Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Memes for Writing Encouragement

Readers, today’s post will be a gallery post. With the end of NaNo’s July Camp in sight, I recognize the need to encourage everyone to stay on track and push towards their goals. This being said, I own none of these pictures. They have been collected through the years by Google searches and various websites. Their authors are at the bottom of each meme or photo. I’ve compiled them here in the hopes that they will help motivate you in your writing endeavors or perhaps make you laugh. Enjoy!

-RB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now get back to writing!

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.

NaNoWriMo: How to Increase Word Count

The end of July’s NaNoWriMo Camp for 2018 is fast approaching. And with that in mind many writers are looking for ways to increase word count. Myself included. I don’t know what the weather is like where all of you are living but for me I am headed into a weekend of heavy downpours and cloudy skies. In other words, perfect writing weather.

I figured for today a good blog post would focus on ways that we could all increase word count. Next week is the final inning… The home stretch. Personally, I’m about 13,000 words away from my monthly goal of 50,000 words. However, I have spent most of my writing this month on my blog and my morning pages as opposed to working on my WIP. With that in mind, I’m hoping to have an overly productive weekend of words, words, and more words. But we all know how planning for a productive weekend goes. It often results in getting nothing done. With that being said let’s help one another cross the finish line using some of these prompts and ideas.

Tips, Tools and Tricks to Increase Word Count
The Harry Potter Word Crawls

I should saved the best for last but seriously, this one is just too good. If you’re a Harry Potter fan and you haven’t heard of these, you’re missing out. A forum on Reddit has a complete list of links to all of the word count crawls. There has never been a more magical way to increase word count.

Write from All 5 Senses

For real. Go back into every scene and use more description. What are the characters smelling? Is it pleasant? Is it malodorous? What are they seeing? Use adjectives like they are going out of style. You will come back to edit and clean it up later. For now, I expect you to be describing mole hairs. Describe every sound…even the quietest places have sound. For example, my home is quiet right now but I can hear the AC running, my fingers on the keyboard and water trickling from the turtle tank filter. Leave no stone unturned!

Kill a Character – Or Several!

I’m talking Game of Thrones style! Kill three main characters off at once. Take no prisoners. Sacrifice your lambs. BURN THEM ALL! Or you could settle for torturing one of them, brainwashing him, then castrating him. Your choice.

Introduce a Character – Or Several!

I guess this could also be Game of Thrones style as that series has so freakin’ many!

Word Sprints

Word sprints, as painful as they can be, really do help. Why? Because they don’t allow you any time to think about what you’re doing. Even as someone who is a “planner,” when I’m forced to try to write as much as I can within a certain time frame, I start coming up with all sorts of crazy goodness. And by the time the buzzer goes off, I usually want to keep going. Embrace that and run with it. That scene might not make it into the final draft but it counts for this month.

You don’t have to have an account on Twitter or Facebook to participate in them either. Host your own within your cabin! That’s what my kick ass cabin does! I almost feel like we should have a team name…

Write from a Different Medium

Sometimes I type. Other times I write long-hand and sometimes I use dictation software. Each method has its own pros and cons. (Can we say new blog post topic?) All levity aside, don’t be afraid to switch things up. If I get tired of staring at the computer screen and feel stuck or don’t know what to write next or how to write what’s next, I get up and move. That’s when I go lay on the couch or the bed with a notebook and start writing by hand.

Perhaps I know what I want to write and I’ve got the whole scene worked out in my head but it’s so long and my fingers are exhausted. Then I sit at my desk and turn on the microphone. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking but I’m sure there are many other dictation programs out there, this is what works best for me. Sometimes I catch myself rambling but it’s a great way to get the words out quickly!

I hope these tips help you reach your goals for camp this year. And please check out those Harry Potter Word Crawls! They are entertaining.

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.

Suffering from Writer’s Block? Try 750words.com

Today I wanted to share with all of you a little tool I stumbled upon called 750words.com. I don’t remember how I cam across it but it has completely changed my writing habits, more so than NaNoWriMo. As most of you know, NaNoWriMo has the intention of helping you create a writing habit – to write every day. While I have participated for many years, I could never develop that habit. Maybe I was trying to do too much at one time? Maybe 30 days just wasn’t long enough for me? Who knows?

The snapshot above was taken a few days ago. I normally find that I can write 750 words in 11 minutes. However, there have been days I’ve been exhausted and in order to not break the streak, I used Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate my words. I’m not ashamed. The words still got written! But that is why it says that my record time is 5 minutes because I talk twice as fast as I type.

I tried everything.

I was the queen of procrastination – I read blogs about forming a writing habit. Searching online, I sought out apps for productivity. I read books on writing. None of it ever caught on. I really thought that I was a lost cause and despite the fact that I wanted to spend my lifetime writing, that I was doomed for failure because I was lazy and just couldn’t motivate myself to get my butt in high gear! …Until I was introduced to 750 words.com.

When I first signed up, I had actually forgotten that I signed up. It wasn’t until months later when I was cleaning out my inbox (a minimalist cleaning ritual) that rediscovered the site. I’m so glad I did.

Due to badges like the ones above, there is a sort of reward system for keeping your streak going. I think it goes up to 1000 or 2000 day streaks for the badges – in other words, pretty freakin’ long.

Monthly Challenge

You can even sign up for their monthly challenge to write 750words a day for an entire month. If you succeed in writing every day that month, you are put on the “Wall of Awesomeness.” If you miss one day, you are placed on the “Wall of Shame.” And every one will know! How humiliating. It’s funny how little badges and rewards like these can keep us going!

 

As you can see from the picture above, there are all sorts of statistics that show up after you’ve written. This post won’t cover all of them but it’s very interesting to see and compare things like what you were writing about vs time it took to write it. Don’t get me wrong, the first time I saw this demographic I thought, “This isn’t accurate!” But the more I wrote, the more I noticed that it is actually pretty insightful and on point.

It appears that this particular day I was feeling affectionate, upset and self-important and concerned mostly about success, work and death. Not sure what that says about me.

What else can it do?

Your writing is completely private. No one else can see it but you can go back and view old entries if you’d like. Also, if you donate you earn points which are represented by coffee cup icons. Cups allow you to post testimonials and encourage other writers. Another feature is the metadata. In every post you can track things like where you were writing that day, what your energy level was, stress level, how much alcohol or caffeine was in your system, etc. Do it enough and the website will help you track the differences in your writing when you have 3 red bulls instead of 2 whiskeys.

Overall, it’s a pretty unique site. You have the option of becoming a member for $5/month and trust me when I say that it’s completely worth it. Thanks to 750words.com, I cannot miss a day of writing. And the writing can be about anything! You don’t have to spend it working on your novel, you can rant and rave about work, traffic, your children OR you can dream of lying on a beach or hiking in the mountains. You could write a short fiction piece or a few poems. The choice is yours!

So if you’re like me and you struggle with writing every day, I challenge you to 750words.com! Need some perspective? This blog post that you just finished reading it 750 words. If I can do it, anyone can!

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.

Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Hello readers! In keeping with this month’s blog challenge of writing a new post everyday for the month of July, I am finding it difficult to stay ahead but I will keep pushing through. Now that we have sailed into the doldrums of week two, that primal energy of week one has faded, leaving some of us to splash and flail to keep from drowning. I am one of those and it’s only the beginning.In order to not bore you with a long intro, let’s get straight to the point. Here are the top ten things I wish I knew before I started writing.

1) Don’t let others tell you what your book should be about.

You will come across people who want to dictate what you write. Sometimes these people are other writers, sometimes they are not. The ones who are not will never be able to comprehend why you just don’t listen to them and their great ideas for a fiction masterpiece. Yet instead of trying to write anything themselves, they feel the need to try and pull your puppet strings. Don’t give in.

Write the story that’s in your gut. It’s okay to listen to feedback from others but that doesn’t mean you have to follow every single things others say. Stay true to your vision.

2) The mind is a dark place. You don’t need to stand in your own shadow.

Self-sabotage is real and we all have done it at least once in our lives. Many of us do it on a daily basis. Stop talking down to yourself. There will be enough other people doing that for you. Some of them will be “friends,” others will be family.

3) The inner editor is a quiet drunk.

I don’t drink as much as I used to but I’ve noticed a single shot of anything is enough to quiet that pesky inner editor. It’s the fastest and most efficient way to shut it up.

4) You get out what you put in.

If it were easy, every one would do it. Don’t expect it to be a road of rainbows or double rainbows. Writing is challenging. No matter how skilled you are, it’s always a challenge. Put the work in. You have to just like a workout routine. Put the work in for a great body, get a great body and a better quality of life. Put the work into your writing, become a better writer and produce more material. It’s a simple equation.

5) “What if?” is not an evil question.

I had an English teacher in the seventh grade who refused to answer a question if it started with the words “what if.” For a long time after that I grew up thinking that “what if” questions were some kind of bad. “What if” is the creator’s greatest question. Always ask, “what if?”

6) “There is no magic hand.” or “I’ll write that someday.”

No one else will do this for you. Even if you hire a ghostwriter, it won’t be your voice. It won’t be you. Only you can write your story. This “no magic hand” quote I often saw written by self-made millionaire, Amanda Hocking. She often says that she realized this shortly before she kicked her butt into high gear.

Also, I’ve been a firm supporter of the whole, “I’ll write that someday” or “I’ll finish the book one day.” Guess what? “One day” and “Someday” are not days of the week. Saying that means it will never get done. Set a date. Get ‘er done!

7) Everything you need is already inside of you.

Yes, I love traveling and exploring and being inspired. Who doesn’t want to be inspired? But what you need to write your story is really already inside of you. You don’t NEED anything else. You already have it. It’s called sorcery.

8) Writing is not a sprint or a race. It’s a marathon. Community counts.

In high school, I ran cross country and distance track. Like writing, running can be very solitary. After all, every run is usually about competing against your previous run. Being alone, training in the middle of the woods, I never felt alone. I had a team with me, scattered along the trail.

Writers have communities. Find yours. Even though you’re not competing with them, you need their support and encouragement. It’s a long journey. Let your team help you along the way. Let them help you across the finish line. Propel each other.

9) Education is priceless. Read all. Study all.

Okay. I did just say in a previous point that everything you need is inside of you, which is true. But I wished I would have paid more attention to the opportunities given to me through my education. Instead, I was always in a hurry to grow up and get out of school. Slow down. Stop and smell the roses. Literally. They are lovely. Absorb everything. Take it in.

10) Only other creators understand the creative process no amount of explaining will do.

I am cursed. Every day I walk into a day job where no one reads or writes. No one creates. No one understands. I didn’t think it would be possible to find this many book-haters in one place. But it exists. I work in a place of rigidity. Or rules, regulations and procedures. It’s a prison for me and I’m surrounded by enemies. I’m surrounded by people who mock the artsy or ignore us because “we’re weird.” Don’t waste your breath on these people.

“Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise.” -Frank Ocean.

Happy creating!

Blog Art from Dreamstime.

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 Pre-Writing Ritual: The Work Before Work

Hello readers! Today is the first day of my self-imposed NaNoWriMo blog challenge for the July camp of 2018. If you follow my blog for topics other than writing, don’t worry. I will be posting about minimalism and travel throughout the month. However, for today’s first post I want to focus on the pre-writing ritual. Personally. I don’t have a pre-writing ritual that I do every day. I do have a pre-NaNoWriMo ritual.

For those of you competing in NaNoWriMo this time around, you may have already started, or you may be procrastinating, or you might be taking part in your pre-writing ritual as you read this. Whatever the case may be, I would love for you to share what your ritual is in the comments below.

What is a Pre-Writing Ritual?

As human beings we can be very superstitious. By nature, we are ritualistic. Perhaps we wear the same socks or racing flats for every cross-country race? Maybe there’s lucky underwear involved or a lucky hat we wear when we sit down to write our academic essays? I for one have never had a pre-writing ritual. However, with NaNoWriMo it’s a different story. Being that NaNoWriMo is a whole month and I try to focus most of my spare energy towards it, I don’t like to spend a lot of time paying bills, cleaning and cooking. You know those daily chores that tend to add up?

I have a pre-NaNoWriMo ritual. Whether you started your NaNoWriMo challenge today, are waiting until tonight or next weekend, it’s still not too late to complete your ritual.

My ritual usually lasts the whole day. Luckily this month’s challenge started on a Sunday. I was on the NaNoWriMo forums yesterday and saw some other writers talking about their pre-writing rituals and what they did to get ready for the month ahead.

Suggestions from Others

Some of the ideas I got from other writers included logging out of Netflix and Hulu, Facebook, and other social media accounts. Some of you may think what’s the big deal? If you wanna get on, just log back in… So many of those programs and social media platforms keep us logged in so we forget our password. Manually logging back to succumb to hours of procrastination and wasted time becomes a chore when you’ve forgotten your password. Fail too many times and your account becomes locked.  That turns into logging into your email before the “reset” link expires… it’s not worth that much trouble to not write. And trust me, writers spend a lot of time avoiding writing. (Non-writers don’t understand that).

Other writers that have large families participate in a 30 day meal preps. I feel like this one is a little bit easier for the winter months because it’s easier to make casseroles, chili, stews and thicker, heavier meals in bulk and then freeze them for the month. Summertime is a little bit different. Usually we don’t eat as heavy. We rely more on fresh fruits and raw vegetables – things to keep us hydrated and cool which may pose to be a bit of a challenge for a meal prep. If you’re looking for ideas I’ve put a few links below to some 30 day meal preps.


30-Day Meal Prep Links:

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/22226/mealtimes/dinner/best-30-day-meal-plan/slideshow/the-best-30-day-meal-plan/

https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/meal-ideas/30-day-shape-your-plate-challenge-easy-healthy-meal-planning

https://girlinhealing.com/how-to-plan-30-days-of-meals-in-1-day/


My Pre-Writing Ritual

Those are just a few suggestions that I received from the forums. Though they don’t really apply to me, you have to know what works best for you. We’re all a little different. Some of us are better at saying no to distractions than others. As a minimalist, I have removed a lot of distractions from my life. But there are still certain things I need to take care of for the month. While I know that there will be times laundry will pile up, I try to keep it at a minimum as best as I can.

Yesterday was Saturday and my day was filled with cleaning the apartment. We have a small two bedroom apartment and as mentioned before no children or pets so I’d like to think it stays  orderly. Below is a list of things and tasks that I completed that you may want to take a look at to help you determine what needs to be done in your household before you commit a month of your life to writing 50,000 words or more.

1. Wash, dry, put away as much laundry as possible.

As always, minimalism helps because we don’t have that many clothes. Take the time to put fresh sheets on the bed and clean all of your dirty laundry.

2. The dishes…

I’m terrible about letting dishes pile up in the sink or not emptying the dishwasher once it’s done cycling through. And I get fussed at for it… It’s not in my nature. The kitchen really isn’t my area, I usually let him do the work. However, I contribute to the mess and I know that I can’t really concentrate when I know that there’s clutter somewhere. It drives me nuts. Run the dishwasher through once or twice, put all of the clean dishes, away scrub the countertops and the floor, and empty the trash.

3. Buy groceries and clean your fridge.

I’m not talking about junk food. Of course, buying healthy food can be frustrating because it goes bad before you can eat it all. I’m used to going to the grocery store 2 to 3 times a week to get fresh produce. Perhaps for this month switch it up a little bit. Buy a lot of frozen fruit and vegetables instead. It’s the next best thing to fresh. I rely heavily on home-made protein shakes for meals during the NaNo months. So frozen fruits are a must in the house!

4. Wipe down all services and vacuum.

There’s something about an uncluttered room or home that just brings peace of mind. Albert Einstein famously said, “if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

I’ve never liked this quote. As a minimalist, I like things empty, neat and sorted. I feel like I can’t be creative or think straight if there’s clutter and disorder. Maybe clutter and disorder works for some people? Obviously it worked for Einstein. But I know me and I know that doesn’t work for me. If you have others in the household with you, have them help.

5. Take the trash out and clean vehicles.

By now this list is probably sounding more like your mother’s list of chores than a pre-writing ritual. I’m not talking about giving your car a wash though. I’m talking about the inside, which can also be a hording place for clutter. Some of us spend a lot of time in our cars driving back and forth on long commutes to work. Or stuck in traffic. Do yourself a favor clean out your car.

6. Pay your bills for the month.

The last thing you need is repeated phone calls or text messages from your credit card company saying, “Hey your payment is late!” It’s very easy to lose track of what day it is during NaNoWriMo. If you can afford it, pay everything a month ahead of time. Don’t just consider any credit card bills, take into account rent/mortgage, property tax, vehicle registration, utilities, memberships, insurance, etc.

7. Clean out the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

Things accumulate over time. It’s only natural. But sometimes that medicine cabinet doesn’t really get looked at too closely. Before long, all sorts of creams, ointments, serums, different size bandages, and medicines stack up. Look under your sinks as well. Throw stuff out!

My pre-writing /pre-nano ritual is basically to do a huge, massive and thorough spring clean on the home. I’d love to know more about how every one else handles their pre-writing time. Perhaps it involves reading a blog post or wearing a funny hat? Please share in the comments below!


#NaNoWriMoBlogChallange #NaNoBloCha
NaNo Challenge for the day:

Use the word PENUMBRA in today’s writing session. [It means “a half-shadow”]

Happy Writing!

Cover 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.

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.

Top 3 Ways to Establish Routine

Dear readers, I’m back. It’s been several months since my last real post and for that, I do apologize. You see, many will tell you that one of the keys of being a successful writer (or being successful at anything) is routine. I confess, I struggle with routine. Big time. This is probably evident will my lack of consistent blog posts.

First and foremost, I envy you. Yes. It’s true. Said it and meant it.

I envy those of you who are students living at home with your parents and those of you who are stay-at-home parents and spouses. I envy the unemployed. Why? Because your schedule is more free and flexible than mine. You can sleep in or take naps in the middle of the day to recover from a bad night’s sleep. You don’t have to deal with people pissing you off at work or during your commute. In a way, I despise what little routine I have.

I have a problem writing at the same time everyday. Truth be told, even though I have a regular Monday-Friday 7-330 job, sometimes (depending on the work load, which is entirely reactive and unpredictable) it becomes a 6am-4pm job or a 5:30 am to 530 pm job. My hours fluctuate but are at least 7-330 and that doesn’t include the traffic (which is horrendous when you have 40,000 employees trying to leave the southern tip of a peninsula at the same time.)

Some authors say that in order to be prolific or successful you need to cram writing in every second you can-like the commute to work. Well, even if I wasn’t driving, I’m one of those types that gets motion sickness if I try to read in a car. I get headaches and nausea. So even taking an Uber would be out of the question (and a waste of money since I have a car in good working condition, as does my man.)

Do I sound like I’m just making excuses not to write yet? Writers can be good at that.

I also lack discipline. It takes a surprising amount of willpower to make yourself sit in front of a screen. As much as our society looks at screens everyday, you’d think that would be easy and it is when you’re playing a game or watching a good movie but it isn’t always great when you’re playing god. And it isn’t always great when you’ve already spent your entire workday staring at a screen, ripping your hair out dealing with HTML code or filling in MS Excel spreadsheets. After eight hours of that, your eyes need a break whether you’ve got “computer glasses” or not.

Forming a routine is not easy for everyone. I’ve heard that once you begin a habit, it will be hard to break. I suppose my current habit is making excuses not to work on my novels, the stories and ideas that I love so much. It’s true. I love those stories and ideas but I’m certainly not treating them like I do. By neglecting them like a bad lover, my creativity and inspiration had gone silent. I admit that I haven’t figured out all of the answers just yet, but I’m committed to finding them which is a huge step in the right direction.

That being said, there is all sorts of advice out there about breaking habits but little about making them.

Things I’m doing to promote routine.

1. Logging progress. There is something to be said about being able to look back and see where you started. Simply setting up a handwritten chart or tracking progress in an electronic spreadsheet can do this. I noticed that during the month of November I was far more determined to succeed at writing. It wasn’t the community and camaraderie of National Novel Writing Month participants (even though they can be great.) Instead it was seeing my goals and progress. I had a clear, defined target which was easily reachable but also enough of a challenge. That’s part of the greatness of the program is that it helps you establish routine. However, you don’t need the program to keep going every day, every month, every year.

No Plot? No Problem! Revised and Expanded Edition: A Low-stress, High-velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

Programs like Scrivener track total project progress and writing session progress. Or you can manually track it through MS Word, MS Excel or any other word processor.

2. Forceful Repetition. Visual and audible queues that remind you to take the action. Set alarms and leave notes for yourself in places that you’ll look.

I keep visual reminders all around my desk. I have a dry-erase board, a calendar, post-its on the wall, organized folders and a filing cabinet to keep everything in order. But hey, what works for me might not work for you and that’s ok. Find out what does and go with it!

3. Having a plan. There is a movie that came out in the 80’s with John Cusack and Demi Moore called One Crazy Summer. One of the characters comes from a military family and often says something along the lines of, “Without a plan there is no attack. Without attack there is no victory.” That being said, you won’t get very far without something to drive towards. I’m not saying you have to outline your novel. I’m saying you need to have goals. Perhaps that goal is 2 hours of writing a day. Perhaps that goal is 2,000 words of writing a day. Or maybe a chapter? Or a scene? Either way it’s important to have goals. It’s difficult to establish routine when every time you sit down you have no idea what you’re supposed to accomplish.

That being said, staying organized can’t hurt. It’s one thing to formulate a plan in your head, it’s another to write it down but that is another post entirely!

I hope this post has helped guide you in some way towards your own path of success. I’ll be sure to let you all know how my organization pans out over the course of my writing career – what worked and what didn’t. Until then…

Happy writing!

-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.

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2017 Pt. 1

9:00 AM

I had forgotten about Camp NaNoWriMo. I had no intention of participating. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever finished a camp session. I’ve always done the traditional November NaNo but even then, I haven’t always finished strong. So why am I participating this time around? That’s a good question.

As I was reminded of the events two days prior to its starting, I received a sudden rush of excitement and thought, “This is exactly what I need!” As luck would have it, this year’s camp starts on a Saturday, I happen to not be working overtime, and my better half has Navy duty. Therefore, I have a free weekend all to myself. With an open schedule and a project that has stalled twice, I felt that this was exactly what I needed to get the gears going again.

Nano is always an adventure.

I crawled into bed last night with the intention of waking up at midnight, driving out to the local 24-hour Wawa, buying some Vienna roast coffee, and coming back home to bleed and sweat and cry over the keyboard for hours and hours on end. In the old days of NaNo, that would’ve happened. I used to stay up until midnight, waiting for the clock to strike twelve. Or I’d wake up at midnight after a short nap, and feverishly start typing at the keyboard.

However, at the age of 30, and with a full-time job that normally has me up at 5 AM, staying up until midnight is not the easiest thing to do. After a long week at work, it was better to sleep. By “sleeping in” I mean staying in bed until 6 AM. I did allow myself to relax and rolled out of bed closer to 7 AM.

Did I head straight to the computer?

No.

I spent the first two hours doing things that I should’ve done yesterday. I wiped down the kitchen counters, cleaned off the kitchen table, put laundry away, and took out the trash. Then I proceeded to Wawa and got my Vienna roast coffee. Driving back home, I sat in front of the monitor and contemplated what to do next.

The obvious answer would be to write.

But that’s easier said than done. I wasn’t sure whether I should work on my blog, or work on my book. I wasn’t sure whether or not I should include the word count for my blog posts during this month as part of my 50,000 words. The only thing I was sure about was that I needed a new headset because the earpieces on mine are disintegrating. Gross.

I wanted to go into this one head first. Something I haven’t done a long time… I planned to update my Twitter and Facebook accounts regularly as I added words to my story.

My Project of Choice…?

The World Beneath.

The World Beneath is a story that has stalled twice. Completely starting over for the third time wasn’t as crushing as predicted. The thing is, I didn’t like my main character. I didn’t care about him. I wasn’t invested in him. This can be a HUGE block to an author. If you’re not interested in the story, how can you expect readers to be?




Some previous scenes seemed wonderful and perfect. Others seemed too rushed and out of place. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s important to never publish something that you’re not happy with as a writer or an artist. Without further ado, I started my camp journey in a very non-camp atmosphere. My story, The World Beneath, takes place in a cold, northern town and starts out with the memory of a hockey game.

12:00 Noon

In the past three hours, I have reached over 2200 words. I could’ve written a lot more since I’m dictating with DragonNaturally Speaking. Some people say that’s cheating, but anything that gets words on the page counts, in my opinion. Within these last three hours, I’ve proved that the busier you are the more productive you can be- not to be confused with multitasking. Multitasking is counter-productive. Instead, I focused on one task at a time. I focused on my writing. Then, I took a break. I did other things that needed to be done around the house.

During those 2200 words, I cleaned out my car. I checked the gauge on the AC refrigerant, I changed the cabin air filter and I refilled the windshield wiper fluid. All in all, it’s been a productive day and I’m only halfway through!

During this next three-hour session, I’d like to more than double my word count. But taking breaks is important.

Writers (or at least those of us who participate in NaNo) need to take breaks. If we were to sit down at the computer all day for 10+ hours trying to churn out a novel, we’d be killing ourselves. It’s not healthy.

It’s good for the body to get up every once in a while, stretch, walk around. Doing something different is good for the mind. More importantly, it’s good for your writing. It helps to come back with a fresh perspective. Even if it’s a matter of minutes. If you focus wholly on one new task your mind leaves your story. Don’t be afraid to step away and take care of something else.

3:00 PM

I’m proud to say that I have reached over 7000 words (7890). But just like before, I told myself I wouldn’t sit in front of the computer for all three hours. I actually took a shower (for those of you who are familiar with NaNoWriMo, you know bathing is usually a feat to accomplish every day…along with eating.) Don’t worry. I fed myself.

When I sat down yesterday to make a schedule of writing goals based on my calendar for the month, I told myself that I would write 20,000 words today. At first, I didn’t think I could do it. Now I’m starting to second-guess myself. Maybe it wasn’t such an unrealistic goal? At this point in time, I’ll be happy if I reach 10,000 tonight. That means that one-fifth of the monthly goal will be met and I would’ve proved to myself that I can write 10,000 words in a day.

For those of you who don’t write, 10,000 words a day is a lot.

Stephen King is quoted as saying that he writes 2,000 words a day. Granted, I’ve been cheating a little. Like I said earlier, I’m using dictation. Some writers are firmly against it. They say it isn’t real writing. However, I think it’s important to grow with technology. I bet when typewriters first came out, there were people against it. Hell, I still know writers who prefer handwriting. I don’t get it. You have to get it on a computer if you want to publish it. To each his own.

Dictation takes practice. Now that I’m familiar with it, I can see it is a very useful tool for writing rough drafts especially. There are ways to use it for editing but I prefer to take my time and go through things line by line for that. Dictation gets words on the page much faster. Normally, I type about 1500 to 2000 words an hour. With dictation, I can type closer to 5000 words an hour. That more than doubles my productivity.

Using dictation has allowed me to get away from the desk. It also helps with my oral communication. I’m decent with written communication but sometimes I still stutter and stammer or trip over my words, slur my words, run them together, or talk too fast. Using dictation is a great way to clear up your speech. If you don’t speak clearly, the computer will type incorrectly.




As the evening ticks by, I know that days like today will be rare. Even with dictation, I know that days with no plans are rarities anymore. This could be the only day like this, this month. I have no clue. I’m trying to take full advantage of it but at the same time, I’m trying to prepare a reasonable schedule for the month ahead. As long as you get ahead on the slow days, you won’t have to write so much on the busier ones. That is the key to being successful during NaNo. Get ahead at the start.

I want to keep trucking along and try to hit 10,000 words by 6 PM and 15,000 words by 9 PM. See you then!

6:00 PM

Let’s see. I have vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, and reached over 10,000 words (10,311). I think it’s safe to say that if I keep going I will reach 15,000 words by 9 PM. But then comes the question, should I quit while I’m ahead? Or should I keep on rolling while it’s flowing?

When I logged into my Camp NaNoWriMo account and went to the “My Projects” page, I noticed that this is the thirteenth camp that I’ve signed up for. Only six of those previous camps did I even have a project in mind. Of those six, only two of them I wrote words for. But out of all thirteen, I never finished one with 50,000 words or more. That’s a depressing success rate.

I am bound and determined not to let that happen anymore.

NaNoWriMo is such a great resource for writers. Granted, you should be writing every day but life gets hectic. I understand that. I tell myself every NaNo, “if I can stick with this and write a novel or two every camp, I would have four to eight rough drafts a year that I could edit in between NaNo months.”

For the first time in a long time, NaNo is fun. Granted, it’s only day one but I’m having fun dictating my novel. I’m having fun writing. I don’t know where the switch happened. For years, it felt like a drag. My passion had turned into a chore.

This has been one of the most productive days I have ever had in the history of my writing life. I’ve never written this much in a day. Last November, I verified my project’s word count on the last day instead of updating through the month. That made it look like I had written 80,000 words in one day but I hadn’t. I’ll never wait that long to update my word count again. There is something very satisfying about seeing that status bar go up when you update your word count.

9:00 PM

I have 122 unread Camp NaNoWriMo emails dating back to 2014. That’s nine pages of camp email! And that doesn’t include the 70 unread emails I have on my regular NaNo account. I would hate to delete them because they are usually filled with great advice that I may need it in the days to come. Not every day is a good writing day. Not every day is like today.

Once I passed the 10,000-word threshold, I stopped. I figured I’d spend the rest of the evening relaxing and preparing for tomorrow’s writing day.

One week from today, I will post another blog in a similar format to this one since the weekends will be my most productive days.

Happy Camping!

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.