exporting and as such has a couple of limitations which we could use your help with. Exporting also has a roadmap of additional pie-in-the-sky features we want to add when we get there. With most features that we release, like exporting, we will build them so that they work well, continue with other features and then come back round to them to improve them.Buy East Inflatables

Things we need your help to achieve

Special characters in .pdf

Turns out there aren’t that many great html->pdf libraries on the internet. Well, we are using jspdf which was the best we tested. If you help us dig out any issues, our work with it for Novlr is almost certainly going to improve it :) We then get the privilege of giving that back to the development community so that others can use the improvements for free.

The .pdf format produced has some limitations with converting special characters, for example, the true ellipses character (…), the double quotes that look like 66 and 99 and em dash (—). We convert these into their supported equivalents (ie, change curly double quotes into straight ones – “). We have done this for many characters but it is likely some have been missed – particularly accented or foreign letters. If you export your words and find special characters being stripped out, please let us know and we will add it to the exceptions list with an alternative supported character.

Support for .odt format

We export to 1.2 version of the .odt format so it will not work in older processors. It works in up-to-date processors and Google Drive for example. (with more funding we may backdate this functionality to older versions).

Future of exporting

We can’t continue improving Novlr without you. You can help by: telling every writer you know about Novlr; becoming a lifetime hero and making our year; or signing up to Novlr when we have the full product in autumn ($10/month subscription). If you help us grow and fund this, these are the things we want to be able to do with exporting:

  • Make pdfs look nicer, more book-y and with page numbers;
  • Auto-sync to Dropbox;
  • Auto-sync to Google Drive;
  • Publish to .epub.

Thank you

Novlr is still free and will be until we feel there are enough core features to release it as a full product. We are hoping that will be in Autumn. In the meantime we rely on lifetime heroes. Here are the incredible people who not only believe in us and what we’re doing but have put their money down to prove it and helped fund this feature by becoming a lifetime hero:

Charity Thomas · Brad Haakenson · Paul Swann · Benjamin Randall · Jo Hatcher · Rachel Moore  · Anonymous Funder

Offline writing is here!

Offline writing is here! You told us you wanted it, so we built it. Your votes on our features poll made it clear what is most important to you: being able to carry on writing when not connected to the internet. We all write in lots of different places and for the cafes with bad wifi, the trains, the in-between-times, we need to be able to do so without worrying about our connection. So, with the help of 40 lifetime heroes, we have spent the last month making it happen. And today it went live.

A guide to Novlr offline

Things you can now do:

  • Carry on writing when you lose internet: if your connection drops, you will see a little offline symbol appear in the header and the saved status bottom right will say “offline: saved locally”. This means that we have saved your work to your browser. When you get a connection again, it will automatically come back online, save everything and let you know.
  • Write offline, close tabs and come back to it later: We’ve even done it so that you can close the tab. Close the whole browser. Heck, shut down your entire computer if you like. And then come back to it and carry on where you left off, either offline or online.
  • Write in two or three, or ten places at once: You can now write online in lots of different places and your work will keep up to date as you open new tabs and devices to continue where you left off.
  • Load up, not have a connection and access the app anyway: So long as you are logged in and have visited the app before, you don’t need a connection to load up. So you can go to the cafe, never have a connection, load up, write and then go online to sync it when you get back.
  • Fixing when you accidentally get two versions on the go: If, by mistake, you write offline, then continue elsewhere online before returning to your other-device offline version and writing again, then next time you go online with that one you will have two different versions of a chapter. In this scenario, when you go back online you will need to either get the newer words or keep the ones in the current editor. There is no getting around this if you write in two separate threads in the same chapter, one offline and one online – we’ve done what we can to limit any damage. The best way to avoid this is to always sync after writing offline before writing online in another device elsewhere.

Which is pretty neat. As always, you can give us feedback or report a bug using our reporting system from the app or by emailing us at [email protected]


If you are offline, clearing the cache will clear all locally stored data, like saved passwords etc., including Novlr data – so your offline saved words. Don’t clear the cache before going back online and make sure your work is saved to live (the offline symbol disappears and you get a message “you are back online and all your words have been saved”) before clearing. The other thing is. Offline should be a temporary solution not a way of life. If your computer breaks and you never get to go back on it, those words are lost (Just like the olden days of offline writing tools). When Novlr is online we are saving every word and triple backing up every 5 minutes. Offline, it’s just you and your browser against the world.

Massive thanks

This has been made possible by the foresight, generosity and general brilliant-ness of our lifetime heroes who have paid for lifetime Novlr. Thirty seven of those people helped fund this release. We also had 14 supporters become alpha testers for us to slam the doors and kick the tyres before we let you all take it for a drive. If you see these people on the street, shake their hand. Tell everyone you meet of their vision and intellect. Hold them in the highest regard. Thank you.

Lifetime Heroes that funded this release

Ellie Dawes · Jennifer O’Gorman · Valentina Bertani · Tina Kirby · Akane Vallery Uchida · Jessica Waters · Brendan Stallard · Amy F · Alun Salt· Paul Valentine · Jason Crimp · Rachel Marsh · Edward Kane · Lauren Simonis · Margaret Montgomery · Daniel Caughill · CM Weller · Emma Barnes · Cody Goodson · Angel Belsey · Ben Owens · Amanda Cooke · Jake Carni · Rachel Moore · Craig Roberts · Nik Ranieri · Barry Cooper · Angela Cairns· Kay Buchan · Petra Cechova · Miriam Ahamat · Ricky Wilks · Opal Mattila · Jarrod Kimber · Suzanne Buissink · Rebecca Short · Sutako
If you would like to fund the next release and become a Lifetime Hero, make our day and become a hero now.

Alpha Testers that meant this was able to go live

Rebecca Short · Daniel Caughill · Lisa Bellini · Brendan Stallard · Ashley Leath · Rosie McFaul · kpiazza · Marie Hogebrandt · Amanda Cooke · Iamveryfar · Ricky Wilks · Valentina Bertani · Anj Cairns · Barry Cooper · Jarrad Kimber