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A writing totem is an item (or several items) that helps inspire, get one in a writer-like state of mind, and helps battle writer's block. A writing totem can be anything; it could be an item of clothing (like Baty's viking helmet), a stuffed animal, a picture, a chotchke item, fingerless gloves, anything! Totems are most often around a Wrimo's computer (or on the Wrimo) and stick by the Wrimo in all of his or her creative endeavors.
Totems also serve as a signal to others that the WriMo is in "the shadowy Realm of the Novel."