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Make Your Own Nanowrimo Survival Kit

Ada is a magazine writer who has also done NaNoWriMo five times.


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!

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

Stuffed animal and rose - the perfect Valentine's Day present! Foto: My own

Stuffed animal and rose - the perfect Valentine's Day present! Foto: My own

What about you?

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!

Random goodness for my NaNoWriMo care package:


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.

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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.


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.

So, tell me:

© 2013 Aibrean82

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

Esellyn on February 26, 2019:

My essential thing that I've always associated with nano (this was school's fault) hot cocoa. My school would let the ELAR teachers give the students hot cocoa every time we had a writing day.

I think it's my fourth or so.

Aibrean82 (author) on October 26, 2014:

Me too! Good luck!

Aibrean82 (author) on October 26, 2014:

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

Aibrean82 (author) on October 26, 2014:

That's a good idea!

Aibrean82 (author) on October 26, 2014:

That's a good idea!

Aibrean82 (author) on October 26, 2014:

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 (author) on October 26, 2014:

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 (author) on October 26, 2014:

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

Aibrean82 (author) on October 26, 2014:

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

Aibrean82 (author) on October 26, 2014:

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

Aibrean82 (author) on October 26, 2014:

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 (author) on October 26, 2014:

Have fun, and good luck!

Aibrean82 (author) on October 26, 2014:

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

Shelly Wyatt from Maryland on October 19, 2014:

Really excited to get started this coming November!!

Susan Caplan McCarthy from Massachusetts, USA on October 01, 2014:

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 from Spring Valley, NY on September 30, 2014:

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.

Madison on September 30, 2014:

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!

magua mwangi from kenya on September 29, 2014:

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

TanjaCrouch on September 29, 2014:

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 from Montreal on September 29, 2014:

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!

IrishPenn on September 29, 2014:

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 on September 27, 2014:

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

James Livingood from Seattle, WA on September 27, 2014:

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

Sarah LaFleur from Chicago-land on September 27, 2014:

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!

FallenRobin on July 05, 2014:

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 (author) on February 27, 2014:

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

John Dyhouse from UK on February 26, 2014:

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

Aibrean82 (author) on November 02, 2013:

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

sconstantino on November 01, 2013:

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 (author) on October 27, 2013:

@kitkat17720: Awesome! Good luck :)

kitkat17720 on October 22, 2013:

Yes in the young writers program for my first year

KathyZ1 on October 16, 2013:

Interesting lens. Thanks for your sharing.

Aibrean82 (author) on October 05, 2013:

@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 (author) on October 05, 2013:

@smine27: Thank you!

Aibrean82 (author) on October 05, 2013:

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

nonya222 on October 03, 2013:

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

Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on October 02, 2013:

Good luck on your writing!

ColettaTeske on October 02, 2013:

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!

Dawn from Maryland, USA on October 01, 2013:

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 from New Zealand on October 01, 2013:

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.

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