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/

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.

Coworking or Working in a Home Office

I have now experienced both working from home and working from a coworking space.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages. As my business changes from freelancing to bringing others on board to help, a home office is no longer suitable.

 
In an ideal world having both a home office and a desk in a coworking environment is the best option.  There are days when it would be great just to stay at home and relax more than I would in an office.  Very occasionally I miss having an office at home during the weekends. – I have ended up working weekends three or four times during the year, so it is not a huge drawback going to the office.

The Benefits of a Home Office

I always like the time saving when working from home.  Breakfast, shower, then work – rather than having to spend time going to an office.  I have sometimes found myself not leaving the house for two or three days, I am sure that is not great for my mental welfare.

Young Children and Home Office

My youngest is now nineteen months.  For the first two months, it was great working from home – though I did a lot less work than normal.  To be there to help was good for everyone.

Not Being Around Other People

I can find other people trying.  It is often much easier to separate myself and get on with work.  I have worked in places where co-workers would be highly negative, be very loud, interrupt with a bloody cat video that you really have to watch because it is such a laugh – there are times when people can drive me mad.
 
However, while working from home I found that a day or two could pass without having a conversation with anyone except my other half in the evening.  Sometimes the isolation was so much that I would walk to the shop just to get out of the house.  So my high points on personal interaction was a brief conversation with a shop assistant.  Not great.

Quiet

At times I need complete quiet around me for some tasks that require deep concentration or while creating videos.  It is impossible in an open office to have good sound quality on videos while others are talking nearby.
 
Thankfully the coworking space I inhabit has a meeting room.

High Self Discipline

During the last ten years, I have worked from home about half of the time.  This has created great self-discipline.  No matter what is going on around me I can sit down and get on with the work at hand.

The Benefits of Coworking

I work now from Locus in Prague.  For my clients, it would make no difference what city I was in.  I have met a few coworkers that use this flexibility to live in and see other cities in Europe.

Professional Environment

Only once while working from home was my office not a spare bedroom. Even then that office turned into a bit of a store room. Due to remotely working with clients I use video and screen share.
I find it embarrassing to have a bed or storage boxes in the background while having calls.  I know many do not like this – but image is hugely important in business, (and in life).  First impression matter.
 
It does not matter if others are in the background having calls or talking while I am on a call – this is what I expect in any office.

Office Address

Like most other around me, I find most of my business via my website.  I have seen competitors use their home address on their website.  It does not look professional; at least a virtual membership in a coworking space looks after this aspect.
 
Additionally, most coworking spaces are in the centre of cities.  This makes it easier to meet with clients.
 
Google local is likely the most important part of SEO for many smaller local businesses. It is much better to turn up in these searches in the middle of a city with higher search volume than in some small village or town.

Everything is Organised

The internet connection is fast and I never have to touch it.  The coffee machine works and I never have to clean it.  The trash is emptied and I never have to think about it.  You get the picture.
A large amount of trivial items that have to be organised in your own office are there and working.  This lets me just get on with work, instead of making lists of things that need to be done that steal away my time.

Being Around Other People

I run a few websites and an SEO company.  Ideas come more often when interacting with others.  I get information from people about tools for writing, publishing, project management, the list is endless.  I understand that I can look up this information online.  Running websites has imbued me with a lack of trust in most information online – everyone has an agenda – as one of my philosophy lecturers who was also a priest told me, as I was arguing about his agenda.
 
We started a mastermind group that includes six members.  We meet every two weeks, talk about problems, set goals, and are held accountable for these.  This has improved my work tremendously forcing me to regularly review goals and stick with them.

Separation of Work and Home

I have been out of my home office and back in coworking for the last three months. This has been the biggest advantage – when I am at home I am not thinking about work and at work I am not thinking of home.
 
While working at home, sometime during breakfast my head would move into work and I was less present for my family.  Lunch could be a challenge to talk about non-work related subjects.  I would eat my lunch and head right back to my office.
 
Now I find myself talking more with my other half during lunch on the phone than I did while working at home – who would have guessed?

Better Concentration Skills

Over time, concentration skills become better if you work in environments that are not completely quiet.  This can be difficult in the beginning and some perseverance is required.  But you can end up being able to work anywhere, which is a great habit to develop.
 

I have made my choice, working in the company of other people is more stimulating, encouraging, and motivational for my temperament. Leslie writes on his own blog, but more often on his company website.