Many a person has said, “I’m going to write a novel someday.” Someday… as in, when your work slows down, or when you can go on a fancy writing retreat, or when your kids are grown up. Someday is usually a day that doesn’t ever arrive, which is why National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, founded in 1999 by Chris Baty and friends) exists: to help you realize your creative dreams today.

The idea is straightforward. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. You don’t have to take a novel-writing class or read how-to books; you learn to write a novel by doing it. In the words of NaNoWriMo: “Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.”

If you are considering giving it a shot this November, here are five ways Docs can help you get cracking:

  1. Write everywhere - Get the app for Android or iPhone/iPad, and add new paragraphs or make edits anytime an idea strikes—on the bus, while you’re walking the dog, or even those times you’re caught without Wi-Fi, like on a plane. Of course, you can also tinker with your burgeoning masterpiece from any desktop computer by signing in at, so you never have to worry about having the right machine or device with you. 
  2. Know your word count - You’ve got one month to make it to 50,000 words, so it’s critical to track your progress as you go. To grab your word count, use the shortcut command + shift + C (mac) / Ctrl + shift +C (pc), finding it in the Tools menu, or by clicking the three grey dots in the Android app. Once you’ve got your tally, update your progress by pasting your wordcount into the NANOWRIMO header menu. 
  3. Get & manage feedback - Wrimos, as they're known, like to get feedback from each other as they write, and Docs makes that easy. When you’re ready for input, hit the big blue Share button, set permissions to “Can comment,” and the people you've shared with will be able to add comments or make suggestions that you can choose to accept or reject. 
  4. See previous versions - Docs comes with revision history built-in, so you never lose previous version of your novel. Click on “See revision history” in the file menu, and you’ll see all your edits, grouped by date, so you can easily go back in time—or even revert to a previous version that you prefer. If you do invite others to give feedback on your work, click the “See new changes” button at the top for an instant look at any edits they made. 
  5. Share your novel - Once you’re finished (congrats, BTW!), you can choose to publicly share your novel for the world to read. Also in the File menu, hit “Publish to the web” and you’ll be able to share the URL of your novel far and wide—on your favorite social networks, in email, or however you’d like. 
Good luck, and godspeed!

Posted by Michael Bolognino, Product Marketing Manager

We want to know how you use Google Docs, too, so share your own examples at +GoogleDocs or @googledocs with the hashtag #mygoogledocs. -Ed. 

Hi Susanna! Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. 
I'm the founder & CEO of BridgEd Strategies, a consulting firm that works with education organizations to develop & implement strategy, communication, and change management plans that help them better serve low-income, first generation students. I'm a lifelong educator with experience ranging from being a K - 12 classroom teacher to a senior administrator at a technical college. Most recently I served as a program officer at a large national philanthropic foundation.

I returned home to New York City last year after a decade in Seattle.

How does Google Docs fit into your everyday work at BridgEd?
When I launched my consulting practice last year, I made the conscious choice to use Google Docs and other Google products instead of buying the other office software. I've had a Gmail account for over a decade and use Google calendar to organize (and keep a historical record of) my life.

I was nervous about solely relying on Google Docs- I was unsure how I would collaborate with clients who use the other office software. I initially gave myself six months to road test this approach. It's been seamless. I use Google Docs to write, collaborate, plan, and edit with clients and partners across the world. I’m able to access my clients’ Office documents with no translation issues.

I also chose to switch from an iPhone to an Android-based cell phone. Having all of my communications devices on the same platform makes it incredibly easy to access information, no matter where I am.

When my laptop recently stopped working, I wasn’t worried about whether I’d remembered to back everything up because all of my work was automatically saved to my Google Drive. As an independent consultant, I’m my own CEO, CFO, HR Director, and Director of IT. This peace of mind is a huge relief.

What are 3 tips you’d give for other organizations who use/would consider using Google Docs?

  1. Google Drive is your most powerful asset for organizing and sharing information. A well-organized Google Drive will make collaboration and communication so much easier. Bonus: the search function means you don’t even have to be that organized. 
  2. The “Suggest” feature in Google Docs makes co-writing easy and exciting. I have collaborated on two blog post projects with people I know only through Twitter-- and Google Docs made that process not only possible but easy as well. 
  3. I’ve saved a photo of my signature as a .jpg in my Google drive to easily sign Google Docs.

Jarrett is a teacher and social entrepreneur based in West Philadelphia who uses Google Docs and Drive to power a student run organization that creates healthy snacks, called Rebel Ventures

We want to know how you use Google Docs, too, so share your own examples at +GoogleDocs or @googledocs with the hashtag #mygoogledocs. -Ed. 

Hi Jarrett! Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. 
I work for an organization called the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative at Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Over the past 4 years, I’ve worked with West Philly HS students to build a business that produces healthy snacks called Rebel Ventures. Our mission is to make good food affordable to everyone. Simply put, good food is good for the people who eat it, good for the people who make it, and good for the planet. Our goal is to create healthy snacks and healthy jobs for our community.

How does Google Docs fit into your workday? 
The Rebel Ventures Google Drive folder is the foundation of our job training model. Our business is divided into 6 departments (accounting, operations, sales, marketing, design, r&d) and high-school students rotate through each department, learning and developing a diverse set of skills by running the business activities within that department. The more skills HS students master, the more more money they earn.
We store all our files in our Drive, no matter what software is used to create them. All HS students with smartphones download Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc for their phone so they can access and manipulate the content at all times.

We use Slides to create all the tutorials that students use to teach themselves specific Rebel skills when no one is available to train them. Our entire accounting and sales systems are built in Sheets called Master Accounts. Every week a HS student opens and updates our Future Sales tab, which is transcribed on a whiteboard, carried into our kitchen, and the rest of the crew work on fulfilling orders.

We also use Sheets to improve our product quality in the Research and Development department. Every time we create a new flavor or product, we conduct a crew-wide taste test, where each individual ranks the products in a variety of set categories. A HS crew member is responsible for entering the data from the paper taste test forms into a spreadsheet, and then uses different functions to analyze and visualize the data so we can make informed recipe development decisions.

Our performance management system is based on peer evaluation. Every two weeks all Rebel crew members (high school, college, staff) fill out an anonymous Google Form where they rate their colleagues in 3 categories, and provide comments to justify the ratings. Our high school Rebel crew leaders are responsible for analyzing this data and then using it to co-plan SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals for individual improvement.

What are 3 tips you’d give for other organizations who use/would consider using Google Docs?

  1.  Trust your team and let them play. We give our high school students free access to computers as well as their phones during work, trusting that if they are using this technology they are working with Drive and Docs. The apps are simple enough that the students can self direct their activities, and they know to look to their peers and mentors if they need help manipulating a particular doc. 
  2. Build and keep building. We usually don’t have any idea what the final form of any of our docs, spreadsheets, presentations, or forms will look like before we start making them. We have a goal in mind, but otherwise just start building from the ground up until we’ve created a tool that is useful. We test the tool and continue building. If more than one person is working on a doc at a time, we make sure they have their own device to access the doc so we don’t stifle creativity, independence, and cooperative communication. 
  3. Be organized and be transparent. We do our best to keep our Drive organized through folders, and regularly train our staff on how to navigate the system. We also put everything our staff needs into Drive so there is open access to the information we need to do our jobs.

Bodie is an award winning writer and director of short films and other projects that have aired on MTVu, Logo, and the Sundance Channel, and has collaborated with DJ ShyBoy to create music videos for his debut album Water on Mars. Currently Bodie’s video work can be seen as part of the Los Angeles Public Library’s exhibit, “To Live and Dine in L.A.” exploring food culture and issues of food justice in and around L.A. 

We want to know how you use Google Docs, too, so share your own examples at +GoogleDocs or @googledocs with the hashtag #mygoogledocs. -Ed. 

1. Hey Bodie! Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. 
I see myself as a jack-of-all-trades film/media maker/storyteller/… . Although my background is firmly rooted in traditional forms of storytelling--like theatre and film--I’m fortunate that over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of all things new-media related. 

Currently I’m an assistant professor of cinematic practice at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts’ division of Media Arts + Practice. I teach documentary film production, web design, installation-based storytelling, and everything in between. The incredible group of faculty, staff, and students in our department are exploring all types of media (interactive, immersive, web-based, etc.) and how it can be used to critically engage with the issues most pressing to our culture and society. It’s an exciting place to be and, even though I’m a professor, I feel like I learn more than my students every day!

With my newfound awareness of the possibilities inherent to these emergent modes of storytelling, I’m now collaborating with many artists and designers to develop stories that will harness these technologies. This doesn’t mean I’ve completely turned my back on narrative feature films (in fact, I’m in various stages of the writing process for three), but because every project can take such a long time to gestate, I’m a firm believer of casting as wide a net as possible to keep the artistic practice in tip-top shape.

2. How does Google Docs fit into your filmmaking and teaching?
Google Docs is integral to all that I do; I use it to keep track of any ideas I have for future projects, my artistic partners and I use all of the Docs tools for our collaborations, and I use it in my classes as a space in which my students can ideate for group projects.
Re-reading that paragraph I find it amusing because I don’t think I have ever thought of word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations as artistic tools, but the way Google has designed them (and continually improved them) they’ve truly become a key part of my creative process.

3. What are 3 tips you’d give for filmmakers who use/would consider using Google Docs?

  1. Try to think outside of the box - I’ve adapted Sheets to a 3x5” index card technique I learned at UCLA as a way to map out my screenplays, Slides has become a good pre-visualization tool for my video shoots, and Docs can be adapted to use for almost any idea! 
  2. Sync to your devices - I use the entire suite on my phone, laptop, and desktop at school. The mobility it allows is incredible and saves me from having to make multiple copies of documents for each device. 
  3. Collaborate - the fullest potential of Google Docs is only revealed once you use it to work with others.

Forget fumbling with sticky notes or trying to recall that last item on your to-do list. When you’re trying to capture a moment or remember a task, Google Keep can help. And starting today, the things you love about Keep on the web and Android are now available on iOS:

  • Find what you need, quickly by searching and filtering your notes by color and type like images, audio and text. You can also add labels to help you organize your thoughts. 
  • Set time or location-based reminders so you won’t forget to swing by the dry cleaners or miss an item on your shopping list. 
  • Do more, together by sharing your notes so you can divvy up the packing list and watch as the items get checked off in real time. 
Give the new Keep app for iOS a try (it's rolling out today) and capture what’s on your mind!

Posted by Genevieve Cuevas, Software Engineer

School’s in! As you settle into your classes and start to juggle soccer practice, club meetings and homework, we’re here to help. We’ve been spending the summer “break” creating new tools to help you save time, collaborate with classmates and create your best work—all for free.

Schoolwork, minus the work 
Writing papers is now a lot easier with the Research tool in Docs for Android. You can search Google without leaving Docs, and once you find the quotes, facts or images you’re looking for, you can add them to your document with just a couple taps. That means less time switching between apps, and more time perfecting your thesis statement.
With Voice typing, you can record ideas or even compose an entire essay without touching your keyboard. To get started, activate Voice typing in the Tools menu when you're using Docs in Chrome. Then, when you’re on the go, just tap the microphone button on your phone’s keyboard and speak your mind. Voice typing is available in more than 40 languages, so we can help with your French homework, too. VoilĂ !
Do more, together
We’ve made it easier for you to tell what was added or deleted in Docs—and who made the changes. Now when you’ve left a document and you come back to it later, you can just click “See new changes” to pick up right where your classmates left off.
Forms helps you get a lot of information easily and in one place—so when you want to vote on your class field trip or collect T-shirt sizes for your team, you don’t have to sort through dozens of emails. With the new Forms, you can survey with style—choose one of the colorful new themes or customize your form with your own photo or logo, and we’ll choose the right color palette to match. Easily insert images, GIFs or videos and pick from a selection of question formats. Then send out your survey and watch as the responses roll in!
Your best work, your best you 
Creating presentations, crafting newsletters and managing your team’s budget is hard enough without having to worry about making everything look good. With the new collection of templates in Docs, Sheets and Slides, you can focus on your content while we make sure it gets the expert polish it deserves. Choose from a wide variety of reports, portfolios, resumes and other pre-made templates designed to make your work that much better, and your life that much easier.
With Explore in Sheets, you can now spend less time trying to decipher your data, and more time making a point. Explore creates charts and insights automatically, so you can visualize trends and understand your data in seconds on the web or on your Android. It’s like having an expert analyst right by your side.

Mission control, for teachers and students
A year ago, we launched Classroom to save teachers and students time and make it easier to keep classwork organized. Today we’re launching a Share to Classroom Chrome extension to make it easy for teachers to share a website with the entire class at the same time—no matter what kind of laptop students have. Now the whole class can head to a web page together, without losing precious minutes and focus to typos.
Rock this school year with Google Docs and Classroom. Your first assignment? Try these new features, which are rolling out today.

Posted by Ritcha Ranjan, Product Manager

Meet Ben Hundley--a fraternity president who keeps his chapter moving with a little help from Google Docs. 

We want to know how you use Google Docs, too, so share your own examples at +GoogleDocs or @googledocs with the hashtag #mygoogledocs. -Ed.

Hi Ben! Tell us a little about yourself and Delta Upsilon WSU. 
 My name is Ben Hundley and I am the current President of Delta Upsilon WSU. We are a small chapter between the size of 30-40 guys currently and we are based off of the four founding principles of: Promotion of Friendship, Development of Character, Diffusion of Liberal Culture and the Advancement of Justice. Our organization recently celebrated 120 years on our campus and we are extremely proud of the continued tradition and benefit our members offer to the community.
How does Google Docs fit into your chapter’s day to day? 
We as a chapter use Google Docs primarily with our executive board and recruitment team. The executive board has 8 sitting members and the recruitment team has 5 sitting members. For the executive board, we are able to keep documents saved via a house Google account. This allows us to ease the transition each year during officer elections.

This summer we have been using Google Docs heavily in order to allow the executive board to give input on the restructuring of our organization's bylaws. It has made it significantly easier for us to discuss changes and execute those changes in a timely manner because we can have multiple people addressing the same issues or action points without having to be in the same city or state. Our recruitment team is able to coordinate our recruiting efforts through Google Sheets. The lifeblood of any collegiate organization is recruiting new members and therefore, having an easily accessible spreadsheet to track who is calling who and which people have already been contacted is vital.

What are 3 tips you’d give to other fraternities & sororities who use/would consider using Google Docs? If our chapter had to give 3 tips to other greek life, they would be:
  1. Host a training session!! Although Google Docs are easy to navigate, it is still essential to ensure everyone is on the same page. 
  2. Don't forget to learn the ins and outs of privacy and sharing documents 
  3. EXPERIMENT! Try out features and see if they can be adapted to your chapter's needs.