First, 40,000 gallons of coffee.
Got that? Okay, now we can move on.
In all seriousness, there’s really nothing that you need for NaNoWriMo. All you really need is your brain and something to write with…a computer, a notebook and pen, a crayon and some old newspaper—it doesn’t matter. As long as you have a way to get your thoughts and your ideas from inside your mind to “down on paper”, you’re set. But let’s be honest—sometimes having a few things can make the journey a little bit easier.
So, what else might you need?
You can do all your tracking, with achievement badges included, on the official NaNoWriMo website, www.nanowrimo.org. But if you’re anything like me, maybe you think better on paper. For me, it really helps me out to have something written down on a physical paper/notebook/planner vs. looking at it on my computer or on a website. Call me old fashioned, but it works for me, and I find that having written it down in ink helps me to hold myself more accountable…especially if I keep my planner on my desk or somewhere where I can see it easily.
Your planner for NaNo doesn’t need to be fancy! It just needs to be something easy to read where you can write down your daily goal and daily word count in order to see how what you’re doing is measuring up to your goal. You can go full tilt Erin Condren or Happy Planner with the washi tape and the stickers and the themed weeks if that’s more your style, or you can pick up something simple and straightforward if that works better for you. I just use this plain, lightweight monthly planner that I picked up from Wal-Mart for a few dollars because it has big squares where I can write my blog post schedule, my NaNo goal/daily output, and anything else work related.
You can also purchase and print out planner pages for the month of November if you don’t want or need a planner for the entire year. You can find tons of great options on Etsy and even some NaNoWriMo specific ones on sites like scribe-kit.com.
And of course, you can always opt for the digital version on your phone, tablet, or computer, as well. While you can use whatever planning system works for you, you will definitely need to be doing some planning, so it’s a good idea to have some sort of system in place.
A NaNoWriMo Specific Notebook
Again, this isn’t a hardcore necessity. The world isn’t going to burn if you don’t have a notebook dedicated specifically to NaNo. But it could help. If you’re anything like me, you have character sketches, outlines, randomly jotted ideas, and half-written scenes scattered across ten different notebooks/documents in ten different places in the house. Before NaNo gets into full swing, it can be helpful to pick out a notebook designated specifically to NaNoWriMo and try to gather up as much info as you’ll need into that notebook: character sketches, ideas, plot points, important things to remember. This can also be helpful to carry around with you for when inspiration strikes while you’re out and about or you get stuck in a waiting room or something and want to churn out a paragraph while you have a minute. If it’s in your NaNo notebook, it will be right where you need it to be when you sit down at the computer later and are ready to get back to work on it.
Plus, it’s another excuse to buy a super cute notebook or journal, right? What could possibly be wrong with that?
I picked up this notebook from Society6 because I felt that the design kind of went with the overall vibe of the novel I’m working on, so as you can see, it can also serve as a bit of an inspiration point and help get you a little bit more immersed in your fictional world. Or it can just be cute and make you happy—whichever you choose.
You could just write out the daily goal and then write how close you are to it directly on your planner, but if you want to spruce things up a bit and get really hardcore about your planning (okay, fine, a little hardcore), there are tons of options on Etsy for cute NaNoWriMo specific planner stickers that have blanks to fill in for goals, daily output, and even some that serve as reminders to back up your work or do research where needed.
These cute little accessories, like these that I ordered from FoxDoodle Sticker Company, can go the extra mile to keep you on track and make you happier to look at your planner.
Water and Snacks
Treat NaNo a little bit like a hiking trip or any other journey—you’re going to need sustenance! Sure, you’re not going to be away from civilization (probably) or locked away in one room for the entire month (okay, you might be), but it doesn’t hurt to stock up on snacks and drinks ahead of time so that you don’t have to waste time running to the store or bugging your husband to run to the store for you when you’re in the middle of a major writing spree. Make sure to have plenty of coffee or tea to brew, some sweets or whatever other snacks help get your brain going, and of course, drink plenty of water, because being well hydrated helps you think better. And you’re going to need to think.
Plus, the 40,000 gallons of aforementioned coffee are probably going to dehydrate you quite a bit.
A Support System
Whether you find your support system online though the NaNoWriMo site, via Twitter, through your friends, or your support system is your spouse or family, it’s always good to have at least one or two people on your side who know you’re doing NaNo and can cheer you on and talk you out of a dark hole on your bad days. Think about who is always there for you, and let them know you’re looking to achieve some major goals/dreams so they can root for you!
And don’t forget to stock up on the little things, like:
- Post-it notes
- Printer paper
- Printer ink
- Page flags
- (wow, why do all these things start with the letter P?)
- Flash Drives/Google Drive/some other place where you can back up your work and have an extra copy just in case something happens to your computer (seriously, you don’t want to put in all this hard work just to have malfunctioning technology rip it from your grasp at the last second).
So, again, these aren’t ride or die essentials for making it through NaNoWriMo, but they will definitely help out along the way…and we could all use an extra helping hand now and then!
Is anyone else doing NaNoWriMo? What do you consider your NaNo essentials/what do you think you’ll need? Let me know in the comments! You know I’d love to talk. <3