National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts today.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Man writing

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

NaNoWriMo is a way to grow as an author.

The National Novel Writing Month is a mixture of competition and un-competition. During this month aspiring authors attempt to write an entire novel, a novel of at least 50,000 words, during the 30 days of November. That works out to 1667 words per day average. Each participant is competing with themselves to see if they can take an idea and turn it into a finished novel in 30 days. In the spirit of un-competition, anyone who completes their novel is considered a “winner.”

My experiences with NaNoWriMo.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo about 2010. The following year, 2011, I made my first attempt. That ill-fated attempt stalled somewhere around 5000 words. The remnants of that manuscript still reside in the ancient recesses of my computer’s hard drive. While that particular story has not yet emerged into the light of day, the lessons learned put me on the path towards becoming a better writer.

For the next few years, life happened. Then in 2016, I took another try at completing a novel in the 30-day time span. This time I was able to complete the project. That book, initially with the working title “thrift store” took two more years to revise and edit before it was published in late 2017. That manuscript spurred by NaNoWriMo grew from the original 50,000 words to over 80,000 and the title shifted to Casino Robbery, my first published novel.

Because of that accomplishment, I pulled out another one of my partially finished novels and earlier this year that manuscript now revised, edited, and retitled, ended up being published as my second novel “Sasquatch.”

In November of 2017 during NaNoWriMo, I started and finished a novel with the working title “Family Secrets.” Over the next year “Family Secrets” has been revised and edited several times. In 2019, I published that novel using the title Dark Family Secrets:

How did I go about writing 50,000 words in one month?

One of the lessons NaNoWriMo has taught me was the importance of setting deadlines. I have many incomplete books, both fiction and nonfiction, stored away on the hard drive still not finished, some going back 20 years. None of them were ever completed because there was always a busy life and the next shining project getting in the way.

Once I learned to make meeting the deadline my highest priority, at least for that limited period, things started happening. This process has worked for me in writing the first draft, revising, and finally pushing the publish button. I could have drawn each of these tasks out over more time but having a deadline on my calendar forced me to finish a project so that I could check that one off my list, and I would be ready to start on another project next month.

October is my time for preparation for NaNoWriMo.

I didn’t want to cheat myself out of the full experience of writing a novel in 30 days. Not that anyone else would’ve known if I had jumped the gun and started writing early, but I would’ve known. So, I don’t begin to write until November 1. What I do allow myself to do before that date is preparation.

The three books that were finished during NaNoWriMo had some similar features. I thought about the general idea, started making some notes, and selected a working title knowing that title might change. I try to prepare an outline, though it is never in any fine detail. As ideas come for events, scenes if you will, I digitally jot them down. As the scene list grows, I rearrange the order.

When I start to write its very likely new ideas will occur to me, and they will get inserted in my list of events wherever they fit. I’m also likely to find that some of the things I initially thought would be separate scenes all get used in a single chapter.

Another thing I try to have planned before November first is a list of the characters, their names, and a brief description of them. If I’m using a specific location, I may do a little research and write some notes on that location. None of this advanced preparation is firm. Once November 1 arrives, everything is subject to change.

What happened in 2018?

The 2018 NaNoWriMo novel had the working title “Planning Accidents.” It was the second adventure for Arthur Mitchell, the protagonist from my first novel Casino Robbery. For the first time that year, I created a cover that I could use for the e-book edition of the book that ended up being “Planned Accidents” Since then I have completed two other novels.

So, what am I planning to write for NaNoWriMo this year?

I have two possibilities that I am outlining at the moment. I decided not to give you the working titles since I now know that the title will likely change in the process.

If you’ve ever thought about writing a novel, then NaNoWriMo this November, might be just the encouragement you need to get that first draft written. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about writing. If you have questions for me, please send them along. I’ll get back to everyone just as quickly as possible, though as you can see for the next month, I am likely to be extremely busy.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

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Happy Halloween!

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Happy Halloween.
Artwork courtesy of Canva. 

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

 

Wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy Halloween.

Tomorrow starts the very busy month of November. While I don’t want to neglect my readers over the next month this blog will be largely on autopilot. Two of the classes I’m currently teaching are headed towards final exams the first week in December. November is also the NaNoWriMo contest in which writers attempt to write a 50,000 word first draft of their novel during the 30 days of November. Several of my published novels began as NaNoWriMo contest entries.

Most of the posts for the month of November are already written and scheduled. So, these new posts will continue to appear throughout the month of November. As in the past, the blog posts will first appear at 2 AM Pacific Standard Time and the YouTube videos will become available at 1 AM Pacific Standard Time. For those of you in other time zones, you’re going to need to do the conversion math.

Periodically through the month, I will check back with all of you readers, so that I can answer questions as they come in. When December reaches us I will get back to you and let you know how the new novel is progressing.

Here’s hoping you have happy holidays and lots of other happy moments as we move through the fall season and into winter.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Drug Counseling Video #7 Records and Ethics.

Drug Counseling Video #7 Record-Keeping and Ethics.

Drug and alcohol counselors need to know about record-keeping and ethical issues. Record-keeping includes documentation, writing monthly reports and preserving copies of intake paperwork, assessments, and treatment plans. Counselors need to know about their specific code of ethics as well as general ethical issues involving scopes of practice and competency and boundaries.

The Golden Years Don’t Have to Be Sexless

David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Affectionate Couple.
Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

The Golden Years Don’t Have to Be Sexless

Contrary to popular belief, sex isn’t just for the young. It’s a great stress reliever, a form of physical intimacy, and overall health booster for people of all ages, especially the older population. Here are some ways to ensure it stays a part of your life for as long as you want.

Address age-related issues

With age comes several physical changes that can affect our performance or enjoyment in the bedroom. Hormone levels drop and reactions to sexual stimuli slow, which can wreak havoc on your sexual health. There are several ways to address these issues, however, to enjoy a healthy and fulfilled sex life, no matter your age.

Older men who experience erectile dysfunction– like 60% of men in their 60s do, mildly or moderately– should speak with a doctor about a daily medication like tadalafil (generic Cialis) that improves the ability to get and maintain an erection, and enjoy more dependable functioning. Older women who have dryness– which nearly 1 in 3 experience after menopause– can benefit from a vaginal estrogen cream like Premarin that helps rebuild tissue atrophied with age, and provide a more comfortable experience. Facing these issues head-on can help ensure you and your partner maintain satisfactory sex lives, despite any physical changes that often come with age.

Get creative in the bedroom

If you and your partner have grown old together, your relationship may have become a little too familiar. All too often, the cause of a sexual dry spell is due to boredom in routine. If you and your partner have become indifferent in your physicality, it may be time to bring in some new experimentation to your sex lives.

Many couples benefit from adding in different aspects to their intimacy, like new positions or foreplay in order to experience a sense of freshness and excitement. And, trying something new together is a great way to build intimacy in your relationship and bond as a couple. Just be sure to bring up any thoughts to your partner ahead of time to ensure you’re both comfortable trying, then consider making it a game or competition to stay positive and fun. If your partner is uncertain, it’s imperative that you’re patient so you can maintain a healthy channel of sexual communication with them.

Communicate with your partner

As most couples have experienced, a significant aspect of physical intimacy relies on emotional closeness and effective communication. If you struggle to openly communicate with your partner, whether about your physical intimacy or your relationship in general, look into the root cause. Do you or your partner shut down conversations once they get uncomfortable? Does either of you tend to take an accusatory tone when discussing solutions? These are all ways to sabotage your communication as a couple and can filter into issues in the bedroom as your relationship grows older.

Be sure you’re both being open, honest, and understanding while trying to share your feelings, and don’t put any limits on the conversation. Get comfortable being completely open about your thoughts to develop a deeper intimate connection and improve your sexual satisfaction. Then, discuss likes, dislikes, or fantasies in the bedroom; it’s crucial that you and your significant other are performing constant check-ins before, after, and even during sex.

Whatever method you and your partner use, be sure you’re not becoming complacent in your sex life together. It’s important to both your relational and personal health that your sex life lasts well into your golden years.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Are unhelpful thoughts causing you problems?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Woman thinking

Unhelpful Negative Thoughts.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What are unhelpful thoughts?

Unhelpful thoughts are part of some people’s self-talk. What you tell yourself often enough becomes automatic thoughts. Becoming aware of the negative messages you’re giving your brain and challenging those messages is a part of the process of change that we call Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

In the early days of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT,) researchers and theoreticians noticed a connection between the kind of automatic thoughts or self-talk that some people engaged in and the development of severe mental illnesses, particularly depression and anxiety. Originally these kinds of thoughts were described as irrational thoughts or dysfunctional thoughts. Those labels seem to me to be judgmental. Recently I’ve noticed therapists using the term unhelpful thoughts, and I believe that’s a much better way to describe these automatic thoughts.

Most of these unhelpful thoughts are the result of one or more informal logical fallacies. When you think unhelpful thoughts, they seem true to you, but when an outside observer looks at the evidence, these unhelpful thoughts don’t hold up. These categories of unhelpful thoughts may be called by different names, but here is my version.

All-or-nothing thinking is unhelpful.

This unhelpful thought involves looking at things in black-or-white or yes-or-no categories. For the person with all-or-nothing thinking, there is no middle ground. They tell themselves, “I must be perfect, or I’m a failure.” This type of thinking has led to an increase in depression and even suicide attempts at some of the prestigious colleges where students fall into the trap of believing there only two grades and A or a Not-A. This is a form of perfectionism in which one flaw makes the person worthless. While striving for self-improvement is worthwhile, believing that you must be perfect or you’re no good, will undermine your self-esteem and lead to depression.

Overgeneralization from a negative experience is an unhelpful thought.

This unhelpful thought involves the belief that one negative experience predicts the future. The person tells themselves, “I didn’t get hired for this job. I’ll never get any job.” If you get turned down for a date, you tell yourself no one will ever like me, and I will be alone the left rest of my life.

Having a negative mental filter creates unhelpful thoughts.

Someone with a negative mental filter never sees their accomplishments but only their mistakes. The student who gets one question wrong on a test believes that that means they’re stupid despite the overwhelming number of correct answers.

A person with a negative mental filter fails to get a promotion or is turned down for a raise, and they believe that means they are no good at their jobs and are at risk of being fired.

Discounting the positive is a common unhelpful thought.

Someone with this unhelpful thought might apply for a job and get hired, but rather than believing this is because they were a good candidate, they will tell themselves they only got hired because nobody better applied. No matter how many successes this person has; they only remember their failures and expect to fail the next time they attempt something.

Mind reading is a very unhelpful way of thinking.

People who practice mind-reading believe that when someone doesn’t return a phone call, this means that that person hates them. The mind reader is continually telling themselves that something terrible is about to happen. Since they always predict the worst, they see the worst in every person and situation they encounter. Expecting your partner to be a mind reader is an unhelpful thought that comes up often in couples counseling.

Jumping to dire conclusions is an unhelpful thought.

The jumping to conclusions unhelpful thought takes you from the weather report saying it will rain tomorrow to canceling your camping trip because you’re sure there’s likely to be flooding and lightning might strike your camp.

People with this unhelpful thought process always expect the worst possible outcome. It won’t invest in a retirement account because the stock market might crash. They don’t want to go on a vacation because the plane might crash.

Emotional reasoning will mislead you.

Feelings can be a useful source of information, but not everything you feel is real. Just because something scares you does not mean it is dangerous. Feeling embarrassed about something you did doesn’t mean everyone else noticed and is judging you. Question whether your feelings are providing you accurate information, or are you assuming that because you feel something that makes it accurate?

Trying to live by a long list of absolute rules is unhelpful.

Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do and beating yourself up if you break any of the rules is a very unhelpful way of thinking. “I should never have said anything to her. I’m such an idiot.” Trying to live by an arbitrary list of “should’s” and “musts” can result in a lot of emotional problems.

Negative self-labeling is unhelpful.

If you make a mistake or your performance is less than you would like it to be, don’t call yourself stupid or clumsy. Telling yourself, you’re a failure, creates failure.

Trying to control things that are not in your control is unhelpful.

If you’re one of those people, who believes that everything that goes wrong is your fault, you have developed a very unhelpful way of thinking. Don’t try to control or protect other people by anticipating what could go wrong in their lives. You can plan, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your planning and worrying will somehow make everything come out the way you want it to.

What should you do if your life is full of unhelpful thoughts?

If you find that you fall into frequent use of these unhelpful thoughts, begin to challenge those anxiety-producing thoughts. Ask yourself what the evidence is that this thought is true. Get a second opinion from a friend. You may find self-help books based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, especially helpful. Consider working with the counselor or therapist. A good coach can help improve an athlete’s performance, and a good counselor can help you overcome the problem of frequent unhelpful thoughts.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Contribution.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Contribution.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”

― Robert F. Kennedy

“You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others….”

― Gordon B. Hinckley

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can prove useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Don’t you ever sleep?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Man sleeping

Sleeping person.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Don’t you ever sleep?

I thought I should answer this question since 2 people have asked me this recently. The answer is yes, I do sleep. Typically, I sleep 8 or so hours a night. Sometimes I sleep 9 hours a night if I am feeling particularly ambitious.

I think the reason people ask me this is because I teach classes in the evening and then my students discover a video posted to the counselorssoapbox YouTube channel at 1 AM, followed by the counselorssoapbox.com blog post which appears at 2 AM.

No people, I do not stay up till 2 AM to get all this done. As much possible, I try to write these posts and produce these videos, weeks or even months in advance. Both WordPress and YouTube have a wonderful feature that allows me to upload material and schedule it to appear at a future date.

When I first started the blog, I had to decide when I wanted my posts to appear. I discovered that I had more than a few readers in the United Kingdom and even Europe. It made sense to me schedule my posts to appear relatively early in the day so that they would be morning posts across the United States and appear in the UK and Europe before the workday was over. Since then I found I have readers and over 130 countries. Thank you to all of you readers wherever you are on planet Earth. Whatever time you see my post know that I’m going to bed and sleeping through the night by a clock set to Pacific Standard Time here in California.

As of today, I have scheduled posts for the counselorssoapbox blog all the way out through the end of December and videos are scheduled through the end of November. I will continue to write and produce videos as rapidly as possible in the hopes that I can keep the hoppers full so that you can enjoy my musings without interruption.

Many thanks to all of you who were worried about me getting enough sleep. You can rest easy knowing I have not had to sacrifice my sleeping hobby in order to produce blog content or videos.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.