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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.

9 Ways to Increase Productivity as a Writer

If you know me at all, I’m always looking for ways to be more productive. When I have down time at work, I’m running through my list of things to do in my head and determining the most efficient way to get them done. And I love lists! Here are some of the things I do to stay on target and up to par. Do I stick to them like a religion? No. I’m always trying new things but I do hope to one day become a creature of habit. A lean, mean to-do list knocking out machine! So without much further ado, here are my top 9 ways (sorry I don’t have a top 10…deal with it) to increase productivity and stay productive!

1. Have a Plan

In general, having a mode of attack is a good idea. Have a plan. Be organized and take notes. It is so important to know what you’re doing before you start doing it. I get it. Sometimes it’s nice to just get in the car and drive wherever the road takes you but nine times out of ten, you’ve got a destination in mind or a route planned.

A lot of us are pantsers and if you’re like me you’re kind of in between a pantser and a plotter. But when I sit down to write I always have an idea in mind as to what I’m going to write about. This makes my writing so much easier and less painful. On days when I have no plan and I just sit in front of the computer staring at an empty space (or an empty MS Word document) it’s very heartbreaking.

It’s discouraging. It’s depressing. I think that’s part of what gets a lot of writers down. I’ve read that the key to being prolific and producing more in a smaller amount of time, you’re going to need to have some idea- some game plan- laid out. I’m still working on the prolific part myself, don’t worry! We’ll get there one day.

You don’t have to know all the details but it definitely helps.

2. Take Breaks

This may sound counterproductive but it’s true. Take breaks. Sitting for 8 hours in front of a computer without any breaks is like suicide. It can put a strain on your eyes (think of the amount of time the average human being spends looking at a screen every day in 2017), and it’s not ergonomically smart. Use the bathroom, get a snack, get fresh air, stretch… do anything just don’t start playing a video game because then a 10-minute break will turn into the rest of the day and you won’t get any work done.

3. Write by Timer

Simple. Set a timer. This really helps for me. There are many different ways in which you can implement this one.

There’s a program called Write or Die where you set a timer and a punishment. Yes, you read that correctly. The punishment maybe an annoying sound or your words may get deleted if you stop writing. It’s actually pretty cool. I highly recommend Write or Die (know known as Write or Die 2). It’s free and you can also use “reward” mode or “stimulus” mode now, instead of setting punishments. There is a desktop version available for $20. You can find it here.

There are also sites like Write Monkey or Written? Kitten!

Written? Kitten! will show you a picture of a kitten when you reach your word goal and Write Monkey takes away all distractions so all you have is a screen to write on.

Lastly, there’s the Pomodoro method. This is one of my personal favorites. It’s called “Pomodoro” because the man who came up with this method had a kitchen timer that was in the shape of a tomato and Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian. The man would set the timer for 20 minutes and do whatever he had to do. Then you can set the timer for ten minutes and take a break. Once the buzzer goes off again you know it’s time to get back to work for another 15 or 20 minutes. This is especially useful is you’re participating in the NaNo Word Sprints during November, April or July. It’s a great way to boost your word count during the write-a-thons.

4. Get Some Sleep

It’s very important if you want to be in your best mental and creative state, to get a good night’s sleep. Don’t deprive yourself of your health just to get your book done. Yes, there will be sacrifices. You may have to give up a social life but don’t sacrifice your health.

5. Exercise

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. If I’m exercising, I can’t be writing. How is that productive? But it’s true. Exercise is a form of meditation. It can help clear your mind and get all of that excess and mental clutter out of the way. Have you ever worked out and found that an issue you were thinking about all day long suddenly became clear- a problem suddenly had a solution and everything seemed easy? That’s what exercise and meditation does and I highly recommend it.

6. Get Rid of Distractions

I wrote a whole post on this and I’ll provide a link to it here. Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating a workspace that has a ton of distractions. Set yourself up for success by limiting the things that can take up your time when you’re supposed to be writing. Point in fact, this is why I became a minimalist. I was spending valuable writing time cleaning and organizing. When I simply owned less stuff, I had more time and less distractions. Win.

Check out my blog post on Staying Focused and Eliminating Distractions.

7. Tell Other People

Tell other people. Now if you’re anything like me, you hate talking about your writing. I don’t like talking about whether I think it’s good or not. I don’t know why. I love my writing. I love my stories and characters but I hate talking about it. My man and I have had heated discussions and yes, even fights over my writing. However, he holds me highly accountable and promises me things like trips to London…

Also, sharing on social media that I’m writing a novel or editing a novel or writing a short story creates accountability. Depending on how many friends or followers you have, that many people are going to hold you accountable.

8. Get Up Early

I know, I know. I just told you to exercise and now I’m telling you to wake up earlier…after I told you to get sleep which means going to bed sooner. Did I mention that writing requires sacrifice? I’m not a morning person either. But I will say that lately I have found myself waking up earlier and earlier, inspired to get to work and be productive.

They say that there is a huge difference in the mental states of a rich person and a poor person. Wealthy and successful people wake up 3 hours before work starts. Oh my goodness! Right now I’m working from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. so I’m already having trouble rolling out of bed early. Waking up at 3 in the morning just seems ludicrous.

I’m so used to waking up early during the week that my weekends tend to start no later than 6 a.m. and that makes for at least two productive days if I slipped up during the week.

9. Don’t Multitask!

I have so many writing ideas. I don’t mean to brag. Some writers struggle with where to find ideas but I have so many that I want to write about- so many that I’m in love with. The problem? I tried to divide my energy and focus across all of the projects and that slows me down. (Sometimes I am still guilty of this!)

You want to set one specific goal and stick to it. Put all of your energy and focus on that goal because when your energy is divided and scattered you’re not on top of your game. So if you’re trying to work on five books, or three books and a short story and a novella… STOP. At times, it’s preferable when you get tired of one project, to have the option of spending some time with another one. This I can stand behind but please save yourself the struggle and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Having 5+ projects going on at one time can be a huge mistake. It doesn’t work for me at all because I lose sight of focus, storyline, theme, and character motivation. Everything becomes jumbled and it makes the editing process more grueling.

For further reading, I highly recommend David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. There are hundreds of books out there on productivity. I’ve read quite a few but nothing got to me quite like David’s. If you read anything on productivity, please give this one a try!

I hope this helped at least one person and if you have any questions, comments or suggestions,  please leave them in the comment box below. Happy writing.

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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.