All posts by Regina Bethory

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 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, sushi restaurants, and small town cafes.

The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received

The most important piece of writing advice I ever received is to read. Sounds crazy right? Believe it or not, when I was younger, I hated reading. I had enjoyed it for a time when i was allowed to read what I wanted. However, school ruined my love for reading.

How School Ruined My Love of Reading

Forcing children to read certain books is a horrible way to get anyone to appreciate literature. New books for young adults come out every year but school systems usually stick to the same outdated classics. Yes. I understand that they are classics for a reason. However, an adolescent or teenager doesn’t have the same appreciation for classic literature as they would something written for the Modern Age. Leave the classics for adults who have more life experience.

As a teenage girl, I didn’t give a rat’s roasted rectum about The Red Badge of Courage. I really wasn’t even that into The Outsiders. And I most certainly did not have any interest in Wuthering Heights. In fact, I didn’t rediscover my love of reading until I started the Harry Potter series in the eleventh grade. At that time several of the books had already been released and a movie or two had been made. It was something I could relate to. It was far more personable and pulled more at my own emotional strings then Les Miserables, something that I appreciate more as an adult.

The Best Writing Advice: Want To Be a Better Writer? Read!

As someone who is highly independent, free-spirited, and who loves freedom and autonomy, finding books that work for me and beginning to write my own stories is what allowed me to learn what I wanted to, at my own pace.

The best writing advice I ever received was to read. I saw a quote that said, “Reading is like breathing in. Writing is breathing out.” So when I find myself struggling to write, I make myself read. I pick up a book, any book, and I begin a new story. I’m inhaling others’ thoughts and experiences, digesting them in my mind, and then letting those ideas flow from my fingertips on to a new page into a new form.

For those of you who are aspiring writers, don’t just read what others force you to read. Find what you like and devour it. Breathe in so that you can breathe out.

Happy writing!

-RB

Write Out of Order

In the spirit of the Camp NaNoWriMo that’s going on right now, I’d like to piggy-back onto my previous post with some short, sweet advice. If you’re stuck and you don’t know where to go next in your story, write out of order! Or maybe you do know what comes next but you just aren’t feeling that scene today, or this week… Write out of order!

Start in the middle of a scene. Write the ending first. Focus on a plot point that’s further along. Skip around. You can always come back to where you were. Maybe start a fresh page or a fresh document! One of the beautiful things about art is that there really aren’t any rules. Sure, there are guidelines. And obviously, you want a final draft to be polished and edited- you want to put your best foot forward but there it nothing that says you have to write a story in the order it should be read.

And don’t be afraid to mess up! After all, that’s what rough drafts are for. Throw it all out there onto the page so you can sift and sort the treasure from the trash in the future drafts. In a rough draft, you can’t make mistakes. They simply don’t exist at that time.

Now, go write something!

-RB

On Writer’s Block

I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the concept of writer’s block. I know there are times where we don’t know what to write next. I’ve always got ideas, but sometimes I’m uninspired. However, that’s the thing with writing- you’re not going to be inspired or motivated. In fact, most days you won’t be. There will be times where you get stuck and you’re not sure what to do next. You’re not blocked.

There’s no such thing as writer’s block.

That is a concept that amateur writers think exists because they think we all sit down, inspired to make magic happen every day. We don’t. I used to be one of those amateur writers. In fact, there are still days where I don’t write but for the most part I’ve developed a habit. That’s the important thing- develop the habit of writing every day. You don’t have to work on the same project every day. And that’s really what I’m here to talk to you about…

Get Yourself “Unstuck”

It’s really very simple. As mentioned in a previous post, Turn on the Faucet, words tend to flow once you sit your butt in a chair and start making things happen. Start typing about your day. Describe your surrounding in excruciating detail. If you start writing “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over again, eventually your brain will find something else to write. Maybe you’ll start writing about the film, The Shining, or the book by Stephen King, or maybe you’ll start writing about how you feel overwhelmed at work and you don’t get enough free time. This can spiral into another idea. Need a place to do this? Check out my previous post on 750words.com.

The bottom line is, you could write anything. It may not be applicable to your current work in progress but it doesn’t matter because you’re still writing. You’re still honing your craft- a craft that none of us master, according to Ernest Hemingway.

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

Just because you didn’t work on your current WIP, doesn’t mean you can’t make progress in some way. Work on a blog, work on a short story, work on a different novel idea, brainstorm a new project, and when you’re not doing all of those things, read!

You should always be making progress towards your future self.

There’s a lot of inspirational quotes online- some of which say something like, “will the you five years from now look back and regret not taking those forward steps to get closer to your dream?”

Stop trying to skip the struggle. If writing were easy, everyone would do it. Instead, people romanticize the idea of being a writer. I’m still not sure why. There is something about it that people find alluring when really most of us have had times when we skipped showering, brushing our teeth and eating in order to down more coffee and churn out that next chapter. When you’re a writer, you’re essentially playing God. You are creating characters, moments, places, and events from nothing. It’s exhaustive work.

Understandably, sometimes you don’t feel like playing God but in order to hone the craft you need to work at it every day. It will be a struggle.

Write every day as though it were breathing.

I hope things are going well for those of you who are participating in Camp NaNo this month. We’re about to head into the doldrums of week two and the second week tends to be the toughest. If you find yourself running out of steam, it’s okay. It happens. If you feel stuck, don’t be afraid to skip around in your story or work on something else. You can always come back. Your work isn’t going anywhere without you.

Happy writing!

-RB

Working from Home? Get Dressed!

Not every writer finds it stimulating to work from a cafe or airport terminal. Granted, sometimes we are forced to work in those areas. However, for a lot of us, our days spent being creative are at home. And though this post is geared towards writers, there is a growing number of people working from home in the modern age. This is great! Autonomy sparks creativity and prompts us to find what works for us and what doesn’t, but we can develop some unhealthy habits that don’t promote productivity- namely, not getting dressed.

Lessons Learned

About ten years ago, one of my brothers lost his job. He ended up having to sell his house, his boat, and completely uproot from his life in another state to move back in with mom and dad at the age of 37. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but luckily he had a place to return home to.

Everyday he was on the computer applying for jobs or working on a resume. Granted, he was also filling some of his time with video games, but he was working towards goals everyday. Our oldest brother called often to check in on him and one day he called me. At first I thought that something was wrong. After all, I am little sis three times over. It’s rare that any of my brothers call me for advice or help.

My oldest brother said to me, “I just need to make sure he is doing okay. Being unemployed can really destroy your sense of self and moving back in with mom and dad can’t be easy. He was always independent. I need to know that he’s getting dressed everyday and shaving his face. That can make a world of difference in his mentality.”

Brotherly Wisdom

I didn’t know it at the time, but my oldest brother had a very good point. He, too, had gone several months unemployed but of his own volition. He had a plan, our other sibling did not.

After all of these years, I haven’t forgotten that conversation. Often times when I take a day to work from home, whether for my actual day job or for my writing, I think about what he said to me. I don’t worry about shaving my face, but I do get dressed. I don’t do my hair or put on a full face of makeup. Yet I do put actual jeans on as opposed to staying in my sweatpants. I do brush my teeth, wash my face and put on deodorant. It’s the little things that we do everyday- the little things that we take for granted- that help us feel human and civilized.

Some of you may be thinking, “But the whole point on taking a day to work from home is so I wouldn’t have to put pants on!” From personal experience I can tell you that while that’s nice, it loses its charm. The longer I lounge around in sweats, the longer I’m in “relax” mode instead of “get writing done” mode.

Now, maybe you’re writing a story about a guy stuck in the jungle for a month and you really want to experience not showering, etc. That’s on you! I beg of you to shower before you come into contact with other living souls. However, when writing from home everyday, do yourself a favor. Do those little things you would do before heading into the office. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. And get dressed! After all, writing is a job. Treat it like one.

Happy writing!

-RB

Sometimes I Fail at NaNoWriMo (And That’s OKAY)

April Camp NaNoWriMo 2019!? Is it that time of year again already? I suppose since NaNoWriMo technically happens three times a year now it comes upon us a lot faster than it used to and we’re not always ready. I don’t know how many times I’ve participated in the April and July camps, but I can say that I have participated in the November writing challenge for over 10 years. Does it get any easier? Not really. But that’s okay. That’s why it’s a challenge, right?

If you consistently participate in NaNoWriMo, there may be times where you don’t reach your goal for the month. And there may be different reasons for not reaching said goal. Work, family and health may be some of the reasons you don’t reach that goal. Don’t panic. It happens to all of us. There will be years where you make it and there will be years when you don’t. Don’t beat yourself up.

Failure is a key to success.

Sounds backwards doesn’t it? You can’t win all the time. And if you did win all the time and you knew you were going to win, it would defeat the purpose of the challenges that life presents. After all where is the fun in that?

NaNoWriMo is a challenge in that it’s a competition with yourself. It’s not a competition against other writers. You’re not competing against them, you’re competing alongside them.

Setting SMART Goals

The great thing about the April and July camps is that they allow you to set a different goal instead of sticking to the regular 50,000 words. Don’t be afraid to push yourself but if you feel like, “I just want to get this 20,000 word novella out this month,” or “I want to finish the last 10,000 words of the novel I started in November,” that’s fine too. Set a goal that challenges you but is realistic. I’ve seen people knock out over 150k words during these challenges. Personally, I’m not there yet.

I am guilty of setting goals for myself that are way too big for me to achieve. When I set them, I think, “I know I can do this. I know I’m fully capable.” However, some days I come from from work after staring at a computer screen all day and I don’t feel like staring at a computer screen anymore. Life happens. I’m not saying you should purposefully pad your schedule but the most successful goals are SMART goals. And by SMART I mean Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

I am severely guilty of setting goals for myself that are unattainable because they don’t take into account my daily mood and life schedule.

The real objective of the month is to get you writing daily. Whether that’s one word a day, two pages a day, or 2000 words a day, it’s progress on a daily basis. NaNoWriMo is about forming the habit of sitting down and putting words on paper every day, no matter what. So if you don’t reach that traditional end goal of 50,000 words in a month, don’t beat yourself up for it. Beating yourself up will only slow you down and hinder you even more. Trust me, I’ve been there. Sometimes I still go there.

If it’s your first time doing NaNoWriMo, you don’t know what to expect, you aim for those 50,000 words, and you find that you’re way behind halfway through the month- it’s okay. You’re not failing. The only way to fail at writing is to not write.

As we embark on this journey of the April writing challenge, I say to you, just keep pushing forward. I look forward to seeing you all out there in NaNoLand. I will be joining you in this camp. If you would like to see some motivational posts or memes, please follow me on Instagram here. I look forward to seeing everyone’s progress. Good luck in the month ahead!

Happy Writing.

-RB

P.S. Don’t forget bug spray, rope, a knife, and a good sleeping bag.

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