NANOWRIMO SURVIVAL GUIDE: Assemble an emergency kit

While I hope that no wrimo will ever suffer a melt-down mid-month, it’s best to be prepared! Therefore, spend some time this week assembling a writerly emergency kit.

I personally haven’t done this, but one idea is to find a box—nothing too big; something like a shoebox will do—and fill it with things that are comforting and inspiring. Maybe a copy of your favorite book? Or a few bars of your favorite chocolate? You can also try copying down some of your favorite inspirational quotes onto a sheet of paper or a small notebook, and keeping that in there. And why not, throw in a shock blanket, some stress balls, and maybe a live puppy or two. You might be in need of some snuggles and a few wet kisses.

You can also try compiling something more virtual. Maybe start a Pinterest board! Or a Tumblr. Upload images that remind you of your characters and locales. Reblog sage advice from seasoned writers that you admire. Or write some reminders to yourself! I did that a few years back, and would look over it whenever I felt I needed a perspective correction or something to knock me out of self-pity. I found it very effective.

Have fun with your kit! Don’t feel the need to be limited by what I’ve just suggested. Use it rather as a springboard. After all, you know what you’ll need in the kit better than anyone else.

Readers — What’s going into your kit? This is what’s going into mine. (And yup, I’m gonna be compiling a physical kit this year!)

  • Signed copy of Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints. And maybe American Born Chinese as well, for good measure.
  • Several bars of Madécasse chocolate. And maybe some Sharffen Berger too.
  • Print-out of my above-mentioned reminder-to-self.
  • Print-out of my favorite writing-related quotes.
  • My tartan wool blanket—if I’m not already wrapped in it come November.

12 thoughts on “NANOWRIMO SURVIVAL GUIDE: Assemble an emergency kit”

  1. Hi, Jennifer…

    An emergency kit for survival during NaNoWriMo…

    …what a good idea!

    May I offer a suggestion about something to include?

    …a kitchen timer!

    A knowledge worker named Francesco Cirillo figured out
    that the brain works much better if you give it
    a 5-minute break every 25 minutes…

    …and it’s true!

    I first tried his system about a year ago and found
    that I got lots more (and better!) work done,
    so now I use it all the time…

    …another benefit:

    Once you’re skilled at making his system work for you,
    you’ll find you’ve also developed an uncanny ability
    to estimate how much time any project will take…

    …and you’ll have complete confidence in your ability
    to complete it right on schedule!

    You can read more about it at

    It’s helped me a whole lot…

    Maybe it will help you some, too…

    warmest regards…



    Another thing that helps me a lot
    is a big “thermometer” on the wall…

    I make them out of white shelf paper
    and colored marking pens…

    And my favorite thing to do is “color in”
    the number of words I got done today!



    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Elizabeth! I’ve heard of the timer technique before, and am curious to try it out this year. Also, I like your “themometer” idea. It’s a nice way to visually remind yourself of how much you’ve accomplished.

  2. I set up an inspiration display board my first year with pictures of my locations, buildings, and even a floorplan of one residence, lots of inspirational writerly quotes, a word count thermometer, and lots of NaNo graphics. The pictures really helped when I was bogged down.

  3. I’ve already started printing out pictures that remind me of certain characters/locations in my novel. Sort of a twist on the thermometer, I think I am going to do a paper ring and hang it around my office as I work – 1 ring for every thousand words. I’m definitely putting a bottle of champagne in the bottom of my box! Depending on how successful I am, It’ll be time to party or cry sadly to myself in the bathtub once the month is over.

    1. Haha, champagne bottle! Nice. :p The way I see it, attempting Nanowrimo is something to celebrate regardless of whether you hit the 50,000 word mark or not. You’re writing and creating original work, and that’s what really matters. :) Best of luck, all the same!

      1. Thanks! You as well :-) I’ve been enjoying your survival guide posts by the way. They’ve been helping me get psyched up!

        1. Thank you for the kind words! I’m happy that you’re enjoying these posts. I didn’t think anyone would pay attention to them, haha.

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