NaNoWriMo is just two weeks away! Hopefully, by now you have taken the steps necessary to get ready for NaNoWriMo. At the very least, you may have a story idea picked out. Even if you don’t, that’s okay! Half of the fun of NaNoWriMo is that feeling of panic over creating a story and then the joy of when that story appears on the screen. However, knowing your story is only part of being successful at NaNoWriMo. Having participated in NaNoWriMo for seven years, I have learned the importance of having a NaNoWriMo survival kit. But what exactly is a NaNoWriMo survival kit? Why do you need one?
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NaNoWriMo Survival Kit
A NaNoWriMo survival kit is a collection of items to make the 30-day writing challenge go smoother. What you put in your survival kit will greatly depend on your needs, so there is no one perfect list. Some items, like snacks and drinks, are a must. Others are more tailored to the writer. These are the items that I must have in my NaNoWriMo survival kit.
I can’t even imagine a NaNoWriMo survival kit without snacks. Snacks are what propel my writing – well that and copious amounts of caffeine. Having a mix of snacks to keep you fueled as you spend hours writing over the month is a good idea. Make sure it’s a mix of healthy and unhealthy snacks. Buying junk food ahead of time works great, as you know it won’t go bad – just don’t eat it early! When it comes to junk food, items that aren’t too messy work best. You don’t want to drop dip or other items on your keyboard or notebook. One of my favorite snacks is Snap Pea Crisps, especially the Wasabi Ranch and Parmesan Roasted Garlic flavors.
To ensure that you have healthy snacks, hit up the store the day before NaNoWriMo to grab your favorite goodies. My go-to healthy snack is carrots and hummus, though any fruit and vegetable will do. I highly recommend washing and chopping all of your fruit and veggies ahead of time, as this will allow for quick and easy snacking. Hit up the store again when you are running low, so you will always have healthy snacks available.
Staying hydrated is important no matter what you are doing. To keep up with daily water consumption, keep a water bottle with you at all times. Set timed reminders if needed to make sure you are drinking throughout the day. I know it can be easy to get distracted and go too long without drinking. Have other options available as well, such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and pop. My go-to drinks are Dr Pepper and flavored hot chocolate.
Notebooks and Pens
An absolute necessity for NaNoWriMo. Keep pens and a notebook within reach at all times. This way, even when you are away from the computer, you can jot down any ideas that pop into your head. If you prefer to use digital options, that is fine. The important thing is to find what works best for you to keep notes.
If I were to only be able to pick one thing for my survival kit, it would be flash drives. Snacks and notebooks are great, but I need flash drives to keep backups of my work just in case something happens to my computer. To be extra safe, keep multiple flash drives. Just be sure to update them all, that way, if you lose one then you will have another one ready to go. How often you back up your work is up to you, but I prefer to do it at least once a day, more if I have a word-count-heavy day.
Dictionary and thesaurus
While it is important to ignore your inner editor when doing NaNoWriMo, sometimes you just have to stop and look up how to spell a word or find an alternative. This is when having a dictionary and thesaurus nearby comes in handy. Sure, you could look them up online, but that often leads to getting distracted, that’s why I prefer physical books for this.
Do you get cold fingers? Sitting at a computer typing away for several hours will often lead me to have cold hands. A great way to keep them warm but still be able to effectively type is to wear fingerless gloves.
While the focus is on writing, it’s good to take breaks and this is where adding some entertainment to your survival kit comes into play. Don’t pick something that will be too big of a distraction. Choose something that will allow you to take 30 minutes or maybe even an hour to take your focus away from your writing and relax. I include my Nintendo 3DS and Rune Factory 2 as entertainment items in my NaNoWriMo survival kit. Though I thoroughly enjoy playing this game, I can easily stop after 20 minutes or so and get back to writing.
I tend to want quiet when I am writing. However, I have found that listening to certain music really boosts my productivity and creativity. If I had to pick one thing to listen to while writing, it would be African Tapestries by Hennie Bekker. This music is so soothing to listen to and it just makes me want to write. If you have something that tends to get your creative juices flowing, then consider including it in your survival kit.
This isn’t an absolute necessity, however, it can be a good motivator. Honestly, reaching 50,000 words in 30 days is reward enough for most, but for an extra push or just because, you can create a reward chart. If you do this, I recommend doing just one or two big rewards. What those rewards are is up to you. They can be a new book, a T-shirt, dinner out, or maybe even a movie night. It all depends on what you would like to reward yourself with.
As you can see, I made up a reward chart for myself. Using a simple calendar layout, I marked the two reward days. Though I have yet to figure out what those rewards will be, those will be the word counts that I must reach in order to get those rewards. I also included a daily reward. This was something I tried last year and it worked out quite well. The daily reward is fairly simple, as long as I reach my word count goal for that day, I get a REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups. Buying the 30-count bag that is available for Halloween makes this work out perfectly.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? What items will you be putting in your survival kit?