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sk lamont Reward Yourself Along the Way Stepping Stones to Your Goals

Reward Yourself Along the Way: Stepping Stones to Your Goals

sk lamont Reward Yourself Along the Way Stepping Stones to Your GoalsThis week’s post is a simple yet effective strategy that I have found extremely beneficial for getting my edits out the door. The last couple of weeks have been a tough road, and there’s nothing I hate worse than doing lots of hard work with no fun involved.

At the end of my first week I really wanted to throw in the towel, walk away, and do something fun like; watch a movie, play a game, have a glass of wine, read. Anything to get away from the task at hand!

The first week went really well, but coming into the second week when the task was taking longer than I expected, I could feel myself starting to flag.

Create stepping stones to support yourself on the way to your goal.

A Simple Strategy

Keeping momentum up for a week when I was really cranking was relatively easy, but the second week I began to slow right down. This simple strategy really helped me out, and I think it’s an important one to talk about, for those of us who are struggling to get to the finish line.

Delayed Gratification Goals

What I discovered, that worked well for me, over the last couple of weeks was delayed gratification; also known as—rewarding yourself for working your butt off, not now, but later. I started working in two or three hour chunks, and put a nice reward in place that I got to indulge in after I put my time in.

It didn’t have to be expensive or elaborate:

  • Like a new book on my kindle.
  • A new app for my phone.
  • A delicious desert.
  • A craft item that I’ve been after for a while.
  • At the end of the night a glass of wine to enjoy—don’t do this one in the morning, or it’ll really mess your day up!

Whatever floats your boat!

The Carrot and the Stick Method

My new reward system worked great when I stared implementing it half way through my mountainous journey. It gave me a new lease of life and made me excited about getting to my reward.

The reward only had to meet two criteria:
1) It was cheap and easy to make happen.
2) That I really really wanted it.

I also find having a bigger final goal reward in place for when you complete the entire piece, like going out to dinner, is a nice incentive, too.

Grand Finale Goal

Having a grand finale goal is always a great idea for when you complete a large project.

Reward Yourself Along the Way Stepping Stones to Your GoalsLike smoking a cigar and downing a bottle of champagne! All joking aside; I have heard of writers that celebrate when they complete a novel, by doing something unique that they always do when they reach their goal.

The Finish Line

I am proud to announce that I am finished at least with this part of the journey. So time to smoke my cigar and have some R&R, before the next leg of the journey begins, who knows what surprises lie ahead!

What are you thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! What strategies have you used to get yourself to complete tasks? What do you do to hold yourself accountable? Or, have you found yourself walking away because the task at hand was too difficult? What is your special way to celebrate when you achieve your goals?

sk lamont Reward Yourself Along the Way Stepping Stones to Your Goals

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Oh, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway for an excellent writing resource: A Copy of Story Trumps Structure by Steven James

How do you stay on track?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


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Is Your Emotional State Wrecking Your Goals?

sk lamont Do You Write Organically Story Trumps Structure Giveaway

Do You Write Organically? Story Trumps Structure – Giveaway!

sk lamont Do You Write Organically Story Trumps Structure Giveaway

Do you write organically or do you plot out your novels? I don’t think there is only one way to write. Different writers choose different paths, and the main question to ask is, what works best for you?

We must each find our own path.

I really wanted to be a plotter. I mean really. I bought books and their accompanying workbooks. Downloaded seminars, audio books, and software for my computer. Then tried to get my ideas to behave themselves, and allow me to organize them into the nice tidy outline had planned for them.

Did it work?

In one word … No!

Not for me, which, to be honest was a bit surprising, I can be a scatter brain, but I also like to follow rules a lot. Especially formulaic rules. I like a nice tidy path to follow, with step-by-step instructions, to make sure I’m getting it right.

A side note on rule breaking – I’m also a bit of a rebel. I like to break the rules too, especially if they’re authoritative, and I love to follow my own path. But, the security of a rule book is a nice addition, so that I don’t get lost.

Breaking The Rules

I’m also a bit OCD: I like to line up my pens, coordinate my sticky notes, and color code everything. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that outlining was not the vehicle for me–at all!

No matter how hard I tried to force my wild and crazy ideas into the box of outlining, the more they refused to communicate. In fact my imaginative ideas dried up completely, and sat in the corner like a glowered faced five-year-old with arms folded refusing to communicate.

Reading Books on Writing

Reading books on writing is very important aspect of improving our craft. We should be like sponges, and devourers of information to become masters of our trade. But, book after book I read kept talking about outlining and all its merits, and referred to pantsing as if it were some dirty little secret. Pantsing, if you don’t know, is the idea of writing without an outline, also known as flying by the seat of your pants.

Set Your Imagination Free

Do You Write Organically Story Trumps Structure GiveawayAs much as I didn’t want to be a pantser, I thought I would give it a whirl–never say never, right? And, I was surprised by the results! I was truly astonished as my imagination was set alight. My little storytelling five-year-old loved it, she wouldn’t shut up. It was all I could do to keep up with her, as story after story poured out of me and onto the paper.

I believe it’s worth giving your imagination the freedom to fly. You jump off the cliff and see what happens.

No matter what kind of writer you are, you should fill yourself up to the brim with great resources. Have a thirst for knowledge. Even if you’re a pantser you should still know how to outline–at least in theory. You gotta know the rules so that you can break them, well. Read books on how to write, listen to audio books, go to seminars, drink it all in.

Fire Up Your Imagination

If you are a storyteller then read great stories that inspire you. Read what you love. Watch copious amounts of movies. If you watch movies then you already know how story works, it’s innate–it’s in you!

I read a great book at the beginning of last year called Story Trumps Structure by Steven James. In his book he talks about a style of writing he calls organic writing. Here are some of his ideas:

I would rather …

  • Write a story than plot one.
  • Tell a story than outline one.
  • Follow the narrative than follow a formula.
  • Pursue a process that allows for surprises.
  • Save time.
  • Live in the joy of discovery rather than fill in the blanks.

I also listened to one of his seminars online, through Writer’s Digest, and I picked out this idea of his:

“Art requires trust – Fear will always drive you back to an outline.” – Steven James

There are lots of arguments for and against writing organically. But, I did enjoy his book immensely, so I thought I would give away a copy to one lucky reader in this week’s post. Please feel free to fill out the rafflecopter below.

To Enter

Use the Rafflecopter widget below!

      • You get an entry for every item you complete in the Rafflecopter widget (up to eight entries!)
      • You can also come back once a day and ‘tweet about the giveaway’ (for extra entries!).
      • You also get two entries, if you leave a comment!
      • If you already follow or friend any of the items listed, please help yourself to free entries in the Rafflecopter! Just click the appropriate checkbox in the widget.
      • You must have a US postal address to enter.
      • The winner will be announced here March 22nd, the winner will also be contacted by email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will run till March 21st at midnight (EST).

What are your thoughts?

I would love to know what you think! What have you found to be your best methods for getting a story down on paper? Are you are plotter or a pantser? Or are you still trying to figure out what works for you? Do you believe we are innate storytellers? Or, do we need someone to show us what story looks like?

sk lamont Do You Write Organically Story Trumps Structure Giveaway

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

What kind of writer are you?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


You might also like:

Fearless Writing – How I Write with Wild Abandon

sk lamont When Distractions are Driving You Crazy

When Distractions are Driving You Crazy!

sk lamont When Distractions are Driving You CrazyAt the beginning of last week I came to realization that my house was a disgusting mess! One of the less exciting side effects of throwing yourself fully into your work as a writer—a messy house—and it was really getting to me. It was getting to the point where my environment was effecting the edits of my current manuscript.

All the mess was making the inside of my head messy.

No, I don’t believe its was a diversion or procrastination. As I’ve said before, I’m all or nothing and I have to take these breaks sometimes to keep myself in balance and stop our family from getting nasty diseases. 🙂 So I downed tools on Wednesday and got to work. Besides, everything was beginning to ache from pouring over my keyboard everyday. I desperately needed a break. So I donned my lovely cleaning outfit, pulled my hair up into a pony tail and got to work scraping the grunge from our life—a nice clean slate as it were…

…Did it work?

Decluttering Magic

I decluttered 15 years ago for the very first time. It was one of the most revolutionary and refreshing things I’ve ever done. I know crazy right, how can putting your house in order make you feel so good? But it did. I laughed manically as I dropped trash bags full of the past from an upper window. My first born, then aged one, giggled and laughed as mommy was having some kind of weird mental, but liberating, breakdown.

You see I was freeing myself from the past—from the grunge of my life. That stuff that had clung to me for decades. I was carrying the past with me and into the future and even allowing it define who I was as a person. At first I was terrified to part with some of it. Feeling that the stuff I had surrounded myself with was somehow part of me and that if I let it go I wouldn’t know who I was anymore. So I clung to it for years creating some kind of pack-rat mentality. It made me think of those little decorator crabs that carry camouflage around on their backs that they pick up from their environment. I felt camouflaged and I didn’t know who I was anymore.  When Distractions are Driving You Crazy

Then one day I snapped. I had had enough. My environment felt oppressive and I felt constricted, imprisoned in a cell of my own making. The weight of all my unfinished projects and college classes that I had tanked at pressed against me reminding me that I sucked. And, that I would probably fail at the next thing I tried. I needed a revolution and a really large dumpster to get a new life.

I needed a really big dumpster

In the space of a couple of days I had eleven trash bags ready to go to the dump. Yes, I only had one child then, if I were to do the same exercise now with five kids I’d probably have one hundred and eleven bags. But for me at that time it was a huge deal. I found out I was hanging onto stuff from when I was ten and it was time to let it go. I started to open up the windows of my house, one by one, as I gave each room a good clean. I admired all the new open spaces. I walked down to the front door and opened it. A wind swept past me and though my house—it felt like the winds of change were sweeping through my life. It was awesome and amazing, and the beginning of a revolutionary journey that turned my life around. It marked a brand new period in my life. Where I redefined myself as a person and decided who I wanted to be without the past clinging to me trying to remind me of who I thought I was. It opened up the space for me to become something new. I highly recommend it.

This time around

Now I’m not where I was then. I’m no longer buried under the past. Every couple of years I have a good purge, I think it’s good for the soul. I’m not even in a place where I need to do a good purge, because I did a decent one last year. But it was just time for a tune up, some tweaking, and some cleaning. Sometimes I just have to get my house in order to feel those free spaces opening up on the inside again so that I can fill them with something new.

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” ~ Marie Kondō

sk lamont When Distractions are Driving You CrazySo for three days this week I did nothing but tidy, scrub, and mop. It was very liberating. I know kind of weird, but I feel refreshed and renewed and ready to take on the world again.

Sometimes you just need to get your house in order.

This week I needed to take the time to clean out the crud so that it would stop creeping in the cracks of my writing and distracting me. But, I had to do it fast, like ripping off a band aid. After all, I have a book to finish, and I’m determined to complete it this week.

 

A side note on items you cherish:

I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō last year, she suggests when decluttering that you hold each item in your hands and ask, does it bring me joy? If your body responds with a yes you keep it! I’m a sentimental person, so I’m surrounded by the things I love. I also love collecting knickknacks, this is not about living in a clinical bubble but about surrounding yourself with the things that bring you pleasure. I thought her method was a great take on this age old method of decluttering so that you don’t throw away any of your beloved treasures.

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! Have you ever had a major declutter and what were the effects? Did you feel a newness in your life, or were there regrets about treasured possessions being lost? What has been your experience when distractions start taking over your brain?

sk lamont When Distractions are Driving You Crazy

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Are distractions driving you crazy?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


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All Work and No Play – What Do You Do to Relax?

sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or Foe

Fear – A Writer’s Friend or Foe?

sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or FoeFear seems to be one of those emotions that we writers have to deal with a lot, or anyone else for that matter. It seems to chase us down anytime we try to step outside of our nice comfortable comfort zone. But I’ve always thought that a comfort zone can one of the most uncomfortable places we can be. When it comes down to it, when we are alone, or the TV is switched off, or there is zero distraction in our life and we sit quietly listening to that inner voice—it whispers something profound to us…

You are more than this, you can do more than this, you have something special to offer

…and it’s a terrifying thought. Because then, we have to look that monster, Fear, in the eye. That somehow we would have to conquer it—we would have to face our fear! And that thought is often too much to bare, it’s easier to hit the button on the remote and slip back into our coma.

Is fear the enemy?

I know this is a strange question and I think most people would say, yes, fear is definitely the enemy. It is the menace that stalks the writer and squeezes out all hope of ever being published. It is the killer of inspiration that crushes the life out of our creative endeavors, and instead leaves us playing small.

Or is it?

Maybe it is right now, but can that negative force be put to good use in the writer’s life?

I have always been a very fearful person. For as long as I can remember fear has stalked my every hope and dream. It has been around the corner, lying in wait, every time I thought I could try something new. Or it has tried to kill the life out of every new connection and communication.

sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or FoeWho knows where my fear came from; fear of not being loved, fear of not being good enough, fear of falling flat on my face. I could go on.

One thing I do know is it has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember. It has traveled with me everywhere I have gone, and in everything I have done.

I spent the majority of my younger life trying to shake it loose; trying to run away from it, overcome it, conquer it, or destroy it. I pinned a badge on My Pinterest Page years ago that says Punch Fear in Face.

But I then realized I was going about it all the wrong way. I was always looking at fear as a problem, a curse, and as something that I had to get away from. Then one day I realized I couldn’t. That fear was my constant traveling companion, it had always been there and always would be, and there was nowhere to hide.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

I read a book back in the 90’s called Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, it stayed with me long after I read it, particularly the 5 tenets about fear. I wrote them on cards and stuck them to my wall, to try and get the principles through my thick skull:

  • The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow!
  • The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and…do it!
  • The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and…do it!
  • Not only are you afraid when facing the unknown, so is everyone else!
  • Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness!

But it still took me another ten years, at least, to get it! I was still fighting, still battling, and still trying to punch fear in the face.

My Friend Fear

Then one day I had an epiphany, fear wasn’t the beast I was trying to make it out to be, it was actually my friend.

I know, shocker. All it was trying to do was keep me safe from the big bad world. Like an over-concerned mother trying to stop her child from swinging too high on the big swing at the playground—never mind that the child gets to experience the exhilaration of flying! It’s better to just be on the ground, to be safe, to be secure, and let’s not let any of that bad stuff happen to you.

Fear - A Writer's Friend or Foe?The problem is bad stuff still happens. Not only in the playground, but crossing the street, or driving in the car. At any moment something bad can happen and it puts the brakes on this whole thing we call living, either temporary or permanently.

So I got to ask myself the question: Do I want to die in the back seat of my car riding to play park strapped into my nice safe seat? Or, did I want get up on the freaking swing and fly as high as I could? —with death being a mild consequence of living and taking that wild ride.

Fears just fear, it’s never going away, I told myself. So I decided to treat it as an awesome friend whom I would listen to very closely and consult on all my endeavors. Anytime I’m about to step out into new territory I listen carefully to that inner voice of fear. My close consultant.

The voice of fear that sounds something like this:

You shouldn’t do that thing: no one will like you.


You shouldn’t do that thing: your going to look like an idiot.


You shouldn’t do that thing: who the hell do you think you are.

I listen very carefully and then I do the exact opposite of what fear tells me to do. See if fear is just trying to protect me, then I know longer see it as a menace.  I now see it as a compass and I use it to guide me to where all the growth is at, where all the fun is at, and where all the best swings in the playground are.

sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or FoeI’m still scared. I might fall flat on my face, but it doesn’t matter. I have to just pick myself up and look for the next big swing. Sometimes, I may take a little time to lick my wounds, but I don’t stay there, I have to get up and look for that next swing—the one that scares me the most—after all what else is there?

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I can either choose to live full out or shrink back and hide in the corner.

I get to choose.

 

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! Do you see fear as a friend or foe? How has it stopped you in the past? What will you do now to change things? What tips and strategies do you have to motivate you to step out and take risks? What do you tell yourself when fear tries to cripple you?

 

sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or Foe

 

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Is fear your enemy?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


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How Fear Can Stop You from Getting What You Want

sk lamont How Fear Can Stop You from Getting What You Want

How Fear Can Stop You from Getting What You Want

sk lamont How Fear Can Stop You from Getting What You WantThis week I’ve noticed that a lot of blogs are chatting about love with Valentine’s Day being just around the corner. I wanted to write about fear this week. I know, not exactly conducive to love, or is it? I was going to write about fear and writing, but fear is fear, so I thought why not write about fear and love? They can go can hand-in-hand, and I’ve definitely had some experience in this department, so why not!

“Love is giving someone the power to destroy you, but trusting them not to.” ~ unknown

The day I nearly never got married

It all started a long time ago when I was still living back home, in Scotland. Well actually, it probably started way further back, when I was forming my beliefs about love when I was little, but we’ll get to that, in a bit. Anyway, I was minding my own business, living my life; productive, happy, single and free. Working on my coaching business, and traveling the world to attend seminars on how to take your life to the next level.

Then I met a man.

It all started innocently enough, you know how it goes; we connected, started chatting, sharing small details about our lives and the things we enjoyed. Then we got closer, and began sharing deeper parts of ourselves and the things close to our hearts. Next thing you know, we’re spending hours together as time started loosing it’s hold on us—hours slipped past like minutes.

We’d meet each other at various conferences around the world and then spend endless hours chatting on the phone when we were apart. Everything was going great, then my future husband dropped the bomb—he mentioned the M word aka marriage—and that was me running scared and literally running for my life.

He’d call—I wouldn’t pick up—there was no way I was going to marry this man. Yes I enjoyed his company, yes I may even be in love with him, but that didn’t meant I should settle for something as totally and completely final as marriage.

A Fear of Commitment

sk lamont How Fear Can Stop You from Getting What You WantThey say men are afraid of commitment, but I was definitely a card-carrying fully-fledged member of the group, and I didn’t want some man clipping my wings.

So I did the best thing I knew how—I hid—for ten days. I know very grown up and mature of me, but it was the best thing that my inner quivering ten-year-old fear-filled kid could come up with at the time.

You see from an early age I was brainwashed that marriage equaled death. Being a product of the seventies and eighties, and watching most of my friends’ moms and dads splitting up and finally getting divorces—including my own parents. And, growing up in Scotland probably didn’t help either, as those around me considered marriage a relic of the 50’s, and as something that would probably be better off being left there.

Without going into it too much, I had an old record that went around and around in my head, that played louder and louder when any man got near that seemed even a little interested. The old record played; you don’t need a man, you can’t trust men, you never want to get married. And round and round it went.

Ten Days Later

I was still hiding; avoiding the phone calls, not replying to emails, and generally falling off the face of the planet. On day ten, I got an email from my future hubby, it had ten songs attached, with the instructions that I should listen to them. Having my interested piqued, I listened to the songs, and they started to melt the ice around my heart. I’m a very emotional being and music can do things for me that words never could. I thought, a man that can love these songs, is a man worth getting to know better—we started to talk again.

We chatted everyday on the phone for hours, this went on for several months, though we never really talked about the M word again.

My Date with Destiny

I was scheduled to go to a conference in the Bahamas, the long away awaited—Date with Destiny—even the name gave me goosebumps! Upon booking my air tickets, my future hubby told me he had managed to secure himself a ticket for the event. It had been sold out for months, but he had pulled some strings, so he would be joining me.

How Fear Can Stop You from Getting What You WantI arrived in the Nassau, and he met me off the plane. We spent the week together. Our early mornings were spent playing in the huge waves on the sun-soaked beach. And, our intense days and nights were spent at the conference, helping ourselves and others have massive breakthroughs.

Everything was going great, or so I thought, until the last day. We got up nice and early, which had become our custom for the week, so that we could enjoy a few fleeting moments on the beach before it was time for us to head indoors for the rest of the day. As the next day we would be getting up and jumping on separate planes to return to our own respective countries. And we would not be seeing each other again for months.

On our last morning together we walked down to the beach just after sunrise, and ate breakfast—we shared a tropical fruit platter, on a wooden deck in front of the water. It was beautiful. Then we went for a stroll along the beach enjoying this glorious morning before returning home to rain and buses, at least for me. The turquoise waves crashed relentlessly against the sun-bleached shore, the breeze tugged on my hair, as the sun began to warm my skin. I realized in this moment, I had never felt so alive, so wonderful, so free…

I took my toe and started to write in the sand the one word that had always made my feel so vibrant and alive, it represented everything that I loved and aspired to. The word was FREEDOM, and being the queen of exclamation marks, I drew one, putting my toe in the sand to complete my statement. Suddenly, my future hubby dropped to one knee and took my hand…

“Will you Marry me?”

Huh wha?… I don’t even know what I was thinking, I don’t even know if I was thinking … It was more of a physical reaction … I ran … Yes totally and completely, I took my hand back in a split second, and was tearing off down the beach. Sand under my feet, wind in my hair, running away as fast as I could from the man who had just asked me to marry him.

My husband said he knelt there for a second not knowing what to do next, then he did the only thing he could think of, he chased me.

Finally he caught up to me and grabbed me by my arms. He looked deep into my eyes. “Well, will you marry me?

sk lamont How Fear Can Stop You from Getting What You WantI kid you not … I looked over at the freedom I had written on the beach, and a huge wave obliterated it!

I looked back at him and said in a quiet voice. “But my freedom, it’s washed away.”

He looked at me, and touched the center of my chest with his finger tips.

“Honey, your freedoms not out there, it’s in here.”
 Then he repeated his question.
“So, will you marry me?”

Not one for making life easy, I replied, “I’ll tell you later, by the end of today.”

I had a lot of thinking to do. So we left the beach and got ready to step into the last day of the conference—relationship day, of course!

At these conferences you don’t sit to together. If you came with someone, you’re split up into different groups, so you can take part without feeling like you have to act a certain way around a spouse, a sister, or whomever you chose to come with.

My future hubby was sitting near the front, and I was sitting near the back. One of the exercises was to write down everything you wanted in your mate and write a letter to them. All these exercises I had done before having been around the block a few times in the world of coaching.

I knew the man I had found was the perfect embodiment of everything I had wished for—and yet—I was still terrified. I went looking for help, I needed some one-on-one coaching to help me process all the crud that kept floating to the surface.

Getting to the Truth

I found a good coaching friend of mine, and hoped that she could help me clarify my want over my fear. The two questions I remembered the most were these.

Q. Why don’t you stop spending time with him for the next six months, let things cool off?
A. Arrrgh no, that’s not an option I have to see him.

Okay, then she asked:

Q. What was the first answer that you felt in your body before all your BS (Belief Systems) started showing up?
A. Yes, I said to her. Every cell in my body screamed yes, but then my thinking mind screamed back no.”

She said, “that’s your true answer. Go to him.”

I walked back down the isle looking for his seat. The conference was beginning to wrap up when I saw him.

He says that he kept turning back to look for me, but my seat was empty. And he thought. Where is she? Is she even here still? Did she go to the airport?

I made my way across the tangle of legs finally arriving at the convenient empty seat beside him. I sat down and he leaned in close to me.

“Well?” He whispered in my ear.

I wrapped my arms around his neck, and whispered back. “Yes, I’ll marry you.”

sk lamont How Fear Can Stop You from Getting What You WantAnd they Lived Happily Ever After

I know this whole thing sounds cheesy and I couldn’t make it up if I tried. But it’s all true. At that moment slow music started to play, and couples got up from their separate seats around the hall and were reunited. We stood up, walked into the isle, and slow danced.

Now I’m not going to say the next few months were very smooth before we finally tied the knot, I did try and run a few more times, but maybe that can be a story for another day.

 

Suffice to say, that fear nearly got in the way, and robbed me of my wonderful husband, and all my completely amazing children.

So the the next time fear tries to stop you, don’t be fooled. Stop. And asked yourself, what is it I really want? Then sit back and listen quietly.

What are you thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! Has fear ever made you do something crazy? Is it standing in the way of your wants and desires? Or, are you living your dream already, and going after the things that you want? What tips and tricks do you have for conquering fear, and overcoming obstacles?

sk lamont How Fear Can Stop You from Getting What You Want

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Oh and don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Neil Gaiman’s 3-Book Box Set: Coraline; The Graveyard Book; Fortunately, the Milk

Is fear holding you back?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


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Fearless Writing – How I Write with Wild Abandon

sk lamont Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do You

Do Your Characters Wear Masks – Do You?

sk lamont Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do YouThis week’s post is about the masks that people wear. Recently, I’ve been diving beneath the hood of my main character in my current work in progress, and asking her some serious questions about who she really is? What lies beneath the surface? In the process of asking her these questions, I found that I’ve been holding a mirror up to myself.

Who am I?

I think as writers it is really important to know who we are. Interesting people and characters have layers, but sometimes all of that hides beneath the surface. So this week I’m going to look at what goes on behind the mask.

Do you ever feel like you’re wearing a mask?

Like you can’t be your true self, because of fear. Fear of ridicule, fear of attack, or fear of rejection? This is an idea I have been toying with for a few weeks– actually for years. I have written about it before, but recently the idea resurfaced. Playing with my characters in my stories, has been an eye-opening experience, and one that I find very interesting. Sometimes when characters appear in my books they present a certain persona to the world, a mask if you will, but there is usually a whole lot more going on beneath the surface.

I see these two aspects going on, hand in hand, as I write my books. I think about it when I walk down the street. Past strangers at the mall, or on the sidewalk. Often times, I try to read the stories on their face. What kind of lives do they live? What mask do they wear for their children, their boss, their mother?

I wonder if any of us walk around without a mask; in every situation, circumstance or the company we keep? Or does everyone distort who they are, even a little, for the recipient?

In asking myself this question I think it’s easy to say, ‘yes, I wear a mask’. Or sometimes I do, with certain people, or in certain situations. I think it’s easy to recognize the mask or even feel the weight of it on my face.

Questions I’ve been Pondering:

Who am I?
Who am I really?
Do I know?
Am I hiding?
If so, what am I hiding?

Knowing Yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. ~ Aristotle

Like I said I have been playing a lot with this idea lately. It’s something my brain loves to do. Ask a question or make a statement, then attack it from all angles. So that I can dig down into the heart and meat of the idea.

Why Hide?

What could be a reason why I would not reveal myself completely?

Maybe because I have been hurt in the past, a long time ago, and I don’t want to reveal myself, so that I can protect myself.

But, I’ve also discovered something else in my search. People often create inner masks, or shells. It’s like a double-layered mask, created out of self-protection. I know it sounds strange, but this second mask, that I would reveal to others wasn’t the real me either. It would reveal itself if someone got too close to me. Except this mask wasn’t very pretty at all. In fact it was rather scary. You see I created a mask made out of anger, which served as gatekeeper to my true self; my vulnerable self, my soft center.

Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do You

The hard exterior shell would steal my joy, but keep me safe. But, it would prevent me from ever being my true self. At least with anyone else.

To really reveal ourselves, we must know ourselves– do you know who you are?

Do You Wear an Angry Mask?

As a coach, I have heard people say, ‘people need to accept me, and see me for who I really am’. Which really translates into, ‘you have to love me at my worst, then maybe, just maybe I’ll let you in’.

But I would question, if who you really think you are– is really you? Or is it maybe all the hurt, anger, depression and rage that you hide behind a mask, that you let people either glimpse a little or a lot.

Is really what hides behind the mask just another hard shell, that actually hides your soft center? The part of you that is so soft, so gentle, so vulnerable and has been damaged so badly a long time ago that it will never see the light of day again– ever!

Is the dark shell the part of you that you are asking others to accept?– “Here’s me warts and all, accept me, hate me, or leave me.”

Sometimes I think it’s easier to reveal a crappy part of ourselves that evolved from dysfunction and rejection, rather than the gentle and soft loving part.

Maybe you wear a different kind of mask?

sk lamont Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do You

Do You Wear a Happy Mask?

Or maybe you have swung the other way. Do your wear a mask of feigned niceness, when really you’re depressed inside or sad? Are you a people pleaser?

Do you try to maintain the status quo, try not to rock the boat, so that no one ever gets to see a genuine emotion or voice come from you?

What would happen if you revealed that soft part, that real part, that loving part? What would happen if you revealed your true self- your inner softness, that part of you that is intimate and vulnerable?

Dropping the Mask- who are you really?

Is it okay to let people see the real you?

Oh don’t get me wrong, anger has its place, anger has power. Anger kept you safe at a time when you weren’t. But, are you still offering others something that no longer serves you? No longer, really protects you? Are you pushing the people you love away, the ones that deserve the real you, your soft innards?

Or, what would happen if you dropped the, ‘I’m okay’ mask, maybe you’re not, maybe it’s okay to ask for help. To reach out to someone else, and show them the real you.

What’s the worse that could happen anyway, you’re a grown up now– remember! You have the power to make decisions and choices, maybe anger doesn’t need to be involved at all. Or nonchalance, or superiority, or whatever coping mechanism you’ve come up with in the past to protect yourself. Maybe, you can just be you, and when you need to, you can just walk away!

Will the real me please stand up!

Write it down–

What’s the worse that could happen, if I showed my true self to another?

Now write down–

What’s the best that could happen, if I opened up to someone else?

Wait I’m not asking you too, I’m just asking what if?

What if you trusted?
What if you tried?

Who are you?
Who are you really?
Do you know?

Have you accepted yourself? Loved yourself? Could there be a part of you that you deem unworthy? Because it’s too nice? Too soft? Too weak? Too bad?

Just asking?

I’m experimenting this month with renewal. Or maybe even rediscovery. Playing and having some fun with it –nothing too scary– as I prod and poke at my soft center, and give my characters a friendly poke too!

Are you free already?

What are your thoughts? Who are you? Do you think there is any truth to this, what has been your experience? Are you free already, and if so how did you get there? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave your comments in the comment box below.

sk lamont Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do You

 

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Who are you?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


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sk lamont Goals and Planning - When Things Go Wrong

Goals and Planning – When Things Go Wrong

sk lamont Goals and Planning - When Things Go Wrong

Okay, so I thought I would just throw this blog post up because of my ridiculously silly, January 1st, start to the new year!

Spending the last month planning my New Year’s Goals, having everything worked out in minute detail- I know I was already asking for it at this point- somebody get a big soft pillow and hit me over the head with it please. And being completely excited about getting going, my morning got of to a great start. My plan was set in motion with only a few small bumps, but generally I was feeling pretty happy with my progress.

When Silliness Strikes:

Sitting down to begin my two hours of slotted work-in-progress edits, I opened up my file to the sound of my daughter shouting from down stairs.

“Mom.”

“What’s up?” I called.

“I think there’s something up with the stove.”

Hmm, putting my computer to sleep I headed downstairs, little did I know at this point that my computer wouldn’t be waking up again till much later that evening.

Walking into the kitchen, my daughter’s two semi-runny unfried eggs stared up at me from the pan with their big sad eyes.

“How long they been in there?”

“20 minutes”

“How about we slide them out of there and we can finish cooking them in the microwave.”

Sliding the gooey mess from the pan and onto a plate, I popped them into the microwave to show off my prowess in the kitchen. I hit the button and watched in horror as the microwave light dimmed like some late 1800’s invention, as the plate slowly turned in the flickering light.

Goals and planning - When things go wrongPulling out the eggs one minute later, it appeared that the eggs may have congealed a little more, but they were definitely not cooking.

Being a determined kind of soul, I put the eggs back in and hit five minutes, staring desperately through the window, I watched them turn, as the lights over head flickered in unison. Being from Scotland I never grew up with an Easy-Bake Oven, but watching that plate turn slowly, I imaged this must be what it’s like hoping that a 40 watt light-bulb will produce beautifully baked delights.

“Go get Dad.”

“Daaaad!”

By this point I pulled out a kitchen chair and watched my intelligent husband play with our new Easy-Bake, as the enormity of the situation hit me, how I was going to have my next cup of tea, I boil a kettle on that stove, I thought. It’s my life blood.

About thirty minutes later, after trying various appliances around the house, and watching the kitchen lights grow dimmer every-time we hit a button, (though the toaster, worked a little too well for some bizarre reason, burning my last piece of rye bread too perfection!), my husband called the power company to discover that the most likely source was a voltage problem.

As we waited for some poor soul to be dragged into work, on his day off as it turned out, to assess the problem. I decided to go back to my computer determined to not let a little thing like loss of power stop me, as I sat down at my desk and hit the keyboard, hopeful since the toaster was apparently still in business, I discovered that my computer was selected as one of the lucky appliances in our house, to get New Year’s day off too, with the rest of the country. Fantastic.

I looked at my perfect writing plan printed out on my desk beside my keyboard and sighed.

So most of January 1st turned into sitting around waiting on a power company crew to turn up on a holiday and dig up our yard, whilst I proceeded to help my little boy build his Legos. Later I lay under the covers in bed reading a book, as it started to get colder and colder in the house, thinking, why didn’t this happen a couple of days ago when it was 70 degrees outside!

Anyway not one to miss an opportunity to learn something, here is what I learned, as far as planning and goal setting goes:

What I learned:

  • I’m not half as smart as I like to think I am.
  • I can easily fall into my old patterns, thinking that they are a great idea!
  • That I don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water and start all over.
  • I have the ability to be flexible, if I bring lightness to the problem.
  • That having fun and building Legos is sometimes just what I need.
  • That leaving room to be spontaneous has its benefits!
  • That sometimes I just need to be reminded that being with my family, is more important than any silly plans I make.
  • To go with the flow and not let bumps in the road ruin everything, and look for opportunities to embrace the day anyway.

I still plan to forge ahead come Monday, but after having my plans messed up today, I took it as a sign to do some quick edits on my 2016 plan.

sk lamont Goals and Planning - When Things Go WrongSo I grabbed that meticulously printed out plan laying beside my dead keyboard and with a few quick strokes and listening carefully to that small still voice inside, I slashed everything before 10am off my list and everything after 8pm and felt the sweet ease of freedom slide in.

I’m an all or nothing kind of gal, but I also realized today that it’s important to have room to breath. So, these are my ‘no rules, do whatever I want to do’ times. I can work if I want, but I’ve giving myself the permission to be flexible.

I can be a bit slow sometimes! This ain’t the first time I’ve banged my head against this particular wall, hopefully this time it’ll stick!

Have you ever found yourself making great plans only to find them dashed against the rocks moments later? Or have you found a way to plan and follow through on your goals, that offers the flexibility to still get things done when your day goes awry. What is your experience with goal setting or planning?

sk lamont Goals and Planning - When Things Go Wrong

Why don’t you share some of your ideas in the comments box below, along with any other suggestions, or anything else you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

How do you plan?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


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