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: Cory Benson

Member Profile: Cory Benson

Check out Cory’s website: bikerumor.com

Where are you from?
I am from a small city near Washington, D.C. called Frederick, Maryland. It’s the first city outside
Washington, D.C. that’s not a suburb.
What’s a fun or interesting fact about where you’re from?
The region is very closely tied to Chesapeake Bay and seafood and it’s basically the only thing I miss from growing up: fresh crabs, oysters…

What do you do?
I am a cycling journalist. I report on new bikes, test them, and travel around Europe riding and reporting about new bikes.

What are you currently working on that you’re most excited about?
I am looking forward to riding in new places with friends I meet a few times a year. The next project is called “Rapha Prestige Bohemia” and is a team competition along the German/Czech border. The region is called “Saxon Switzerland” [on the German side] and across the border [on the Czech side] it’s “Bohemian Switzerland”.

Why did you choose to work from Prague?
I married a Czech woman in the USA, it was a good opportunity to return to Czech Republic.
It’s good to work in a lower stress environment. Having kids and raising them is easier and more
relaxed here.
 
Why did you choose to work from a coworking space?
I am not productive at home. I need peer pressure to be motivated. I also needed a place to bring
professional meetings. When I started to work in Locus I had a very different job, I was an architect so
I needed a more professional environment both to attract and maintain developer client relationships.
 
Why did you choose Locus in particular?
The location was a big deal. I started in the former Locus location and I really needed a professional environment and it worked well for the needs I had at that time.
What describes the kind of location-independent work you do?
I work for a company based in the US and I manage a group of remote freelancers in Europe. I am a remote manager. I am definitely based in Prague but I travel out of Prague 30 or 40 times a year both for work and for fun.
Before you joined a coworking space, what were the biggest challenges of doing that kind of work?
One is trying to strike a balance between work and play. Traveling is tiring, I need to recover but don’t
have time for it. Work traveling can be very entertaining but time consuming. Before joining a coworking
space, the biggest challenge was separating the work and play: riding a bike for fun or riding a bike as a job.
 
How have you overcome those challenges?
By separating work and home physically. Commuting to the office by bike gives me the chance to move
away from the home life and be ready for the work day.
 
What is the main benefit you’ve gotten working from Locus (not already mentioned above)?
Having a place that is reliable. Here, I don’t have to worry about it when I come back from traveling
or from the weekend. I can just come to Locus, sit down, and start working.
What’s the best thing about living and working in Prague from the perspective of being a location-independent professional?
It’s a city which is central in Europe and it’s really easy to drive to the Alps or Belgium. The airport is
good and it takes me few hours by plane to go anywhere in Europe, which is good for my work. I can
get on my bike and be completely out of the city within half an hour, Prague ends relatively quickly.
 
Any other interesting projects you’re working on that you haven’t mentioned already?
I have an upcoming trip to Mallorca, then a road trip to Switzerland, then I’ll be in Tenerife in November.
These are all work trips.
 
What is a fun fact about you?
I don’t have only one job: I was a stonemason first, now I am a journalist, I am also a licensed architect. I was the first green building LEED accredited professional in the Czech Republic and I teach building technologies at International Architecture University in Prague.

FOCUS on Digital Nomads: Kevin Ohashi

FOCUS on Digital Nomads: Kevin Ohashi

Check out Kevin’s website: reviewsignal.com

Name: Kevin Ohashi

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Academic background: Bachelor degree in Economis, minor in computer science.
2 Master’s degrees in Entrepreneurship and International Marketing and Brand management.
 
Without talking about work, tell us a bit about who you are and what you value.
I’m an introvert but everybody thinks I’m an extrovert. I’m the kind of guy who plays video games in the coworking space.

What do you do that allows you to be location independent?
I run a company called “Review Signal” which does web posting reviews based on analyzing social media posts. I also do consulting. I have worked with individuals up to big companies solving a variety of problems related to big data, web marketing or software development.

How would you say that being location independent has changed your life?
I don’t think it has changed my life. I feel like travelling has always been a part of my life. My family worked in international development and they traveled around my entire life so travelling is in my DNA. I started my first location-independent business at the age of 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Travelling has always been my life.

How many countries have you visited and which one did you prefer?
I have visited 44 countries. I spent more time in Thailand than anywhere else because I like it there. I was raised with Thai housekeepers in the family, one of whom has been longer in the family than my little brother and sister! I grew up with the food, the culture, and I have been there many times.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced living a nomadic lifestyle?
The biggest challenge is the routine. Every time you are in a new city, you have no pattern and finding discipline and routine can be difficult. And also having “normal” relationships with friends, I mean both maintaining existing friendships and making new ones.

What advice would you give someone who wants to run their own business and travel often?
I see a lot of young people who want to live remotely with little experience and connections or network and it’s difficult to build those when travelling. Especially when going from high-paying countries to cheap or poor ones. It’s better to know when you’re going to make your money from before you leave. I think missing out on that local experience and connections can be harmful in the long run. Some places are much better than others to make business, like Europe.

Why did you choose Locus Workspace to work when you first came to Prague?
I first came to Locus in 2016, I was living nearby. I was looking for a coworking space so I decided to check it out and had a free day.

Why do you think Locus Workspace is a good place for digital nomads?
Prague in general is a nice city for digital nomads. I like it for the community aspect, I get to meet people and hang out. Meeting people and making friends is the most difficult part so this coworking space facilitates creating a community and getting people included in that community.

What is the best thing about working and living in Prague from a digital nomad’s point of view?
The cheaper cost of living and Prague is a beautiful, small and easy city. It does not take more than 20 minutes to go anywhere. I also like all the weird bars and enjoy the lack of fashion which feels very liberating!

Imagine that you had one month to travel anywhere in the world (money not being an issue), where would you go and why?
That’s the question I ask myself every day! I definitely want to go scuba diving in the Galapagos.

What is a fun fact about you?
I was once bitten in the butt by a tiger. I won’t give any further information!

Intern Profile: Julie Cantrel

Intern Profile: Julie Cantrel

Hometown: Hersin-Coupigny, France

After getting a high school degree in Economics, Julie decided to enroll in a business school in the North of France (ISCID-CO) to study International Marketing and E-Business. She got her Bachelor’s degree with Honours and pursued her studies in the same area to get a Master’s degree. She has never worked in a coworking space before but she is very interested in discovering how it works and really enjoys cross-cultural environments.

Occupation: Intern/Student

Field of Study: International Marketing and E-Business

Why did you decide to study International Marketing and e-Business?
I have always wanted to study something related to languages or with an international dimension. When I was in my final year in high school, I talked with a girl who was studying marketing. She explained to me what she was doing at school and I realised it was what I wanted to study. Therefore I started to look for international business schools so I could both improve my language skills and study marketing. I found my school thanks to an article in a local newspaper, I went there for a tour and immediately decided to give them my application form. It turned out that they propose a Master’s degree in International Marketing and e-Business, which was perfect for me because I am also interested in new technologies and webmarketing.

Why did you decide to intern at Locus?
I found Locus’s traineeship offer on a website specialized for Erasmus internships. I decided to apply because it gathers two things I like: being in contact with people and managing social media and events.

What are some of your goals for this internship?
The main goal of this internship is getting the opportunity to work in a pleasant and cross-cultural environment, learning more about new approaches to work (freelance, remote work, digital nomadism, etc.) and strengthening my web marketing skills.

What kind of responsibilities do you have as Community and Event Manager? 
First, we have to make sure that the space looks nice and is welcoming and that members have what they need at their disposal. When people are interested in becoming a Locus member, they can come for a tour and a free day within the space and it’s the manager’s responsibility to ensure people are enjoying their time at Locus. Moreover, we organize weekly and monthly events to animate the community, to know one another a bit better and to have good moments together.

Did you already have an idea of what a coworking space was before you joined Locus?
I had some idea about what a coworking space could be, but I had to do some research to make sure I was not mistaken! Working from a coworking space offers lots of benefits: a nice and quiet environment to focus on your tasks and a sense of community which is crucial from my point of view.

How do you fit in at Locus?
There is always something to be done at Locus so you never get bored! Some days are quieter than others thus we have more time to write articles or design great social media posts.

What are the benefits of interning at Locus?
Working at Locus helps you overcome shyness and become pro-active. After few weeks within the space you are able to anticipate members’ needs. As written on the main door, it’s a “Hate Free Zone” so everyone is free to express themselves and has both something to offer and learn.

What is your favorite part about Locus and why?
I really enjoy the spontaneity. When some members suddenly stand up and improvise a coffee break or go and have lunch together. In these moments you can feel the sense of community and I love it. I also like the diversity, how each one is different but we are all working next to each other in the end. In most cases, members are willing to chat while drinking a cup of coffee and it’s very pleasant.

Member Profile: Fredrik Lyhagen

Member Profile: Fredrik Lyhagen
Check out Fredrik’s website here
 
What is your name? Fredrik Lyhagen
Where are you from?
Landskrona, Sweden
What’s a fun or interesting fact about where you’re from?
It was founded in 1413 when the southern part of Sweden was Danish and the city was intended to become the capital of the region called Scania. Landskrona directly translates to “the crown of the country”.

What do you do?I’m currently running the alliance with IBM for American IT-company Juniper Networks covering the Middle East, Turkey, Africa region. And in my spare time, I’m building a business around my passion for leadership in a context of purpose beyond profit so I work with senior management teams to transform business for good. Note the dual meaning of “for good”. 

What are you currently working on that you’re most excited about?At the moment I’m focused on delivering three-day experiences for management teams in large international companies. The course is centered on self-leadership on the premise that leadership is the conversation and you can’t relate to others greater than you can relate to yourself. It’s through a partnership with Oxford Leadership.
Why did you choose to work from Prague?
My wife is Czech. We met in Amsterdam where we were both working, and when we became parents we moved to Prague after a 3 years detour to Sweden.
Why did you choose to work from a coworking space?
I was either sitting at home or traveling. I have stuck at Locus because I’m much more productive and there are fewer distractions. There’s a social aspect as well, so I have someone to get lunch or coffee with. Now over the years I have developed friendships and have collaborated with some people business-wise.
Why did you choose Locus in particular?
I heard through word of mouth about Locus originally. I tried a few other coworking spots in Prague, but I’ve stuck with Locus because the atmosphere is unique compared to those other spaces. The mix of nationalities, different professions, and it’s very laid back.
What best describes the kind of location-independent work you do?
Stable because I am settled here with my family, but still work remotely and travel.
Before you joined a coworking space, what were the biggest challenges of doing that kind of work?I felt lonely and was struggling to stay focused. Since joining Locus my productivity has gone up and both my personal life and business has benefited from being a part of this environment.
What is the main benefit you’ve gotten working from Locus (not already mentioned above)?
I do my best work here, and the social network.

What’s the best thing about living and working in Prague, from the perspective of being a location-independent professional?
It’s the perfect size for a city; big enough to have everything but small enough to get around easily. The big international community, the beauty of the city, and the location in Central Europe makes it a great place to live.
Any other interesting projects you’re working on that you haven’t mentioned already?
Yes, observing what’s going on in the world as well as drawing from my experience from both corporate life and general life experience, I’ve become very interested in male identity. I think the male identity is in a crisis so I’m now working on setting up a community to help men live closer to their heart. I think it’s critical for a sustainable and inclusive development of this world that we have positive male role models, and this work starts with each one of us.
What is a fun fact about you?
In 1998 I released a five-track CD.