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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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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 All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy - What Do You Do to Relax?

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

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy – What Do You Do to Relax?

sk lamont All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy - What Do You Do to Relax?I felt myself turning into to Jack Nicholson from The Shining this week. As a dark cloud of insanity engulfed me, I had visions of Jack sitting behind his typewriter in that huge great room typing “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over again. I knew then it was time to pull the plug.

Staring at my screen in my own Overlook Hotel, getting angrier and angrier, I knew I had to stop.

Working Hard This Year

I’ve been working hard this year, probably harder than I have any year, and just like Jack Torrance who thought it would be great to go to the Overlook Hotel and write his book, as I sat and began my sixth 1st draft manuscript this year, rolling that first sheet of paper into my virtual typewriter, I felt the big black crow of insanity alight on my shoulder.

After a couple of days of typing away on my latest draft, the kids playing in the next room. the Christmas tree was running into its own problems of being erected. I just knew I had to slam on the breaks and do something radical, which wasn’t easy. You see, I’m an all or nothing kinda gal. I’m either all in or all out, I don’t really do the grey area in the middle. It’s hard for me, I loose focus all too easy if don’t commit fully and give it all I’ve got. It has its advantages. If I set my mind to something I can usually make it happen, but it comes at a price, and that is that I shut everything else out of my world till I complete my task. But if I don’t stop and have fun and schedule in play dates for myself, my once fun work can get the better of me and I start becoming dull. And I know with my writing if I don’t take a break in-between projects I end up looking like this:

sk lamont All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy - What Do You Do to Relax?So I pried my gnarled fingers away from my iMac, iPad and iPhone, I had to shut it all off at least for one whole day and sever the cord that kept dragging my back to do the next writing related task.

Writing Related Tasks:

Writing my 2,000 words a day
Editing a manuscript
Reading the next book on writing
SEOing my site
Coming up with the next blog post
Checking social media

As much as I love this stuff normally, I knew I had to take a break and have some fun. I told my husband how I was feeling and he asked me when was the last time I danced? Hmmmm probably over a week ago, I thought. Then thoughts of Christmas loomed over me knowing that I have a lot of work ahead of me in the coming weeks, so that Santa can show up for our five kids! I was starting to crumble under the pressure of it all.

Time to Relax

Not wanting to just swap one task for another, I decided to set up my pottery wheel in the garage that’s been collecting dust for months, and at least set down my writing for four days to give my creative self a different outlet!

sk lamont All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy - What Do You Do to Relax?As I sat behind my potter’s wheel and felt the clay begin to mold beneath my fingers, I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy at first. As I wrangled with that mud, trying to center it, doubt started to creep in around the edges. As I wrestled with the clay in front of me and the idea of getting back to my real work. I kept coming back to it day after day, and eventually I started to sneak glimpses of the peace I was seeking. When the clay finally complied and slipped through my fingers effortlessly, I let out a long low sigh as my wheel began to sing to me. Relaxation seeped in and the pressure began to ease.

I have decided to take my foot of the gas a little, to allow space for my other creative pursuits that feed my soul in different ways. This ultimately can only help my writing, so that I can bring a more playful and creative spirit back to the page. And I definitely know I have to take breaks between drafts. I already had this as one of my writing rules knowing that I need a break between projects, but I broke it anyway, knowing I had one more draft to complete by December 31st. That was a mistake, because instead of lessening the pressure I was feeling, it was only increasing. I still plan to ‘do my best’ and finish my manuscript, trusting that by taking a few days off, I will bring back my old fun-loving playful self and the work will be easier!

My goals for 2016 are going to look a little different, I plan to make sure there is more play and less work!

I would really love to hear from you this week, seriously, I need to! What do you do for fun? How do you change things up? What do you do to kick back and relax? What’s your work / play balance like?

I’d love to know, please share your stories, suggestions and ideas in the comment box below!

Oh and don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of Serafina and the Black Cloak

What Do You Do to Relax?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

 


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sk lamont What are you Grateful for

What are you Grateful for?

What are you Grateful forWhat are you Grateful for?

As I sit here typing on my iPad in the car on our way to the transplant clinic I am overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude. Looking over at our little cherub in his car seat, wearing his little boy shirt, sleeping soundly, I couldn’t be more happy.

This little man has been through so much since he was born and there were points where I thought I may not be allowed to keep him.

He was born healthy and well, weighing in at an impressive 9lbs, everything seemed to go perfectly. He came only eleven days before Christmas and our family overjoyed, had a wonderful time over the holidays, celebrating and enjoying the latest addition to our family.

But as Christmas faded I began to sense that something was wrong, our little bundle of joy had turned yellow and he wasn’t getting any better, on his third week with us, he started bruising. When touched, a bruise would a appear, change his diaper, hold an ankle, another bruise. The bottom fell out of my world, I knew something was terribly wrong and images of little baby coffins started dancing through my mind.

As we What are you Grateful fordrove to the doctors a sense of dread filled me as it choked the air out of my body, I watched the doctor’s face carefully and I did not like what I saw there. The doctor left us alone in the room and I looked at my husband at a complete loss, this was not good.

Five hours later, I mean five minutes, the doctor came back and chased us from her office with a clip board, telling us to drive to the hospital as fast as we could, they were waiting for us there.

When we got there, my tiny little bundle was wrestled from my arms, as he was pinned and pricked trying to retrieve some blood from his tiny veins. This was only the beginning of a long road ahead. My little boy has given blood hundreds of times and now he doesn’t even flinch. Thirteen operations later and two liver transplants, he lays here beside me, snoozing away like a little kitten.

It was an up hill battle and every step of the way he was not expected to make it. It has been the toughest year of my life and believe me, my life had been pretty rough before. But here we are fifteen months after his second transplant and he thrives, he is a joy to behold, I am so grateful and life will never be the same again.

What are you Grateful forThis story barely scratches the surface of the journey we have taken, but only captures the glimmer of joy we are left with.

I remember seeing a bumper sticker once on the way to the hospital…

It resonated so deeply…

“Don’t take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here.”

It is such a bitter sweet emotion to live with, knowing that someone’s child had to die so that yours may live.

But then 30 years ago my little boy would be long gone by now.

So we weep with tears of joy and hold him tight.

I would love to hear what you are grateful for today? Doesn’t matter if it was the cup of coffee that warmed you this morning or a smile from a stranger in the store. Gratitude is gratitude. Please share what your grateful for in the comments box below.

What are you Grateful for?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

 


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Too Much to Do

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift. - Mary Oliver

Forged in the Fire

I love this quote, so I thought I would share it here.

Sometimes the most painful things that can happen to us, refine us into the person we need to be. That being said, it all depends how we take the experience and walk through it and who we become on the other side.

We can burn up and be scarred forever, or we can look at that moment as a gift, as painful as this may seem, from the ashes can grow our greatest stories and a transformed gift we get to give back to the world.

How will your stories be remembered?

If you would like to share in the comments box below, please do!

If you do share please share the treasure you found, if you haven’t found that gift yet, then dig deeper.

Maybe the treasure you find could be someone’s sunshine in their dark winter.

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

 


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Why I Write