My #NaNoWriMo Tools.

Well… October — or “Preptober” — is coming to an end, and the reality is starting to set in: Starting Monday, I’ll be working on writing an entire novel in 30 days.

Of course, I was all, “I’m going to spend my October prepping for my book!” And, well, I haven’t done much of that.

To be fair, it’s good not to do too much planning (don’t want to overthink it or add any pressure to the task at hand), and there’s still the entire weekend ahead to slap together an outline.

When I did #NaNoWriMo last year, it was a last-minute decision, and it ended up just fine. I self-published my novel, “Oil & Ink” (check it out here), and this year, I’m writing the sequel.

Part of my work is done: I have my setting and my main characters. But there’ll be an entirely new plot, of course, and new characters. How will it end? No clue. Heck, I don’t even know how it will begin!

In September, I read “No Plot? No Problem” by Chris Baty, the founder of #NaNoWriMo and he had some really great tangible tips for getting the job done. One thing he discusses in the book is tools to help you get through the month, so I thought I’d share mine with you.

Let’s do this:

Notebook + Pens

No matter how much technology there is, nothing beats a good notebook and pen. Of course, I’ll be typing my novel, but I like to use pen and paper to jot down ideas as they come.

One really great way to get ideas is to go out in the wild and observe people. You’d never guess the kinds of things you see or what you overhear out there, and you can document all of it in your notebook just like Harriet the Spy 🙂

I get all of my notebooks from Yoobi and I really love the felt markers from Detail Doodlers.

Jelly Comb Bluetooth Keyboard

I plan to do a majority of my writing on my laptop… but it’s got a battery issue and really doesn’t last long without being plugged in (making it more like a desktop, but it is what it is). When I traveled in September, I bought myself a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad.

I never thought I’d be THAT person to use a full keyboard with an iPad, but it meant I didn’t have to bother with my laptop. Turns out, the keyboard is pretty awesome. Not only does it have a groove to hold an iPad and a phone, but it connects to two devices, AND it comes in fun colors (I got the purple) and has cute little round keys.

So, I will probably use this setup on days when I don’t want to deal with my laptop power cord. You never know when you’ll want to write from the couch, the patio, or maybe the park or a coffee shop. Here is the exact one I got, but here are some similar options!

Novel Writing Prep Kit

In preparation for #NaNoWriMo, I put some printable tools in my Etsy Shop, including a Complete Novel Writing Prep Kit! The kit includes:

– 1 Time Finder to maximize your schedule for writing
– 1 Brainstorming Kit for characters, scenes, plot + conflict
– 1 Writing playlist brainstorming sheet
– 1 Novel Yes + No list

These are all printable sheets to help plan a novel. The Time Finder is a way to help you organize your schedule, while the Brainstorming sheets are specifically for ideas for characters, scenes, plot and conflict.

The playlist sheet has room for song ideas, and the Yes + No list is where you can list out your favorite and least favorite aspects of books to help you stay on track.


I have heard about writers using playlists to help them in the creative process. I immediately pushed off this idea when I heard it, but then I read it in Baty’s book and there were some VALID points to making one. One thought was that it helps you get into the mindset to write. Another was that if you were really strapped for ideas, you could incorporate songs into your book via lyrics or perhaps the characters mention music.


So, I made a playlist based on music I thought would be played where my main character works. And, while this music isn’t normally what I listen to, I had the BEST time putting it together and I’m excited to listen to it while I write. You can listen to it on Spotify if you’d like.

A Writing Totem

Another thing mentioned in the book that I never thought about is using a wearable item that helps you get into the mindset to write. This could be a baseball hat or a robe, but Baty suggests something wild to remind yourself not to take it too seriously, but it can also serve as a reminder to anyone else in your home that you’re now writing and should not be bothered.

Maybe it’s a helmet or a pair of fingerless gloves… maybe its a boa or an entire costume! Mine is based on my main character: a graphic “Word Slayer” sweatshirt I got from #NaNoWriMo and a flannel shirt. I may add a hat to my outfit as well.

Food + Drink

Baty talks about having the right food and drinks stocked, and as someone who’s always thinking or worried about what I’m going to eat, this is a legit consideration!

I get 99% of my food delivered since we’re still in a pandemic, and it’s way more convenient. I use meal kit delivery (mostly Marley Spoon) and I get a weekly delivery from Imperfect Foods. Between the two, I have plenty of healthy meals and snacks delivered right to my door. I also keep my freezer stocked with Daily Harvest goodies, which are all vegan and easy to whip up.

If you want to try any of these, grab my discounts!

  • Get a free Marley Spoon box + 25% off additional boxes (code here)
  • Get $20 off your first 4 orders with Imperfect Foods (code here)
  • Get $35 off your first Daily Harvest order (code here)

And that’s that! If you’re participating in #NaNoWriMo, I’d love to be your writing buddy — you can find me on the Nano website under the username: Thebitterlemon. Hope to see you there!

To see more writing from me, be sure to subscribe to The Bitter Lemon by clicking “subscribe” on the right side of your screen. Want even more? Subscribe to my newsletter to get roundups, book recs and lifestyle tips.

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