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Creating a Nanowrimo Survival Kit

Every year in at least one of the Nanowrimo forums you’ll find a thread talking about people’s Nanowrimo survival kits. A Nanowrimo survival kit is a big box full of items that will help you through Nanowrimo. Unlike most kits, not all of it will be in a box. Some of these items are better off in the fridge or cupboards around your home. Some should be carried with you all the time. Today I’ve created an example Nanowrimo survival kit, which contains many items most Nanoers find useful during the month of November.

  • Ramen Noodles- Mr. Noodles are a quick, simple meal to make when you’re deprived of sleep and chained to your computer. Picking up a big box of these noodles is a good idea. Even if you don’t eat them all in November, they’re good to have around when you’re tired and sick. Think like a college student–not a lot of time, not a lot of money. Embrace the noodles.
  • Stickers- These are for your calendar to mark key achievements. Some people have different kinds of stickers for when they hit different word goals: one kind for their daily word goal, one kind for their weekly word goal, and others for major points like halfway and of course 50, 000. Usually these go on a calendar or a chart of some sort for the month.
  • Spiral Notebook– This is to carry around with you everywhere, and to keep beside your desk. Use it when you have an idea that doesn’t have a place in the story you’re working on for Nanowrimo. Write down little things you hear people say on the subway that are particularly interesting. Collect dares from the forums that you can use in your Nanovel. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t go anywhere without your notebook next month.
  • Pens– These of course go with the notebook. You should have a couple in your writing space at all times, and you should bring at least one with you everywhere you go. I don’t like to leave my house unless I have at least two pens, even when it’s not Nanowrimo season.
  • Sugary Treat of Choice– Some people like chocolate bars. Some people like hot chocolate. Some people, who may or may not be freaks, prefer strange gummy candies to chocolate. Whatever your favourite sweet thing is, make sure you have a stash for next month. These will be used both to reward hitting massive word goals, and to inspire you in moments of complete desperation.
  • Caffeinated Beverage of Choice– Some people don’t like caffeine at all. Most Nanoers aren’t those kinds of people, so don’t forget to grab an extra box of tea or coffee for next month. You’ll need to load up on caffeine if you’re going to write 50, 000 words while working or going to school, and time spent going to the store could be better spent writing.
  • Dried fruits– And of course other food items which will aren’t going to rot too quickly. It’s convenient to have a stash of healthy snacks. Try to pick ones that won’t grease up your keyboard. When November hits, keep a bowl of healthy snacks on your desk so you don’t end up just eating crap while typing up your novel.
  • Story Totem– Some people have several of these. I sometimes don’t even have one. Creating a totem for your novel–an object of some sort which represents your story–is a good idea. It’s something physical that you can hold in your hands and play with when you get stuck. It’s a great way to keep yourself inspired.

There are dozens of other things you can include in your own personal Nanowrimo survival kit. I haven’t included all of the items in my list, and there are probably things you’ll find incredibly helpful that I haven’t listed here. But this is a really, really good place to start. Remember, Nanowrimo is all about creating a novel in a month, but you’re going to need some things other than a story to make it easier on yourself.

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What’s in your Nanowrimo survival kit?

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10 Things You Should do Today

In case you haven’t noticed,Nanowrimo has refreshed and opened its forums, though the full site isn’t quite ready yet. With this news in mind, I’ve made up a list of ten things you should do today–or at least this week–to prepare for Nanowrimo. After all, you want to make the most of the experience, and have maximum fun time.

1~ Sign up or log into Nanowrimo. Check out all the pretty new participant icons. I swooned so much I had to show my boyfriend. Even he agrees that the participation icons are prettier. Or maybe he just said it to please me; I imagine he really hates Nanowrimo with all the attention he doesn’t get. Anyway. Go update your account information.

2~ Make friends. Go check out the forums belonging to your genre, your age group and your locale. Introduce yourself in a few places. Make conversation. Join conversation. Find out when your local kick off is. Friends are awesome, and there are few places with as many wonderful people as the Nanowrimo forums. Although, we might all be insane. Who knows?

3~ Brainstorm. You might already know the main plot of your story, but either way, it’s still a good idea to brainstorm some more. Don’t be afraid to explore new options in your mind map. If you pull out your binder covered in dust and realize that you don’t want to write quite the same story any more, it’s okay. There’s always time to change your mind. Even when you’re already halfway through. And the more wacky potential ideas you have, the more choices you have when you get stuck.

4~ Write for fifteen minutes. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of writing regularly now to prepare for Nanowrimo. If you want to be a published author, you should probably get into the habit of writing regularly anyway. Fifteen minutes is a small amount of time. You can do anything for fifteen minutes, and most people can find fifteen spare minutes in their day. It’ll get the creative muscles flowing and hopefully give you ideas for the coming month.

5~ Visit with your family and friends. Make a point of doing social calls this month and going to see your family. You’re going to end up spending a lot of next month sitting indoors at a computer, and you should make sure they’re not offended. While you’re there, tell them that you’re participating in Nanowrimo this year. With any luck, they’ll be supportive and encourage you. If they don’t support it, then go ahead and do it anyway to spite them.

6~ Do all your work for any classes you have. If possible, do a bunch of your work early so that you don’t have to worry as much about school when writing comes around. Trust me, it will make your life easier come November first. Besides, being the first person to hand something in once in a while is awesome.

7~ Acquire a notebook. Sometimes these can be found in the depths of your room, or gotten for free in certain places, and of course you can buy one. Pick one that suits you. Carry it everywhere. Make it specifically for details or ideas you can use during Nanowrimo. Carrying a notebook is always a good idea for a writer anyway. Make Nanowrimo your excuse to buy yourself a pretty new notebook.

8~ Try some new writing software. You’ll find that on the forums there are some special offers for Nanowrimo participants. Most of these are demos for writing software still in beta. You don’t have to try one, but you should at least take a look. This year I am going to try an online program called Yarny. I don’t usually try the new softwares, but I think this year it’s time for a change. I’ve been using Open Office for a number of years and I think it’s time to experiment with something new.

9~ Go for a long walk. After all, next month you’re probably going to be inside on a computer most of the time. I don’t know about you, but for me it’ll be cold after that. Nobody spends very much time outside when it’s cold. So make sure to get a good dose of exercise, scenery and fresh air between now and November 1st.

10~ Buy Mr. Noodles. Lots of Mr. Noodles. This will be essential when you’re up at midnight and looking for something quick to eat. It will also be part of your Nanowrimo Suvival Kit, which we’ll talk more about next week.

Remember that Nanowrimo is only 17 days away now. What does that mean? It means that you have both lots of time to get ready and no time at all. Hopefully I’ll be able to make your Nanowrimo experience a bit simpler this year.

What do you usually do to prepare for Nanowrimo?