Making Dreams Reality with NaNoWriMo

Making Dreams Reality with NaNoWriMo

by Beth Green

Today is Halloween, so it’s an appropriate day to ask: What are you afraid of? What specific dread creeps up on you in the dark, when you’re alone?

Many Locus members, I suspect, share one of my fears: The fear of leaving a dream unrealized.

That one project you’ve always wanted to dive into; a pool of potential that only you recognize. Whether that’s a side business you know would be a hit, a spec project that could have real damn legs if only you could take the time to tinker with it, or a creative oeuvre no one is paying for (yet) but you just know deserves to be made real.

A few months ago, Locus Workspace owner Will Bennis sent out a survey asking us about these types of projects. As he called them, “the ones that stay in your mind for years.”  Exactly half of the respondents confessed that they had nurtured a project idea for years that they had not yet managed to complete.

It is for this half of the population that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was created. And is this group within Locus Workspace that I would like to invite to the NaNoWriMo Write-Ins that I’ll be hosting on November 4th and 25th in the big conference room. (OK, I lied. All Locus members are invited!)

What is NaNoWriMo?

In case you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, a quick explanation: It’s a 30-day event, held in November, in which participants challenge themselves to write the first, hilariously messy draft of a 50,000-word novel. In other words, it’s an opportunity and a blueprint for setting aside time to get one of these big projects out of your head and into the real world.

For most NaNoWriMo participants, this is a novel, but NaNoRebels may choose to write a series of poems, or essays, or work on a thesis, or storyboard an indie film, or whatever their beautiful, messy minds come up with. In the past 15 years, I’ve personally used NaNoWriMo for momentum to edit existing drafts and do a series of travel memoir essays in addition to novel first drafts.

Now do every one of the projects that the estimated 400,000 participants (last year’s numbers) take on turn into a masterpiece? Maybe not. But many do. NaNoWriMo projects that ended up as published novels include Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (later a movie), The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Wool by Hugh Howey.

Much like you might join the gym to help you get ready to run a marathon, or take salsa lessons to make sure that you don’t embarrass yourself at your cousin’s wedding next year, or any other kind of small incremental goal that leads up to something more significant, NaNoWriMo encourages you to think of novel writing as something that you practice a little bit each day to work towards one giant goal.

And that’s a takeaway for all of us.

OK, What’s a Write-in?

Though the NaNoWriMo founders maintained that everyone could write a novel with just the scraps of free time that we have when waiting for the tram, for rice to boil, for the conference call to be over, most of us find it helpful during the month to set aside longer chunks of time to write.

At the write-ins on Nov. 4 and 25, we’ll have a quiet, welcoming space (and coffee and donuts! And official NaNoWriMo swag!) for anyone who wants to come and work on their writing project. Often, we use Pomodoro sessions to help focus, and sometimes we set group goals or talk over plot problems. (For more info, check out my blog post from last year’s write-ins)

You are welcome to come to our write-ins, even if you’re not participating in the full NaNoWriMo event. The more, the merrier!

Happy writing!

RSVP links

Sun, Nov. 4th, 10:00-4:30
Sun, Nov. 25th, 10:00-4:30
http://meetu.ps/c/LTHg/jl88s/f

Other Opportunities to Write at Locus

Interested in other opportunities to work on a big project with the moral support of other writers? The Prague Writers’ group holds weekly critique-free writing sessions on Saturdays at Locus. Learn more at:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/263394070348958/

Member Profile: Beth Green

Beth Green is a freelance writer and cherished member of Locus Workspace. She comes from the western United States and has been living overseas since 2003. We wanted to find out a little more about Beth’s journey – as a traveler, a writer, and an avid participant of National Novel Writing Month. Read on to learn more about Beth’s passion for writing, her take on Locus Workspace, and the impact National Novel Writing Month (and writing in general) has had on her life.
What is your occupation?
I am a freelance writer and most of my clients come to me for copy writing, copy editing, or proofreading. I also do some consulting for small businesses. I really enjoy doing a variety of projects, ranging from writing brochures to grants to proofreading academic papers. Basically, if it has to do with words, in English, I try to help.
How did you get into this field?

I trained as a print journalist. I worked at a newspaper before I moved abroad. I actually taught English as a Second Language for about ten years. Teaching, however, takes a lot of energy. I started getting burned out and saw that I wasn’t benefiting my students. Then I decided to take the skills from journalism and teaching and channel them into communications.

 

Was writing a passion of yours all along?
Since I was maybe eight years old, I knew I would be a writer. After I moved overseas, I kept a travel blog pretty faithfully for about six years, and that was also the first niche for me as a freelance writer. I don’t do that kind of writing so much now.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I am working with a grant writer in the US, helping her with research and editing grant documents, which has been rewarding. I have other clients and projects, but some have to remain private. I also have an ongoing relationship with the First Medical Faculty at Charles University. I review papers for a group of research scientists before they send them out to journals. I should also remember to say I have been lucky enough to get business by word of mouth through Locus and assisted several Locus members with their projects. Thanks, guys!
What is a fun fact about you?
I have the cutest cat in Prague (pictured below). Her name is Nymeria (character from Game of Thrones).
Bonus fact: I grew up on a sailboat.
 
How did you get into coworking?
Well, I’ve lived in Prague twice. I came back the second time for my husband’s job, and it was a bit rushed. We slept on a friend’s floor for a couple months before we had our own housing. Needless to say, her apartment was not the best working environment, so I looked into workspaces right away. During that first year back in Prague, I kept full-time Locus membership. Now I am a virtual member, but it is nice to be able to switch memberships since my work flow tends to change depending on the season. I like that the space is here when I need it.
Why did you choose Locus Workspace?
I joined Locus in 2013. There were two clear choices for me at the time (both of which I found online), but I liked that Locus seemed more geared towards English speakers. When I toured the space, everyone was really friendly.
What is your favorite part about working at Locus?
I really like meeting people and that the space is clean and well-lit, the desks and chairs are comfortable, and there’s a kitchen. I feel like it removes all the stress that can come from working in a café (like the power plug problem, the wifi connection problem, etc.).
If you could use one word to describe Locus, what would it be?

Welcoming.

 

On Writing and National Novel Writing Month

 

What motivates you to write?
This is the eternal question for a lot of writers and it is not easy to answer. Though I’ve been writing since childhood, I didn’t see myself as a fiction writer for a long time. Just about the same time I started NaNoWriMo, I started writing fiction. Writing a story that is long and completely from your own inspiration is really daunting, especially at the beginning. This is one of the reasons I like NaNoWriMo, because the challenge to write 50,000 words in a month pushes you and gives you a space to experiment with this long-form, imaginative writing.
Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on?
Most of my fiction projects are crime fiction – mystery, thrillers, suspense. A big theme I tend towards is cross-culture topics, not necessarily having to do with borders but also people who are outside of their norm and trying to survive in an environment they are not comfortable in. For example, I have a story about an inept assassin that was published in an anthology earlier this year and it is about this woman who tries to do a job she really is not suited for.
 
Interested in Beth’s work? Take a peak at her anthology here.
When and why did you start being involved in NaNoWriMo events?
I’ve been attempting NaNoWriMo since 2003, and with each attempt I became more convinced I could actually do it. I think if you got a group of ten people together and asked them if they ever thought about writing a novel, probably all of them would say yes. Everybody has an idea for a novel or screenplay or some sort of story that they would like to tell and so of course I had that too. NaNoWriMo gave me a space to experiment. Not all of my projects from NaNoWriMo have been spectacular, but all of them helped me learn something, either about myself or about writing.
What has been your favorite/most impactful experience during NaNoWriMo?
I moved to China in 2006, where I lived in a town with few foreigners in it. Because NaNoWriMo is web-based, I was able to connect with other people, both foreigners and Chinese who were English speakers. After two months of living there, I was a little bit lonely and so it was really nice for me to meet other people that shared passion for writing with me. We all went to Starbucks, something familiar, and got together to write novels. It was really nice to know that I could find something I enjoyed in Prague, in the United States, anywhere. I think that is something very cool about NaNoWriMo, that no matter where you are in the world, you can find other people who share your interests.
What advice would you give to people who are interested in NaNoWriMo or writing in general?
A lot people get hung up on the rules of NaNoWriMo – the idea is that you are supposed to sign up and write 50,000 words in a month. A lot of people look at that, and think, Oh my goodness I am never going to write 50,000 words. But, I think that you need to approach it as guidelines rather than rules and I think those people with self-doubt about writing that many words should look at it more like an opportunity to write more than they would have without the challenge. Maybe you won’t write 50,000 words, but if you get to 10,000, that is 10,000 more words than you would have written otherwise. For example, my goal this month is to get to the end of the story arc and if I happen to write 50,000 words along the way, that’s great. So to me, NaNoWriMo is a self-improvement exercise as well as a creative exercise.
Want to hear more from Beth? Read her blog post on NaNoWriMo here.

Come Write at the NaNoWriMo Write-Ins in November!

You don’t have to write alone! Come to the NaNoWriMo write-ins on Nov. 12 and 19!
byPhoto by StockSnap via Pixabay w/ CCO license

By Beth Green

The first time I experienced the spirit of coworking was about 14 years ago, right here in Prague. Someone I knew had roped me into this crazy challenge—we were setting out to each finish a novel in a month by writing 1,667 words a day.

Now of course I, like many of you, had always dreamed that one day I’d write a novel. But was “one day” really turning into “today?” And a novel in a month? Preposterous!
The first few days of the challenge, I pounded away on my keyboard dutifully. The words started to accumulate. The story started to take shape. But as work and life intervened over the course of the first week of November, my drive started to wane. I was ready to quit the challenge. The goal was to write 50,000 words—and I was about 45,000 away. But my friend convinced me to come to a meeting she was holding—a “Write-in,” saying she’d re-energize me and my story.
Nervous, and quite skeptical, I entered the small café in Nove Mesto my friend had chosen. I was late (people, I’m always late) and so a lot of writers were there before me. Laptops and notebooks were spread everywhere and beer mugs and wine glasses filled in the rest of the space. I chose a chair, pulled up the manuscript I was working on and stared at the blank screen like usual.
But instead of being alone at home where the voice of my “inner editor” could taunt me by pointing out that my rough draft was really, you know, ROUGH, I was in a place where everyone seemed to blissfully ignoring their own self doubts. They were typing and scribbling furiously, all trying to create something out of nothing. (Well, except the guy at the end of the table. He was drinking beer and hitting on the waitress by telling her he was a Writer. You know, that guy.) And soon, I was in The Zone too—writing pages and pages of my new draft. Ideas came more easily and what the folks at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) call the “plot bunnies” were all working in my favor.
Since then, I’ve attended NaNoWriMo Write-ins in countries around the world, in noisy coffee shops in Hong Kong and China, weird basement restaurants in Thailand and, of course, right here in the comfortable meeting rooms of Locus Workspace.
Locus NaNoWriMo Write-in 2016
Photos by Beth Green
This November, I’d like to invite the other members of Locus to join me, the Prague Writers Group, and NaNoWriMoers from around the city to come to Write-ins at Locus and tap into that creative coworking spirit together.
Though writing is generally a solitary activity, Write-ins (and the NaNoWriMo community online) help make it a shared endeavor.

The goal of the Write-ins is to simply write. Show up, put your fingers on the keyboard or your pen on the paper and let your creativity do the rest. At the beginning of the meeting you can state goals for the session, if that helps you. I’ll also bring donuts and NaNoWriMo stickers for the people who get there early, so there’s also that. 😎

Check it out! I got some writer goodies to pass out at our Write Ins next month! #nanoprep #NaNoWriMo17 #amwriting pic.twitter.com/q3TSNS6Oar

— Beth Green (@Bethverde) October 26, 2017

Though we’re holding these Write-ins for NaNoWriMoers to get closer to their goals of writing 50,000 words in November, the time is open for any Locus member who wants to come and write or work on another creative project in solidarity with the writers.
When: Sunday Nov. 12 and Sunday Nov. 19 from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. each day.
Where: Locus big meeting room
Cost: Free
Let me know you’re coming at one of the event links:
November 12th:
November 19th:
What is NaNoWriMo? Learn more at nanowrimo.org

The C in Coworking Space Also Stands for Community

We’re excited to be “syndicating” a blog post from Robin Terrell’s amazing blog on the future of work (with a particular emphasis on the location-independent variety): The Global Mobile Worker. This post in particular was meaningful to us because it’s about the meaning of community, and in particular the community Robin found (and helped create! – Thanks, Robin!) at Locus.

Along with creating this blog and being a member of Locus, Robin is a Berkeley-educated lawyer, a writer (her book, Two Broke Chicasa travelogue about her adventures traveling around Central & South America, Mexico, and Cuba with her partner–is available on Amazon), a technology / startup junkie, a proud Amazon employee.

We’re excited to be able to share her blog post here…

wordgram-of-cowork
When I first arrived in town I used Meetup to find people who shared common interest. That led me straight to Locus Coworking space. Once in the door, I quickly connected with both the startup community and the writing community, common members of co-working spaces. It has been almost three years now and although I never signed up to co-work at Locus, I realized that I spent time in one of the two spaces at least once a week.
When my new job took me away from Prague for months, my homecoming included reconnecting with my friends at Locus. I write every Saturday with a dedicated group, committed to various forms of media that involve the written word. We have bloggers, and novelists, and game script writers, and PhD students writing a thesis. We come from different countries, different generations, different genders. Our bond is a long-term fascination with words on a page.
It was through Locus that I joined my E-publishing Mastermind group that has single-handedly taken me from talking smack to preparing to upload my first ebook, Two Broke Chicas, a Travel Series, December 26th, just in time for people to use their Christmas gift cards and make their New Year’s Resolution to travel more. Mentor members, like successful sci-fi writer, Bill King, have made my dreams come true.
While plopped on a big fluffy couch to wait for the group to start, I realized how important Locus was to my social life, and sense of being, in Prague. What my virtual membership gave me access to, besides one day a month and access to my e-Publishing Mastermind group, was a community. A place I could belong with people who shared my passion for a flexible work life.

Community = Thrive

Just like we need a Tribe, we need a community. Research found that people who belong to a co-working space report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices. Read more: Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces
infographic-co-work
Grind, is a growing network of coworking spaces in New York and Chicago. Community manager, Anthony Marinos, shared, “When it comes to cultivating our community at Grind, we’re all about the human element. We consider ourselves as much a hospitality company as we do a workspace provider. Our staff knows all of our members by name and profession, and we’re constantly facilitating introductions between Grindists.”
Research in Forbes magazine showed that entrepreneurs with larger and more diverse networks grow their businesses bigger.Co-working spaces can be a place for women, known for being great communicators and collaborators, who don’t excel at building power networks can find a safe space to start. (Women tend to build deep and narrow networks women-networkwhile men wide and shallow ones.) I’ve added several women to my network from Locus, and started an informal dinner group to encourage young professional women to support each other, over a glass of wine.

Building Intentional Communities

Some experts believe that co-working space should be built more like intentional communities. Example, Brooklyn’s Friends Work Here. Founded by NYC-based Swiss-born designer and entrepreneur Tina Roth-Eisenberg, who’s also behind the international lecture series CreativeMornings (which happens monthly in Prague, but mostly in Czech) and Tattly. The space came as a response to Roth-Eisenberg’s negative experiences in “soulless” coworking places that are more focused on making money than cultivating inspiration among its members.

A Wealth of Human Resources

Locus is how I found my brief dog-sitting gig. I enjoyed several days of pretending to own a dog, forced to take several walks every day, which did wonders for my mental health. I’ve enjoyed people passing through town and people here for the duration, like my friend Sarah who first came when it was Czechslovakia, and still communist. She is at heart a historian, writes historical fiction, and loves talking about the history of this country she calls home, as a well-informed outsider.
It was hysterical and inspiring to sit in on Texas Holdem’ Poker night, where people from around the world turned into ruthless gamblers who might gut you for a pair of Ace. It was motivational to listen to Regina and Mike talk about becoming Courageously Free, and through that relationship I was interviewed for their podcast – which should be out just in time for my book launch.
There were people at Locus doing, looking for, thinking about the exact same things as I was. We all wanted to marry our fascination with social media and our passion for words. I could pick the brains of people who, like me, were inspired by Prague, determined to make their literary dreams come true. We figured out all kinds of ways to make money with words. My critique and Saturday writing buddy, Beth Green, will fix your words for a fee. Which still leaves her time to search for an agent for her first novel, represent on Booklust and @bethverde, and be a Wanderlust columnist at thedisplacednation.com.
My writing group has sustained me, in ways both creatively and emotionally, over noodles and pivo at the Vietnamese restaurant down the street from Locus. We’ve discussed our lives and our loves, U.S. and European politics and the meaning of feminism.
We’ve shared critique groups and book front-cover
launches, like Sonya’s soiree for Under a Caged Sky, held at Locus Slezka, where we toasted with glasses of wine under the skylight, with Prague as the backdrop.

Staying Engaged

partyOnce I’d had that moment of realization, that my co-working space was my community, I started to look around for other ways to participate. Engaged in the social media connection and found easy, fun ways to stay involved. I am looking forward to the Christmas Party catered by Ethnocatering, a social enterprise of migrant women that serves authentic food from Georgia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Armenian. You can’t find this deliciousness in restaurants. I know, I said it, that bad M word. Well, I must own it because here in Prague, I’m a migrant. A tax paying, law abiding expat seeking shelter and new beginnings.
I know I’m not alone in this revelation and would love you to share your experience of finding community in co-working spaces. Tell us your story in the comment section here at the Global Mobile Worker Project.

Negotiating Like a Pro at Locus

On Wednesday February 22 Locus Workspace had the opportunity to host one of our own members, Martin Bednář, to speak on the topic of negotiation. The event Negotiate Like a Pro gave us all insights into the best practices for negotiating, with a focus on business situations. 
Martin is an experienced businessman and today a trainer and coach on topics such as sales, marketing, and negotiating. We learned and discussed what it truly means to be in a negotiating type situation followed by the behavior and language necessary to be a skilled negotiator. Martin was a very engaging and knowledgeable speaker on the topic.

Thank you Martin and thank you to all who participated for making the event a great learning opportunity! 

Please stay up to date with our facebook page and meetup groups to attend similar seminars in the future.