It's that time of year again!
I decided to take on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year when a story idea came to me smack in the middle of writing another novel. The other novel had stalled in its plot, but I kept writing drivel or whatever I could muster on the chance day I actually sat down to work on it.
Then one day, I'm not sure how, I came upon an article about a strange, old house in a suburb of New York. The story goes that no one knew who lived in the house, but whoever was there (or whatever was there) was posing mannequins on the porch, fully dressed mannequins with props like books, birdcages, and milk cartons. Sometimes the mannequins were sitting in rocking chairs, other times they'd point to random places within the neighborhood.
As you can imagine, my mind went whirrling with story possibilities. I couldn't get it out of my head. So one day I mapped out the whole thing (a first for me), said good riddance to the other novel I was working on, and here I am now, five days into NaNoWriMo and slightly behind (Why am I never busy until November comes around?).
Whether you're dipping your toes into the NaNo waters this month or continuing a novel you're already working on, here are some November writer's essentials.
Maybe you have a soundtrack for your novel or maybe you like perusing the playlists on Spotify. Whatever the case, music can help set the tone and mood. I've found that instrumental music works best while I'm writing, but I love putting together soundtracks, just cuz. Also, I just found out about this Hufflepuff Common Room ambient mixer! I'm listening to it right now.
Whatever gets you going and helps you maintain your writing energy levels. Maybe that means a cold shower first thing in the morning, then loads of coffee or energy drinks. Or perhaps a green smoothie and some almonds help you go the extra mile. I favor coffee first thing in the morning, then maybe a hot chai tea with milk and honey. If I'm feeling naughty, I'll sneak in a Dr. Pepper.
Even if the majority of your writing is done on-screen, don't neglect to have a few brand spanking new pens at your side, just in case you need to scribble a note or add one more thing to your grocery list.
The more the merrier, I say. I have notebooks scattered all over the house, so I'm never at a loss for one. This is especially important during NaNo because you never know when an idea will hit you during the middle of the night. If you'd like, dedicate a special notebook to your NaNo novel. Mine's a pink Moleskine and I write notes, plot lines, ideas, character sketches, and whatever else might come in handy later on.
Setting up your writing space or yourself with something specific will act as a trigger and signal to your brain that it's writing time. I roll on a mix of pumpkin, hazlenut, and rosewood; once the scent hits my nose I know it's time to sit down and get typing. The same might work for you or you can try lighting a candle, wearing a special piece of jewelry, or decorating your writing area with knick nacks that inspire you.
And speaking of inspiration, it's always good to have a photo of someone, maybe another writer, who inspires you by your side or taped to your laptop to watch over you and give you advice. Whenever you're feeling stuck, ask your "mentor," then listen carefully and see what words come to you.
You never want to be uncomfortable while you're writing, so whether you put on the same ensemble each time you write (mood setter) or just don your favorite pair of pajamas, make sure your outfit is as comfortable as can be. That's not to say that you can't dress up. If you feel more productive writing in a suit, by all means, go for it. Just make sure it's well tailored. :)
For most, NaNoWriMo comes during a cooler time of year. If you're one of those people, make sure you have a blanket nearby and invest in some fingerless gloves so you have no excuse not to write because your hands get cold. If you're like me and live in a tropical country or in Australia where spring has sprung, put on your tank top and kick off your flip-flops.
A timer comes in handy during word sprints and could be a special one, like one you'd find for the kitchen, or just your cell phone. You can also use the NaNo word sprint tool.
Some days your muse will hoist you onto her shoulders and other days she'll drop you like you're hot. On those days you might need a little boost to get your writing mojo back. Many NaNo-ers buy a bag of fortune cookies and consult them when they're feeling stuck. You can do the same with a Magic 8 Ball or tarot/oracle cards. Just use the message as a starting off place.
Have any other writing essentials to add to this list? Let us know so we can get these novels written. I know I need all the help I can get!