(Before we begin, a correction: you can use this checklist for any new novel project you’re starting, not just those that take place during NaNo. But post titles can only be so long before they start looking ridiculous.)
Good morning, soldier. I see you’re getting kitted out for another mission into First Draft Land. It’s a dangerous country out there, full of plot holes and fact mines. There are places where your creativity is going to bottom out on a dirt road far from anywhere you want to be. So, to increase you chances of
survival completing your mission, you should make sure you have the following things in your supply cache:
Stimulant Delivery System: We recommend caffeine, both for its ease of access and myriad of delivery mechanisms, which includes coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, gum, soap, and those little white pills truckers take. Those of you who choose nicotine instead should be warned that, although the author quit smoking years ago, on a bad day she will still drag you out back and beat you to death with a tire iron just to steal that cigarette from your cold, dead hands.
Notebooks: For character details, setting maps, plot points, grocery lists, and the occasional tear-soaked missive about how much you hate writing.
Recording Apparatus: The preferred method these days is the computer word-processor, but acceptable alternatives include typewriters (electric and mechanical), another notebook, random sheets of paper, and the walls of your cell. However, keep in mind that verification will be difficult for some of these methods.
Distraction Filter: Ranging from the ability to screen phone calls and email alerts to a very supportive spouse who will field any and all household crises. If your Distraction Filter takes the form of another human being, be warned that they may require paying or some other form of compensation.
Music: Include high-energy for those stimulant-induced burst of creativity, instrumental for days in the zone, and whiny emo bullshit for the low points. Running mascara optional but highly encouraged.
Guts: Because sooner or later all the shit listed above will stop working. You’ll be tired. You’ll run out of inspiration. You’ll have to take phone calls from that guy you hate. And you’ll think, It’d be a lot easier just to give up right now. And the kicker is that it will be.
There’s only on thing that will keep you going then: a certain deep-down contrariness, a willingness to grind it out. So do a check and make sure you have it on hand. Because, out there, in the wilds where the roads disappear…you’re going to need it.