ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

Make your own NaNoWriMo survival kit

Updated on February 4, 2016

This is how I prepare for the craziness that is writing a novel in 30 days

My favourite autumn activity is writing a novel. I know, I'm such a geek. NaNoWriMo, which takes place in November, is the highlight of the year for me. A whole month of absolute madness. The lines between imagination and reality absolutely blurred, since you need to live in both worlds at once.

As soon as the leaves start falling off the trees I feel the familiar butterflies in my tummy. I start looking for the perfect notebook and a new pen, and everything else that belongs in my annual novel writing survival kit. This is a box of things that will help or inspire me in the month to come, and which I can not open and use until midnight 1. November.

So what exactly do I include in my NaNoWriMo survival kit? Oh, and what exactly is this strange thing called NaNoWriMo anyway? Read on and find out!

Photo: Allposters

What is NaNoWriMo?

A 50,000 word November miracle/ disaster.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Yes, that's right. In the month of November, thousands of people all over the world throw all caution to the wind, their social life out the window and live on microwave dinners, in order to produce a 50.000 word novel in 30 days.

No, the idea is not to have a novel ready for publishing at the end of the month, but to have a very (read: extremely) rough first draft to edit and build on.

Sounds insane? That's because it is. Completely insane, absolutely mind blowing and worse than any last-minute paper you have ever had to write in high school. But it's so much fun!

Click the photo below to read more and sign up (it is 100% per cent free)!

First thing to go into my survival kit: - A new notebook!

There is something so promising and inspiring about a perfectly new, perfectly perfect notebook. That first blank page shining at you as you open the stiff covers of your newest treasure. The thought of putting your pen to that paper for the first time and create that first word/ sentence/ paragraph - all those words that will eventually make our your novel!

I buy a new notebook every year. I know this might seem a little decadent, but I also suspect most writers understand me. I choose a notebook once I get a certain idea what this year's story will be about. The notebook will then reflect something in that story. A colour, an emotion, a symbol.

Markings by C.R. Gibson Debossed Italian Leatherette Journal - Red (MJ16-6118)
Markings by C.R. Gibson Debossed Italian Leatherette Journal - Red (MJ16-6118)

This is the sort of notebook my main character of my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel would choose, and as a result it was also my choice for that year.

I love the design and the rich, red colour. It is lined (perfect for me, since I couldn't write on a straight line to save my life), and the paper is thick enough to not have to worry about the ink bleeding through to the next page.

I think I'm in love....

 
My favorite coffee mug
My favorite coffee mug

My favourite coffee mug

I hide this in my survival kit box sometime in early autumn. It is hard for me to do, but anticipating the joyful reunion upon opening the box on November 1 helps me through it.

Why it is my favourite mug I couldn't tell you. I've only been to Birmingham once, and only for half a day. I don't remember much of it. The mug was bought because I am obsessed with souvenir shops. And coffee mugs. And because I got this idea I would start collecting love mugs from all the cities I visited.

I haven't.

Photo: my own.

The NaNoWriMo guide book

No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days
No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

Chris Baty is the man behind this challenge, and this book is his motivational speech to all who dare sign up.

I bought it my first year of NaNo-ing, and it is always part of my survival kit. For obvious reasons. By now I know it almost by heart, but I still open it now and then and read for motivation and a good laugh. Yes, it's that funny!

 
stuffed animal and rose - the perfect Valentine's Day present
stuffed animal and rose - the perfect Valentine's Day present

Meet Bunny

- my writing totem

I first wrote about this striped bunny in a different article, and mentioned how much I would like one. My boyfriend (now husband) then bought him for me as a Valentine's Day present, and since then he has been my writing totem. Meaning that he sits next to me whenever I sit down to write. His name is Bunny. Very original, I know...

The idea of a writing totem is probably alien and silly-sounding to a lot of you. But let me explain how it works for me. When Bunny is present it is a reminder that I need to get serious. It is writing time. He is someone that looks at me but doesn't disturb me. I can tell him my ideas out loud, without the fear of judgement and worse - fake excitement. You can read more about using stuffed animals as a writing aid in the above-mentioned article.

I don't put Bunny in the box. He sits on top of it, so I can use him for inspiration also before the event.

Photo: My own.

Get your own Bunny

Schylling Stripes The Long Earred Bunny
Schylling Stripes The Long Earred Bunny

Because he is ridiculously cute. Because he actually helps. Because he has stripes and long ears (who doesn't like a striped, long-eared bunny?). But most importantly - because you can't have mine!

 

What about you?

Do you use a writing totem?

See results

What else goes into my survival kit?

Oh so many things! But mainly things that will in some way aid me on my way to becoming a novelist.

  • A scented candle. Sounds weird, I'm sure. But I have come to enjoy a scented candle by my side when I'm writing. As soon as I light the candle and its scent start spreading around the room, I start feeling inspired and my fingers itch to start writing.

    OK, not always. But sometimes.

    OK, so I just like the smell.

  • Leftover Halloween candy. I try not to reward myself with food, but it does seem to be the most effective incentive to get me through the writing of the day.

    And we all know sugar and caffeine give the inspiration a bit of a boost. What I need to remember is that it doesn't last long and the inevitable sugar crash is bad. Really bad.

  • A new pen. Not necessarily a fancy and expensive one, but I always try nearly all the pens in the shop before settling for one I like. It needs to glide easily across the paper, not bleed ink, and have a nice colour. The last few years I mostly go for black or blue, but my first novel was drafted almost entirely in green ink.
  • A knitted poncho. I have a gorgeous (store bought) knitted poncho that I somehow started associating with NaNoWriMo, and therefore now goes in my kit. It is perfect for when the nights start getting chilly but I'm too lazy to turn the heater up.
  • Fuzzy socks. Because they're fuzzy. And they go on your feet.

A book of names - The (not so) secret ingredient!

The Name Book: Over 10,000 Names - Their Meanings, Origins, and Spiritual Significance
The Name Book: Over 10,000 Names - Their Meanings, Origins, and Spiritual Significance

This is so useful when trying to come up with names for characters! Here are more than 10,000 names collected in one book, including the origin and meaning of each name.

Next time you need a new character name, just grab this book and open up to a random page. Or use it to do more extensive research for those times when a character's name needs to be just right. I keep a copy close to me at all times during NaNoWriMo, as I don't want to waste precious time trying to come up with a name from thin air.

Oh, and another thing: this can be used to freak out your parents or your partner! Have fun! (or you can search Amazon for a name book with less photos of babies on the front - but this is really the best one out there, if you ask me).

 

Random goodness for my NaNoWriMo care package:

Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 3 in x 3 in, Marrakesh Collection, 5 Pads/Pack (654-5SSAN)
Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 3 in x 3 in, Marrakesh Collection, 5 Pads/Pack (654-5SSAN)

Colourful post-it notes are a must! As I write I often come up with little subplots or ideas for character traits. I need to quickly scribble these down somewhere other than in the notebook or computer, so I keep post-it notes all over the place. I colour code them with one colour for plots, one for character ideas, one for settings etc.

 
Teacher Created Resources Gold Stars Foil Stickers, Gold (1276)
Teacher Created Resources Gold Stars Foil Stickers, Gold (1276)

I give myself a gold star in my diary every time I reach my daily word count goal. A little juvenile, a little embarrassing, and a whole lot awesome!

 

Food.

Yes, you will need to eat. No, you may not feel like cooking. This is why I always stock up on quick and easy instant meals.

One thing you are pressed for in this challenge, is time. Especially if you're in school, have a full-time job and/ or have kids. At the moment I do have a job, but no one else to rely on me, so I don't feel bad for making loads of instant foods. But I always try to have something healthy now and then.

  • Granola bars and protein bars. For the times when you just. can't. get. away. from. the. computer.
  • A wide variety of instant soups. Ahh, the pure genius of mugs, powder and a kettle...
  • Oatmeal! I love a hot oatmeal porridge with honey and grated ginger on top. It is quick, easy to make and - bonus! - healthy!
  • Dry pasta and ready-made pasta sauces from the supermarket. Or you can pre-make your own pasta sauces from scratch and freeze them until you need them.
  • I also buy lots of fresh fruit for a quick and healthy snack. But this doesn't go in the kit, but on the kitchen counter.
  • The year I did this challenge in Australia, it was obviously nearing summer, not winter. So I stocked up on iced teas and froze some coffee in ice cube trays to put in a glass of vanilla soy milk for a variation on iced coffee.

Sea Tech 16GB Wristband USB Flash Memory Drive, Black (4998650)
Sea Tech 16GB Wristband USB Flash Memory Drive, Black (4998650)

Don't forget to back up your novel. Regularly. I usually end my writing sessions by backing the day's writing up to a USB bracelet. A bracelet like this makes it easy to carry around with you, which is especially handy if you have to use different computers.

This one is 16 GB and will store your whole novel and so much more you might need - and not need - for your writing adventure.

 

Tea!

Sure, coffee gives me both energy and inspiration, but the sad truth is that I can't drink it in the evening without lying awake half the night with twitchy legs and bulging eyes. So at some point during the day I switch to tea.

There's just something about having a steaming mug next to the computer that feels so reassuring.

And I love tea, so that's fine. My favourites vary, but I always come back to herbal teas. Drinking a tasty herbal tea feels like I'm giving myself a comforting treat.

Novelist At Work - Enter at own risk!

NOVELIST AT WORK Warning Sign book writer story sign gag funny gift writing
NOVELIST AT WORK Warning Sign book writer story sign gag funny gift writing

Let others know you are not available while writing with this 12" x 8" sign from Amazon. Mount on the door or simply lean against your laptop or monitor.

Then remove when happy to be distracted...

 

So, tell me:

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?

See results

Finally: I find quotes that inspire me and write them down on little post-it notes attached to random items in my survival kit - All photos in this gallery are

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Personally, I find quotes about writing inspirational, whether they are funny, educational or spiritual.When I grab something from the kit in November, it sometimes comes with a random post-it quote that will (usually) inspire me to get back to writing.This is a truly inspiring quote.
Personally, I find quotes about writing inspirational, whether they are funny, educational or spiritual.
Personally, I find quotes about writing inspirational, whether they are funny, educational or spiritual.
When I grab something from the kit in November, it sometimes comes with a random post-it quote that will (usually) inspire me to get back to writing.
When I grab something from the kit in November, it sometimes comes with a random post-it quote that will (usually) inspire me to get back to writing.
This is a truly inspiring quote.
This is a truly inspiring quote.

2013 was my fifth year of doing NaNoWriMo. How about you? - And what are your NaNoWriMo essentials?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      Me too! Good luck!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      The kit makes the already busy everyday life a little easier (and more fun) during the hectic month of writing.

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      That's a good idea!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      That's a good idea!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      The kit makes it easier, and I also find putting it together puts me in the "writing mood".

      Best of luck to you, enjoy your first NaNoWriMo!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      The kit makes it easier, and I also find putting it together puts me in the "writing mood".

      Best of luck to you, enjoy your first NaNoWriMo!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      I'm glad to hear it! Best of luck to you and your novel!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      Yes, try again! It is heaps of fun, and you have nothing to lose :)

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      I also usually start without a plot. I love exploring and discovering the story as I write it.

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      I'm the same. I usually write on paper first, and then type it into the computer later. I just don't type fast enough to get my ideas down before they disappear...

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      Have fun, and good luck!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 2 years ago

      Thank you! Music really is a great inspiration...

    • velzipmur profile image

      Shelly Wyatt 2 years ago from Maryland

      Really excited to get started this coming November!!

    • WeeCatCreations1 profile image

      Susan Caplan McCarthy 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I've done NaNoWriMo twice. I haven't thought about creating a survival kit, but you have some great suggestions for making the intense writing process more manageable.

    • Nora Anthony profile image

      Nora Anthony 2 years ago from Spring Valley, NY

      Technically I would be doing Nano this year sine I have to submit three partial manuscripts for school (I'm doing an MFA!). I love the idea of a kit! Especially the interesting parts like having scented candles or a pancho. I want a shirt or hat that just says the word WRITE on it to keep me focused.

    • profile image

      Madison 2 years ago

      Thanks so much for this post!

      This is going to by my first year doing NaNoWriMo and I need to start putting my kit together.

      I know it's going to be tough, but I'm really excited!

    • maguamwangi profile image

      magua mwangi 2 years ago from kenya

      excellent hub. first time to hear about it and no doubt it sounds surreal, this year i will be in!!

    • TanjaCrouch profile image

      TanjaCrouch 2 years ago

      This is a fantastic Hub. I started NANO late last year (I didn't find out about it until after it had started) but love the concept and have participated in the smaller CampNamo's. Your Hub is really well thought out and presented and makes me want to try it again this year from the beginning. If I can think of a plot worth working on, I'll be on board. Thank you again.

    • Carol Houle profile image

      Carol Houle 2 years ago from Montreal

      I also must have new pen and notebook. Often begin with character's names, traits, and appearance. Then, without clue, without plot, I begin writing. Problem is, 50K words is never enough. I can't stop until it's all there (usually 3 months). All the while, like you said, living in 2 worlds. I am happiest living twice at once!

    • profile image

      IrishPenn 2 years ago

      I absolutely love Nano! I've done it every year since 2006. Last year(2013) has been the only win. :). But I still do it, much to my husbands confusion, every year. It's fun, it's training in a sense. And there's no real cost involved other than a pen, paper, and your computer. And technically, you only need one form of writing. It find my writing flows better on paper.

    • Leenie Pat profile image

      Leenie Pat 2 years ago

      This is fabulous! Exactly what I need in my life!

    • daxamite profile image

      James Livingood 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I am going to try out this NaNo thing November! Sounds like fun.

    • lafleurdeplume profile image

      Sarah LaFleur 2 years ago from Chicago-land

      I also have a playlist of songs that inspire me... every one of my novels has a soundtrack that gets me 'in the mood' so to speak... love the list and I wish you luck for a successful NaNo experience this November!

    • profile image

      FallenRobin 3 years ago

      This is a great article, I never really considered that I might need a survival kit. I definitely feel better about signing up with this information. Thank you for this amazing lens!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @John Dyhouse: That is understandable. Best of luck with your novel!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      Only just tackling my first novel, I wouldn't feel up to the madness of writing that much in a month.

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @sconstantino: I love my bunny too :) Glad I could be of help!

    • profile image

      sconstantino 3 years ago

      A book of names! Brilliant! I always struggle to come up with names for my characters, and I never really like them. Plus, I still have the book from when I was pregnant! Thanks!

      P.S. I love your bunny :)

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @kitkat17720: Awesome! Good luck :)

    • profile image

      kitkat17720 3 years ago

      Yes in the young writers program for my first year

    • KathyZ1 profile image

      KathyZ1 3 years ago

      Interesting lens. Thanks for your sharing.

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @nonya222: Just dive in, that's what I do :-) It's messy, but so much fun! And there is no shame in not completing. Good luck!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @smine27: Thank you!

    • Aibrean82 profile image
      Author

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @ColettaTeske: See you around the NaNoWriMo website next year ;-)

    • profile image

      nonya222 3 years ago

      I chickened out last year and haven't given it a thought this year, hmmmm, maybe it is time to dive in head first.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Good luck on your writing!

    • profile image

      ColettaTeske 3 years ago

      Last year was the first time I heard about NaNoWriMo. It sounds like an intensely creative way to spend a month. I won't be joining this year. NaNoWriMo sounds just like RocketSquids and I need a short break before I do another fast-track writing seminar. You may see me around NaNoWriMo next year. I like a good challenge. Thank you, @Aibrean82, for the informative and motivating article!

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      i love nano. I don't usually make the word goal because i'm not that disciplined. But i still find it to be a helpful exercise.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      No sorry I won't be joining you, but I would love too, but honestly I wouldn't be able to find enough time to write, between Squidoo and working on our farm I have very little spare time left.

      But great on you doing it, I will be cheering you along the way.

      Your writing Totem, that's a loverly idea to spur you along the way, also a great gift for valentine day.