I don’t even get on a train without a survival kit of books, music, food, magazines, stationery and enough television downloaded to keep me going for all eventualities! So what on earth was I thinking last year when I embarked on thirty days of NaNoWriMo without a survival kit?!
- Pep Talk for Writers: Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo, offers this collection of 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative MoJo.
- Bird by Bird: A down-to-earth guide, this book offers instructions on writing and life. Short little essays make this the perfect collection for a busy NaNoWriMoer.
- The Poetry Pharmacy: There is a poetry prescription here for every emotional ailment so if you find yourself feeling insecure, glum or suffering from social overload during the NaNoWriMo process then this will be a useful companion to have by your side.
If these don’t take your fancy, there are four other books in my Creativity Book Club – one of which is completely free and has some top tips to see people through creative blocks!
Now you may already know that I’m a fan of preparing meals in advance when it comes to NaNoWriMo but it’s good to think about your snacks too. Here are some quick and easy options.
- Energy balls: Deliciously Ella has some energy ball recipes, which are quick to prepare and keep well. But if you’re short on time then they’re available to buy ready-made too.
- Fruit and nuts: Get a mixture of nuts, seeds and dried fruit to make some little snack jars. Quick, easy and with a little boost of protein. You can add some chocolate drops too for an extra little treat.
- Vegetable sticks with hummus: It doesn’t take long to chop up some carrots, peppers, cucumber and celery. Combine with some hummus and you’ve got a perfect little snack.
- Olives: As easy as a snack can get and pretty yummy too!
- Popcorn: A packet of popcorn kernels goes a long way and it’s easy to mix up the flavours to give yourself some variety throughout November. You can find a recipe to get you started in this video of healthy snack ideas by Naomi Smart.
Keeping hydrated can help to prevent tiredness, headaches and increase stamina (source: NHS) – essential for the writing marathon that is NaNoWriMo. So have some water by your side when you’re writing for a boost in brain power.
I like to have my favourite tea on hand as well when I am in the process of NaNoWriMo. It’s not something I drink all the time but for special occasions such as this then I treat myself to some Teapigs Pure Lemongrass tea. Naturally caffeine free and described as soothing, it’s the perfect choice for me! If that doesn’t tickle your taste buds, have a look at the other choices in their tea collection.
At points where you are really flagging then a motivational quote can really help to spur you on. You can get a writing-inspired motivational quote everyday throughout November here on Soothing Sense. Or follow me on Facebook and Twitter to receive a little burst of encouraging energy in your timeline.
For the times you’re too tired to pick up a book (even ones featuring short essays!), you can’t go wrong with a magazine. Writers’ Forum always feature a calendar, which will be perfect for keeping track of your NaNoWriMo progress. You’ll also find news about competitions, writing tips and interviews with established writers, which can all be really useful in helping you think about life post-NaNoWriMo!
It’s good to have some reading material to help you unwind too. I have gone for Breathe and I think you’ll find it a perfect choice because this month it features a little notebook with space for novel ideas!
Notebook, pens and stickers
Wilko always has the most lovely notebooks and they often feature inspirational quotes, which can be perfect to keep you feeling motivated through NaNoWriMo. It’s good to have a notebook to hand at all times so you can jot down ideas or sentences that pop into your head. Even a hundred words scribbled down in a spare five minutes would be a little bit closer to your word count each day. Stickers are great too. Make yourself a motivational wall chart and reward yourself with a sticker every 1000 words!
Now you might be thinking writing apps. And there are some great ones. As I mentioned before, I particularly love Scrivener, OmmWriter and FreeWriter. But really this section is all about avoiding distraction, staying motivated and making sure you get plenty of sleep so you don’t collapse from exhaustion! Here are my top three non-writing app recommendations for the task ahead.
- Focus: This is one of my favourite ever productivity apps! It helps you block distractions on your computer. It features inspirational quotes on the blocked out internet windows, which you can personalise to supercharge your motivation! Best of all, you can use it to force you to have breaks too … it’s honestly not a bad idea once in a while even in the midst of NaNoWriMo!
- Forest: This stops you being distracted by your phone or tablet. But unlike Focus, you’re encouraged to stay off your device by planting a virtual tree. If you use your device then your tree dies! It might not sound like a big deal but I’ve not found anything as effective on my tablet to keep me away from distractions! They’re also responsible for SleepTown, which works on a similar basis and encourages you to get a good night’s sleep.
- Headspace: This is the perfect tool to keep you relaxed and on track during the NaNoWriMo process. The free version gives you the basics. With a subscription, you can also access packs on creativity, productivity, focus, patience, sleep and stress. The perfect tonic for moments of overwhelm!
This is about blankets, bubble bath and accessories for mindful moments. The truth is that even in NaNoWriMo, you can’t write all the time! Our non-robotic minds and bodies will thank us for a bit of time out. I made a little video on ten alternatives to adult colouring books and this will give you some idea of the kind of relaxation tools you might want to include in your NaNoWriMo survival kit. You can check out my NaNoWriMo Survival Kit video at the same time!
I recommend having at least two playlists but you may want more!
- Your favourite motivational tunes: If you want some inspiration you can check out my inspirational playlist. It’s not quite finished yet so feel free to Tweet me with your suggestions!
- Your novel’s soundscape: This can really help put you in the right emotional frame of mind when you’re feeling stuck and can really help the writing to flow again! Again, you can find an example playlist right here for my 2017 novel soundscape.
A prompts jar and story dice
This is one of my favourite additions to my Survival Kit. I got a little glass jar and popped some prompts onto coloured lollipop sticks (although you could use paper – see the video to see this alternative). These could be chapter headings or you could write down words around the following themes to help prompt you.
- Action words
So, for example, if you pick out the word “Anger”, you could write a scene in which your character expresses anger. You might pick out a prompt with an obstacle, for example, maybe someone has lost their house keys. Write about it!
I have also thrown in some story dice into my survival kit. I got mine from Tiger and each dice features an image that can act as a prompt.
Hopefully with my prompts jar and story dice, I will be well placed to beat writer’s block!
The one remaining thing …
According to NaNoWriMo, in order to reward myself the wellness badge, I also have to do some exercise. Many writers find that a few moments out in the fresh air and away from the screen can help the creative juices start to flow again when they get stuck. So pack your walking boots or, if you really can’t bring yourself to step away from the screen for too long, turn up the volume on your motivational soundtrack and dance your NaNoWriMo stress away!
If you’re still feeling underprepared for the mammoth task of NaNoWriMo then head over to my Preptober article for some more tips on how prepare for a winning NaNoWriMo. And let me know what you’ll be including in your NaNoWriMo Survival Kit below.