July Camp NaNoWriMo 2018 – NaNo Blog Challenge

Hi friends! It’s that time of year again for another monthly writing challenge. Originally happening only in November, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has become so popular that there are now “camps” held in April and July. Let’s be honest, November isn’t always the greatest month to try and tackle the challenge for some with the start of the holiday season. Camp NaNoWriMo is something I don’t think I’ve ever completed successfully. I frequently sign up only to flag and flail within the first week of the competition.

In fact, calling it a competition is a misnomer. If anything, it’s a competition with yourself. If you want to know the full details of what NaNoWriMo really is, I suggest you check out my previous post What is NaNoWriMo? Today, I’m here to talk about a new challenge I am posing to myself for the month of July. I’m going to kick off the #NaNoWriMoBlogChallenge.

What is a NaNoWriMo Blog Challenge?

In order to help generate more traffic to my blog and successfully fulfill the 50,000 word goal for the month (Note: during Camp NaNoWriMo you can actually make the word count goal smaller are larger) I plan to post a new blog post every single day. Yes, you read that correctly.

It will definitely be a challenge because even though I’ve developed the habit of writing every day, I have not developed the habit of writing something and publishing it every day. No rough drafts here. I promise that each post will consist of edited, readable content – no NaNoWriMo jibberish.

I’m hoping other bloggers will join me in this endeavor (please use #NaNoWriMoBlogChallenge or #NaNoBloCha in social media posts so we can start a movement!) My blog posts will consist of anything from stories about my personal life, poetry, book reviews, notes on previous trips, NaNoWriMo progress, and regular minimalist and writing posts… and possibly more. My goal is to keep the posts-a-postin’!

Camp NaNoWriMo: Not My First Rodeo

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t my first time participating. As mentioned in my April 2017 Camp post (my only post for that month), I started out strong then vanished. Luckily, the challenge starts on a weekend again this year, giving me a day to get ahead before the work week takes hold. Also, being near an American holiday, I’ll have some extra time off of work which I’ll be taking advantage of.

Yes, I also plan to continue writing fiction during this period. Can we say literary suicide? I predict burn-out and mass hysteria in the Bethory household… or at least in the office. Please subscribe to this blog to join me on this crazy journey. While I’m currently hopeful, I may not have any sanity left by the first of August. So please, take a first row seat to the madness.

Further Reading

For other tips, tricks or words of encouragement regarding NaNoWriMo, please check out some of my other posts regarding Having a Plan and Eating Right for NaNoWriMo. If you still don’t feel inspired, I suggest reading the book that started it all by NaNoWriMo founder, Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem! Revised and Expanded Edition: A Low-stress, High-velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days.

Happy Writing!

-RB

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

6 Ways to Find Creative Motivation

In a world full of distractions, it can be difficult to find motivation to write. If you’re like me, you have millions of creative ideas and you spend a great deal of your free time thinking about them but not actually putting the fingers to the keyboard or the pen to the paper. Maybe it’s the entitled millennial in me but sometimes I think that modern day creatives should receive awards for not allowing themselves to be distracted by their smart phones for long enough to record an album or write a book. The late, great writers of old had their own problems but they didn’t have Netflix, YouTube, smartphones, and in some cases, electricity!

Most times in order to get myself to write, I have to be bored. This is why when my friends suggest I get into this new show on Netflix, I frequently deny the invite. “But it’s so good. You’ll love it. The writers do a really good job…” I’m sure they do which is exactly why I don’t want to get sucked into it because it will distract me from my own endeavors!

I’ve written a few posts regarding productivity and finding motivation as a writer but somehow I feel that those posts still don’t cover everything. There is so much to say about the subjects of motivation and distractions. So I sat down and composed a list of my top 6 motivators for you. I hope they help you, fearless creative, to go after your own dreams!

1. Grant Faulker’s 52 Pep Talks for Writers

I love this book. In the author’s introduction he writes, “Stories remind us that we’re alive, and what being alive means.” An invaluable resource if you’re looking for motivation, Faulkner’s Pep Talks include, “Finding Your Muse,” “The Art of Boredom,” “Overcoming Creativity Wounds,” and “Pull Yourself Out of the Comparison Trap.” Seriously, picking out just four titles right now to share with you was a challenge because they are all so inspiring.

As the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Faulkner has the right frame of mind to help encourage us to push forward as adventure seekers and write. I constantly read and re-read this book, picking specific articles to read depending on what I’m struggling with most. In doing so, you feel a bond to the author. Sometimes hearing or seeing what other authors have to say about this solitary craft, makes you feel like it’s not so solitary after all. Though many of us prefer the isolation, it’s nice to know we aren’t alone.

2. Be Held Accountable, Set Up a Patreon Account

It’s immensely difficult to hold yourself accountable to your own deadlines. It’s even easier to become discouraged when you don’t meet them. And again, if you’re anything like me you create impossible deadlines for yourself. I’m a huge culprit of this. However, things become so much easier when you break the work into smaller, more manageable chunks AND get other people to hold you accountable.

Not only has my partner promised me a trip to England when I publish my next novel (because he knows that I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go there), but having followers who are interested in your work will prompt and encourage you to write more.

I set up a Patreon account with this in mind. Even though at the moment of writing this post I only have two people as patrons, those are two more people who I didn’t have before. Two more people who are eager and interested to see my writing which is all I can really ask for. This relates a lot to the last item on this list. For now, let’s continue.


Recommended Reading: The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer. Also, check out her TedTalk here.


3. Struggle More

Sound strange? I’m a firm believer that struggle is helpful. It’s amazing what people can accomplish when they are fighting to survive. Unfortunately (and it makes me sound ungrateful to say this), I had a very normal childhood…overwhelmingly normal. I grew up in a middle-class working family and was spoiled. I never learned what true struggle is and so when I went out into the real world, I expected things to be handed to me. Lack of struggle taught me nothing.

After being out on my own for a while, I had racked up a substantial amount of debt. By now I’ve paid some of it off but not all and I’m using what is left to help me struggle more. How? I’m throwing every penny I can spare at that figure. We’ve cut back on vacations, fancy dinners and all of the other things I was allowing myself to be spoiled with. Even something as simple as cooking in 6 nights a week and only getting delivery once has been an adjustment. To some, this is their normal life but I had some learning to do.

It’s been a wake-up call. Telling myself no grocery shopping until everything in the freezer and pantry is gone has shown me just how much food is in the house! I’ve realized that we’re not starving here and that what I consider “struggle” is actually nothing close to. While struggle can mean different things to different people, consider where you are and where you want to be. Cutting back a little to gain big later on makes the “struggle” worth it. It’s very motivating that I know I won’t eat sushi if I don’t meet my goals for the week…

4. Weekly To-Do Lists

This is a big one. I’m a huge fan of to-do lists but for the longest time I was doing it all wrong. As stated in my previous post regarding productivity and the Right Way to Create Routine,  having too rigid of a schedule can hinder you. I used to make my to-do lists by the day. Now, I make them for the week. This way if I slip up one day or don’t feel well, I’m not automatically behind.

What’s on my to-do list this week? Here’s what it looks like.

-Write Monday and Thursday’s blog posts

-Finalize Mortis Book 1 Chapters 1-6 Final Drafts

-Create two public Patreon Posts

-Create two Patron-only Patreon Posts

It’s important not to overload yourself. Once I finish this post, everything on that list will be 50% complete and it’s only Sunday! But I have no idea how the rest of my week is going to pan out. Life happens. Leave room for it. You might have to work late one evening, or have a sick family member, or have to pick your kid up from his overnight stay in jail for an underage DUI…there’s no telling! You can always add more if you finish everything early. Keep it simple. Don’t hold yourself to doing a certain thing on Tuesday because let’s be honest, Tuesday might be shit.

5. Read In-Progress FanFiction.

This one might sound a little strange but I swear it works! I am not ashamed to admit that I’m a huge fan of FanFiction. And there is nothing more exciting than reading a work in-progress and seeing that “new chapter” notification show up in your email inbox. Recently, I’ve been reading a dark and graphic Harry Potter FanFiction called “Not the Same Girl” by Emmaficready.

The author does a good job of making things worse and worse for the main character in every chapter. So why is it motivating? The author also posts a new chapter about twice a week. Though the chapters are never long, they always progress the story. It’s a great way of seeing that sticking with a story, chapter by chapter, turns it into a novel-length tale. It helps remind me that I don’t have to create Rome in a day. I can work with smaller scenes to construct a larger story. So thank you to Emmaficready and other Fanfiction authors who update regularly!

6. Remember Your “Why”

Which brings me to my last point. As I mentioned earlier in the “Patreon” section above, at the moment of writing this post I have 518 blog subscribers and two patrons on my Patreon account. If you’re writing for the sole purpose of becoming rich and famous, you’re in the wrong business. Writers are in this for the story telling. Think about why you want to create. How are you adding value? Today’s society is saturated with advertisements that constantly tell people where and how they should spend their hard-earned money. What makes your work so special?

The truth is that no matter how bad the world gets, people need creatives. Whether you’re making music, painting, taking photos, writing books, you’re adding value to someone’s life. Artists provide a way for the world to escape its harsh realities. I believe it was Anne Lamott who once said, “A writer paradoxically seeks the truth and tells lies every step of the way. It’s a lie if you make something up. But you make it up in the name of the truth, and then you give your heart to expressing it clearly.”

As writers tell lies to speak truths, we also record history and capture moments with words instead of pictures. We evoke emotions, we create kingdoms and tear them to the ground. In a lot of ways, it’s playing the role of a god. We torture characters then we save them only to kill them in the end. Artists add value by providing a special place for people to get away from their lives… their soul-sucking jobs, their abusive and toxic relationships, their war-torn countries, etc. Writers create safe-havens. We send people on missions and adventures.

We are the silent leaders.

Lead away!

Happy Writing!

-RB

Blog Art created with Canva.

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Organization: Writer’s Block’s Biggest Enemy

A recent incident at my day job inspired this post. You may have heard about the importance of being organized from teachers, parents or bosses in the past. If you’re like me, in went in one ear and out of the other. I’ve always been  a supporter of organization. I suppose it’s in my blood but I never realized just how important it was until I suddenly didn’t have it! Organization is a key component to staying productive and on target with your goals. What caused me to finally realize this?  Here’s what happened.

The Day Job

My day job consists of a lot of paperwork among a few other things. As an Administrative Generalist, I do a lot of what no one else has time for. So my responsibilities cover the span of several different departments. One of my biggest responsibilities is that of the hourly employees’ Probationary Reviews. Basically, it’s a form that every new hire receives on their 30, 60, 90 and 110 day anniversary in order to be evaluated by their boss to ensure whether they are proficient enough in their job to remain employed.

I lay my hands on these forms every day for one department. There are over 200 that are sent out each month and as we are hiring every week, as one group finishes their last review, another group begins.

Keeping these forms on track and up-to-date requires a steady eye. They are returned to me through the mail every day. And every day they must be signed by management, scanned back into the computer system, logged as received and scheduled for their next review. It isn’t difficult but very tedious and time consuming. Keeping a color coded spreadsheet helps.

The Transition

There used to be two of us in the office who handled these forms. I distributed them for one department while the second person did it for another. However, that person recently acquired a new job and due to budget constraints, wasn’t being replaced. This meant that their monthly Probationary Reviews fell to me. It is now safe to say that I spend over 30 hours a week on these reviews alone while I have other responsibilities at work. My days of refusing overtime are gone.

In picking up this new task, it quickly became apparent that the previous individual did not keep up with their filing and organization. Compile that with the fact that none of their forms had been introduced into the computer system and I had my work cut out for me.

Suddenly, my downtime at work was nil. The first day the transition took place I worked a twelve hour shift and skipped the lunch break. So many forms were delinquent or missing in action, it was hard to fathom how things had gotten so bad.

The Solution

Phone calls were made. Emails were sent out. Files were sifted through and alphabetized for easy navigation. A week later and I still don’t have that department’s forms where they all need to be. Though I’ve made substantial progress, I think of all the time I’ve spent organizing when that should have been done from the start.

Being that the first department I had sole coverage of is so organized, I’m better able to help them and not rip my hair out while fixing the other department’s mess.

How to Apply this to Writing

During this process, I’ve been thinking on how I can use it as a lesson to better my productivity at home.

Here is one of the biggest folders I keep in my filing cabinet and it’s filled with all sorts of half-developed ideas and writing prompts. I know exactly where to go when I’m lacking inspiration.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen pictures of my desk. I’d like to think my organization skills are on point and being a minimalist helps with cleanliness. Staying organized not only gives me no excuse to put off writing… [Sorry, I don’t have time to write, I need to organize by thoughts first...] but it also promotes peace of mind.

By being organized, I can quickly pick a folder, grab my laptop and head to Starbucks for an early morning writing session. I don’t have to worry about leaving anything behind because all of my notes are neatly tucked away. This means no more, “Where is that napkin I jotted that random piece of dialogue on that I wanted to use for this scene?”

I’m a big fan of “floating storage,” which means “off of the floor!” Keeping all of my notepads in one place means I always know where a spare bit of paper is. Keeping it off of the floor means I’m less likely to throw other things into the basket. Notice that the folders are also labeled with working titles and numbered.

Whenever I want to switch things up and work on another project, I just grab the respective folder. If an idea for one project pops into my head while I’m working on another, I write the idea down quickly and throw it into that project’s folder. If the idea doesn’t have a big story line yet, it goes into the filing cabinet with other “random ideas.”

Promote Good Habits

What organization really is, is setting yourself up for success. Ever notice how your mornings run a little more smoothly when you’ve laid out your clothes for the day, the night before? Or how stress free your week is when you fill your car up with gas when the tank has dropped to half instead of riding on it until it’s nearly empty? What about paying your rent the day you get the bill as opposed to waiting until the last day they’ll accept payment without a late fee?

I splurged on some clearance isle Post-Its. The different colors make it super easy to form an editing system. Or a blog idea system. Or whatever you want!

Self-published author and self-made millionaire, Amanda Hocking, frequently states, “There is No Magic Hand.” Since the first time I saw her blog post stating that, it also became a mantra of mine. She’s right. There is no magic hand that is going to swoop into your life and makes your dreams come true for you. You must put in the work. So why not make it easier on yourself and set yourself up for success? Stay organized, my friends!

In Summation…

Perhaps I should have titled this blog 3 Reasons Your Lack of Organization is Promoting Your Writer’s Block.

  1. Gives you an excuse not to write.
  2. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind…which promotes anxiety.
  3. Writing is much more difficult when you don’t set yourself up for success… Lay things out, categorize them and put them within arm’s reach, and you’re golden.

I hope this helps your endeavors!

Happy Writing!

-RB

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

The Right Way to Create a Routine

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about the top 3 ways to establish a routine. In my own experiments with trying to create routine, I discovered that I was doing something very wrong. Furthermore, what I was doing caused my attempts to establish a routine to fail, over and over again.

There were so many things I wanted to do and not enough time in a day. I would say to myself, “Monday I’m going to start doing these three tasks before work everyday.” I wouldn’t stop there. I would continue with, “And when I get home from work I’m going to do this at 4pm and this at 5pm, then this other thing at 8pm.”

As per usual, I was setting myself up for failure. It’s something I do a lot. I have unrealistic expectations which can be prevalent in today’s society. Once the light bulb in my head lit up and I realized this, I knew that it was time to start setting myself up for success. After all, if I wanted success, I couldn’t keep failing myself. I believed in myself enough to know I could do anything I set my mind to, the trouble was setting my mind.

What was I doing wrong?

There were two things I did wrong when I tried to create routine in my life.

First, I tried to change too many things at once. I expected myself to wake up on a Monday (of all days) and change everything about the way I normally lived my life. I wanted to write, workout, meditate, change my diet, etc. and start it all right away. I was convinced that was the only way and if I couldn’t make it work then I wasn’t trying hard enough or didn’t want success bad enough. So, when I didn’t fall in line and obey my own strict policies, I told myself that I sucked.

Secondly, I didn’t allow myself any flex time. By planning something to do at 4pm everyday when I work at a job that lets out just 30 minutes before that, I had no wiggle room. Sometimes I have to stay at work late. Or sometimes I need to pick up dinner, or go out to dinner, or it’s date night… You catch my drift? Anytime I worked through my “routine task” time, I either pushed that task back or skipped it all together. Oh and I also told myself that I sucked for not completing it.

I guess that brings about a third point…

Negative self-talk is not your friend.

Beating yourself up for anything is doing more harm than good. Making changes to your daily lifestyle can be challenging especially if you try to do it all at once. Go easy on yourself. It’s not an easy lesson to learn.

How to Create Routine

When forming new habits, breaking old ones or changing your lifestyle in any way, it’s important to take things slow. I took things one week at a time. First I started with reading more (as a form of meditation) and eating healthier. I recently discovered that I was lactose intolerant and being that I ate a lot of dairy products, my system was in for a huge shock. After I gave my body about three weeks to adjust, I added something else.

I had been struggling with writing every day. So I signed up for 750words.com which encourages me to stay on track. Now, I’ve been at that for a week. Next, I plan to add yoga to my routine. So as the weeks go by, I will adjust accordingly instead of trying to do it all at once.

Lastly, I don’t set a time for any task. I allow myself to flex. Sometimes I can draft a blog post in an hour. Other times, I need to draft it one night and come back to it the next. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to publish anew blog post up here every day. However, I don’t wish to burn myself out. Even the smallest of steps in the right direction…are still steps in the right direction.

Looking for Ideas? (Further Reading)

The internet is filled with dozens of articles telling you, “The top 20 things you must do every day to stay healthy,” and “15 things to do daily to be smarter.” But if you’re looking for a summation of all of them and a good laugh, please check out Sara Kloek’s “95 Things I Should Do Every Day According to the Internet.” #34, #56 and #57 made me laugh out loud!

Happy Reading!

-R

Photo Credit: ID 78999514 © Feng Yu | Dreamstime.com

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Current Writing Projects for 2018

Dear readers, I thought I would take a moment to discuss my current writing projects for 2018. It may seem like I’m taking on quite a lot but keep in mind that I do not plan to publish all of these this year. Instead, I plan to release two this year and at least two next year. I would love to hear feedback on any thoughts you may have. Please comment below to reach me.

In Articulo Mortis

Available in August 2018

Yes, I’ve finally set a deadline and release date for my precious Mortis. I first got the idea for this debut novel when I was in college. It has changed and morphed in so many ways that it barely resembles the original concept. This cover art has also already been tweaked so what you’re seeing isn’t the final product.

The story takes place in the 1990’s when a small town mortician is recruited by the Grim Reaper to help collect souls. Complications arise when there are others after those same souls as well as the mortician herself. She must decide whether or not to sacrifice her own soul in order to help the Grim Reaper in his mission – which he does not fully disclose.

The first book in the Mortis series will be available exclusively at Amazon for the first six months. After that, it will be available at Barnes and Noble and on other digital platforms such as Kobo, iBooks, scribd, and the NOOK.

The World Beneath

Available in December

I don’t remember how to idea for this story came about. I’m being rather bold in setting a deadline and release date for myself as the middle and end of this story is very hazy. The beginning, however, is very clear to me. The story is about a teenage boy from a broken family who has just relocated to a new school. During a casual weekend hockey game with other local kids, he falls through the ice of a large lake. As his friends and neighbors scramble above the surface to rescue him, he falls into an underwater world that is war-torn.

As I continue to work on this story, more ideas are coming out of the woodwork, or out of the water, so to speak. I’m not sure who my audience is for this one – whether it’s young adult or mainstream science-fiction/horror. It seems odd to not know this far along in the story. Something is missing but it won’t be come December.

The Crutch

Available in December

The Crutch was originally a short story idea that turned into a novella. It is loosely based off of a dream I had in which a magically- inclined  student has their magic taken away as punishment for relying on it too heavily – for using magic as a crutch. The student must then learn how to defend themselves and rely on the good of other people to not only survive, but also to stop a string of criminal activity on campus. Does it sound lame? Let me know in the comments below. The story line is not fully developed yet.

The Alchemist’s Advocate (Title subject to change)

Coming 20??

The Alchemist’s Advocate started out as the single story of a slave who earned favor with the Lieutenant of her capture’s army. It was more of a “coming of age” story with a slow burn romance developing halfway through. However, I realized that I had several half-developed fantasy ideas that could easily be intertwined with one another for a Game of Thrones- esque story. Though I could never be as fantastic as Mr. Martin, it presented me with the opportunity to take several smaller ideas and turn them into something far more grand. The story has since been merged with previous WIPs currently titled, “Eleven,” “The Book of Manal,” “The Faust Reformatory,” “The War project,” and, “The Great Conjunction.” I’ve even thought of turning it from fantasy to science-fiction. Thoughts?

ELM12

Available 2019

ELM12 was an idea that came from one of my electrical theory classes. I had a teacher who refused to believe in ghosts but was a full-time believer in aliens. He said that when people like air force pilots and police officers commented on seeing things while on duty, he had to believe them. So I was compelled to write about a U.S. Navy Pilot who had seen something.

This story is largely developed and the first third of it has already been written as a rough draft. I am not satisfied with the cover art on this one though so that will be changing.

If you’d like to hear more about these projects and stay up to date on my progress, please become a patron on My Patreon Page. Patrons will receive exclusive access to excerpts not seen anywhere else as well as progress updates.

Happy Writing.

-RB

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.