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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 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


You might also like:

Fearless Writing – How I Write with Wild Abandon

sk lamont Giveaway Neil Gaiman 3 Book Box Set

Giveaway! Neil Gaiman 3-Book Box Set: Coraline; The Graveyard Book; Fortunately, the Milk

sk lamont Giveaway Neil Gaiman 3 Book Box SetIn this week’s blog post I’m giving away the 3-Book Box Set: Coraline; The Graveyard Book; and Fortunately, the Milk, by author Neil Gaimen. Please note these are the British versions! I like this box set in particular because it is the British version and also because of the fun illustrations by Chris Riddell.

You can enter here or scroll to the bottom.

Bedtime Stories

In the fall last year I decided that it was time to bring back bedtime stories to our family. It’s such a wonderful time for us to connect and be together. It used to be part of our regular bedtime routine but managed to slip through the cracks, the year before last, when our newborn baby became deathly ill. Our baby boy had to go through thirteen surgeries including two liver transplants in 2014–he was not expected to make it–but remarkably he did! You can read a little about his story here.

It was enough to flip our family upside down for the last couple of years, so I was extremely happy when our life began to settle down once more. I loved bedtime stories when I was a kid and I wanted to make sure that all my kids could experience the magic that my older kids had, before life got in the way! So we began with Serafina and the Black Cloak to enrich our new bedtime routine. I even got the chance to interview author Robert Beatty, the article was featured on Writers Digest, you can read it here.

A Bit Spooky

Serafina and the Black Cloak was rather creepy and scary, and I could never of handled a tale like that when I was a kid. But my kids asked me for it repeatedly until they finally wore me down, and they they loved it. So I decided to pick up this lovely Neil Gaimen box set as our next set of bedtime stories even though they have the creepy factor too. There is a wide diversity of reading ages here–I’d say, five through eight for Fortunately, the Milk; Eight through ten (or older) for Coraline, though watch out this one is a bit creepy, especially if you have a sensitive child; and The Graveyard Book, is probably about ten and up, my 15-year-old snatched this one out of my hands and devoured in a matter of hours.

My daughter loved it, and it renewed her interest in reading again. Having spiraled into the world of all things teenager, her love of reading had been put on hold for months, so I was particularly excited that The Graveyard Book inspired her thirst for reading once more.

Here is what my daughter had to say about it:

“It was a really great book! I enjoyed the characters, all the different elements, and how everything tied together. I loved the plot twists and turns throughout the story, and overall it was an exciting ride. I just wish there was more!”

Our family has been enjoying these books immensely and I think they’re fun for adult readers too, Fortunately, the Milk, may be a little on the young side, but it is stuffed full of fun and interesting illustrations.

From the Back Cover of the Book Set:

Giveaway Neil Gaiman 3 Book Box SetAn exclusive box set containing three Neil Gaiman classics, including the Newbery Medal and Carnegie Medal winner The Graveyard Book; Coraline; and Fortunately, the Milk, all illustrated by acclaimed and award-winning artist Chris Riddell.

These editions, containing the British illustrations—which are both hilarious and moving—have never before been published in the United States.

From the back covers of each individual book:

The Graveyard Book

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts.

There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives, and he has already killed Bod’s family.

Coraline

There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, or the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It’s the other house—the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. Forever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back…

Fortunately, the Milk

Mum’s away. Dad’s in charge. There’s no milk. So Dad saves the day by going to buy some. Really, that’s all that happens. Very boring. YAAAAAAAWWWN. There are absolutely definitely none of the following inside: Globby Green Aliens! Intergalactic Police! Pirates! Angry volcano gods demanding human sacrifice! And most definitely NOT a time-traveling hot-air balloon piloted by the brilliant Professor Steg…

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 February 16th, the winner will also be contacted by email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will run till February 15th at midnight (EST).

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!

sk lamont Giveaway Neil Gaiman 3 Book Box Set

Who has been your most memorable character or characters, and why?

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Do You Use All Five Senses — Do Your Characters?

sk lamont Do you use all five senses - Do your characters

Do You Use All Five Senses – Do Your Characters?

sk lamont Do you use all five senses - Do your charactersThis week I’m looking into the idea of fully inhabiting our bodies as a way to deepen the experience readers have with our characters. And, maybe in the process this will allow you to inhabit your body, even more fully. So that you too can appreciate the subtleties of life that you may possibly be missing out on.

There is a lot that can delight our senses if we deepen our awareness.

So first ask yourself a few questions:

Do you live fully in your body?
Do you use the full range of your senses?
Do you experience all of your senses on a regular basis, at a conscious level?
Do your characters?

For some this is easier than it is for others.

Some people are a lot more cerebrally driven, than sensory driven. Which means they tend to be pretty focused and get things done, which is great! But at the same time, this may mean that they miss out on a lot of the little pleasures in life that surround us on a daily basis.

Usually what is required to access all this extra information that our brain has managed to delete as unimportant, is an awakening with ourselves—allowing us to be completely grounded and centered in our body. A lot of people walk around not really connected to their body, or some are but only a little.

Others have a heightened body awareness, they are aware of where their limbs are in time and space the majority of the time, they feel the clothes against their skin and sense changes in the environment easily.

So what you might say—what has this got to do with me? For one, the more grounded in your body you are, the more you will experience the fullness of life. And two, if you are a writer, it’s going to help you get inside your characters skin—to breath life into them fully and see the world through their eyes.

sk lamont Do you use all five senses - Do your characters

Make Your Characters Come Alive

If you inhabit your skin well, then it will be much easier to jump into your characters bodies, and experiences life through their eyes and all of their senses. You will breath life into your scenes when you can step into them fully, clothed in your character skin, and experience the world you have created through their eyes.

Connect to Your Characters Environment

Breath in the air and describe it. Marvel at the nuances—the yellow kettle in the corner puffing steam gently into the room. The brilliant greens in a blade of grass at a significant moment. Also pay attention to pain and when the stakes are high, usually our senses sharpen and come into tight focus. We start to notice things that were insignificant moments before—time slows down and we actually start to see and feel what surrounds us in minute detail.

Switch on Your Senses

But this can apply anytime too, we don’t need a trigger like pain to switch us on—to make us come alive. Anytime we want we can step into this moment and feel, taste, smell, hear and see.

The benefits of characters who feel

When your characters fully notice and engage with their surroundings, your readers will too! Thus deepening your reader’s experience. Taste the air, take a deep breath, smell the sweetness or foulness that lingers there. What do you notice?

A Super Power

Do You Use All Five Senses - Do Your Characters

The way to learn this super power, and yes I consider it a super power—I know I’m weird—is to start noticing your environment on a much deeper level. Sound is a miraculous and underutilized sense. An interesting exercise is to open a window and listen to what you hear outside, do you hear birds singing, cars driving past, kids playing, what else do you hear, listen deeply. The same with music, listen to a complex piece of music that you know well—then listen deeper, depending on the music, you might hear a whole other level or layers of instruments that you never noticed before—then press closer.

Pay attention to your skin, what do you feel? Notice the surface you’re resting against, is it rough or soft? Smooth or hard? Where are you clothes touching you? Where do they squeeze or pinch? Where do they feel comfortable? Pick up a drink, feel the weight of the cup in you hand. Is it warm or cold? Touch the cup to you lips, what do you taste? Breath in. When you’re brushing your teeth, really brush them, consciously notice the bristles against you teeth how does it feel, taste the toothpaste, engage and then go deeper.

Now take your new super power and slip into your character’s skin. What does it feel like to be in their body? How do their senses interpret the world you have created around them? What does he/she feel, see, taste, smell or hear? What’s it like to experience your character in this way?

Do you have a favorite sense?

Does one of your senses dominate over another? Do you tend to experience life visually, audibly, through touch? What about in your writing? Do you tend to focus more fully on one sense? Would developing your character’s other senses give your reader a fuller experience?

What are you thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! Do you inhabit your body? Do your characters? Do you consider yourself pretty well versed in this department, or could you grow? What tips and tricks do you have for living in a body, or for slipping into your character’s bodies?

sk lamont Do you use all five senses - Do your characters

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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Do Your Characters Wear Masks — Do You?

sk lamont These are a few of my favorite things - what are yours

These are a few of my favorite things- what are yours?

These are a few of my favorite things – what are yours?

sk lamont These are a few of my favorite things - what are yoursIn last week’s blog post, I talked about gathering my goals and getting ready for the new year, I also talked about reflecting on my life currently- what could I have done better, what’s not great, how am I missing the mark? I started thinking of ways that I can improve.

This week I am doing the opposite, before finishing up the year and creating a brand new set of goals for next year, I like to put together a list of what is great in my life.

It’s all too easy to see what is wrong with our life- at least I think so anyway. We can easily be dissatisfied thinking we’re missing something, or how we can improve or where did we fail and miss the mark. As we draw towards the end of the year, I do like to put my life under a microscope and seek out areas in which I can improve. But it is also just as important to figure out what is great in my life. I like to slow down for a couple of days, take stock, put on some great music even, close my eyes and think about my life and what I love about it!

What is great about my life?

Here is some questions and exercises that I use to focus on what’s great:

What do I love about my life?
Who are the special people in my life?
Special pets?
What is a particular meal I love, or color, or outfit, (I’m a bit partial to fuzzy socks myself! )
How much I love tea!
What music really inspires me or makes me weep?
What movies have I fallen in love with this year, or old favorites.
Or great stories I’ve read?

What do I love?

I grab a journal and start jotting down all the things I love or have a special affinity for.

Oh you might say I’m grateful for nothing, I love nothing, nothing good is in my life. Well if that is the case, think deeper. You’re able to read this aren’t you, be thankful you can read, and write it down. I’m sure it’s been less than 24 hours since your last meal, if so write it. You probably own a pair of shoes I’m guessing, put that down! If you have to start small, start thinking about what you could be grateful for, maybe eventually your learn to love these things too.

These are a few of my favorite things

So I made my children watch The Sound of Music last Christmas, it was one of the movies I loved growing up, it used to get shown every year in my country around Christmas, so my brain has filed it a Christmas movie, along with all the classic James Bond movies

Anyway, I don’t think anyone was that impressed with my choice of movies! But I do love that song.
Here’s the link if you need some inspiration!

sk lamont These are a few of my favorite things - what are yoursA few of the lyrics as a reminder:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things…

…When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

When I feel bad, out comes the list of memories and they help bring a little sunshine into my day. Then I go and enjoy some of the things on my list.

Here’s a few of mine:

My husband’s bristly beard

The soft touch of my two-year-old boy’s little cheek against mine

My first cup of tea in the morning

Walking in the woods, when the dappled sunlight filters through the leaves

The swirl of the ocean around my ankles, stealing the sand from under my feet

A good storm picking up around me and electrifying the air

Watching the rain rush towards me over the mountains, that moment right before it touches my face

Being cozy in my bed whilst a storm rages around the house

Coal fires crackling and the sound of rain outside the window

Okay so maybe I like storms a lot!

Then I write a list of magic moments

What has been a special moment today, this week, this month, this year.

Close your eyes and think about those special moments now, think about the people in your life, how do they look when they’re happy, when you’re playing around, think about special moments that put a smile on your face. When you just cuddled your pet, or went for a run, or danced this morning with wild abandon, or cozied up on the sofa with a good book.

Here are a few of my magic moments from this week:

This morning my little two-year-old son peeked around the door at me, looking sneaky- like a little pixie, expecting me to chase him, I did and he fell onto the floor giggling as I covered him in kisses.

Last night I enjoyed our wee Jack Russell as she ran around the bed doing turbo time, which basically means she goes crazy, running in circles, flying across the bed and then darts back under, before she attacks once more.

The other night I had fun in the kitchen, playing around and joking with my fifteen-year-old as we made dinner together.

Curling up in bed yesterday morning, with a good cup of coffee in one hand and a good book in the other.

These are a few of my favorite things - what are yoursI’m making a list and I’m checking it twice.

(actually I’m making two lists!)

What do I love?
What are some magic moments from this year?

One list is more general, the other more specific.

I want to make sure that I bring more of what is on my list with me into the new year, after all, these are the things that make my heart go pitter-patter and my spirit soar. Doesn’t have to be big things, in fact I find the smallest of things tickle me and bring me delight, and they are pretty easy to experience on a regular basis.

I like to think of it as soul maintenance, I think we can get all crumbly and dry on the inside if we don’t leave much room for the things that delight us in life.

Oh you might say, but they don’t contribute to my big goal this year or what I’ve decided is important. But the tiniest dose of joy is like rocket fuel and will give your purpose more drive, so don’t rob yourself of the things that make you happy.

After you’ve written your list don’t just file it away, keep it somewhere important, put it in a treasured place and pull it out frequently, when your feeling sad or when you just need to remember what is most in important in your life, when you feel truly alive.

It’s so important to stop and cherish what is great in our life, we’re always moving onto what’s next and sometimes forgetting what is now. If we don’t slow down from time to time to smell the roses, or the sweet fragrance that is already in our life, we might miss it all together. Then it is too late. When all we really do have left is memories, having missed the moment completely, where you can no touch and feel and taste and savor the richness that might be in your life right now.

Even if it’s an amazing cup of coffee or a smile from someone at the grocery store. Enjoy!

What are you grateful for? What are a few of your favorite things? What do you savor, enjoy? Who do you love, who loves you?

sk lamont These are a few of my favorite things - what are yours

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

What’s on you list?

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Gathering my Writing Goals- Getting Ready for the New Year

sk lamont Gathering my Goals - Getting Ready for the New Year

Gathering my Writing Goals– Getting Ready for the New Year

sk lamont Gathering my Writing Goals - Getting Ready for the New Year Gathering my Writing Goals – Getting Ready for the New Year!

Being a former life coach has its advantages, it means I have the tools and strategies at hand to help me plan out my writing life and get it done! This week I’m sharing how I get ready to make the best use of my time in 2016, but gently does it now, the next two weeks are a time of preparation, or as I like to call it Goal Gathering Time.

Over the next two weeks I tune in to my inner life and listen closely.

Questioning my life

I like to ask the following questions:
What do I truly want?
Am I being congruent?
Is this the life I truly want to live?
How would I like to spend my days?
How can I live out my true authentic self?

Just because I’ve set a goal at some point in the past, does not mean it is still in alignment with what I truly desire today. So I like to take this time, to check in with myself and make sure I’m headed in the right direction. It’s easy to get off track and start pursuing something that once fulfilled you and no longer does. Or maybe you come to the realization that thing you thought you wanted no longer fulfills you, but it helped reveal a deeper part of yourself and now you know more of what you desire.

Hone your desire

What do I truly desire now?

When am I most at peace, most relaxed, most excited?
When do I feel truly alive?
Am I living my passion?
How can I bring more of that into my life?
What would it look like, sound like, taste like?

What do I want my life to look like?

I close my eyes and I imagine the perfect day

What would I be doing?
What is most important to me?
Am I spending time on what I say is more important, or do I let other tasks, get in the way?

Then I start gathering ideas and goals over the coming weeks, as I reflect on that vision, of living my life on purpose.

While most people are winding down for the holidays, I like to gather ideas and goals for the new year.

sk lamont Gathering my Writing Goals - Getting Ready for the New YearWhat new things would I like to see in my life or what I would like to maintain? I also reflect on my life currently- what could I have done better, how am I missing the mark? I start thinking of ways that can improve. I begin three lists, I put them in my phone or journal and start adding to them in the coming weeks.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

~ Benjamin Franklin

Between now and Christmas I gently start to collect thoughts and ideas for the new year. What I would like to see, or be, or continue, or bring in new?

 I add these goals and ideas to the following lists:

  • Add new
  • Maintain
  • Improve

My Writing Life

When it comes to my writing life specifically, I ask, what could I add to my life to make me a better writer?

Before getting into this, I would like to add a side note on the life wheel, this is a tool that is used in coaching to create a balanced life. I may in the coming weeks explore this a little deeper in a more holistic way, but for now suffice to say, that if the wheel is not balanced your life will feel ‘out of whack’ in some way or other. So even though I am focusing on writing, it is important to remember that writing may feel like our all, but we can’t make it our all, or in the end our writing will actually suffer, if our life is not more balanced.

It’s important for a writer to get out and live~

The following quote I think, sums up what I’m trying to say beautifully:

“In order to write about life first you must live it.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Gathering my Writing Goals Getting Ready for the New YearThe Writer’s Life Wheel

Big Picture vs Little Picture

Big Picture

Contributes globally to my life, but at the same time enhances my writing, giving me more energy and inspiration to bring to my writing.

Here’s a glimpse of some things on my list:

Get on my pottery wheel and throw pots
Dance
Exercise
Spend more time hugging and playing with my kids.
Research inspirational trips, where do I want to go this year-
– Maine
– Biltmore Estate
– Castles
– Turquoise Oceans

Little Picture

Enhances my writing life directly and obviously.

What do I want to learn?
How to write a series
Deepen characters
Books I want to read

I start collecting like a little squirrel for the bigger work that comes the week after Christmas. This is when I like to plan my next year in full, for now I like to keep this stage of gathering light and have fun with it. I have done this process since I became a coach back in 2000, this will be my 15th year of gathering. I love this time of year, so exciting, so full of promise. In the coming weeks I will be collecting and hiding away ideas, for ‘goal-setting’ week, where I’ll start setting down some hard deadlines.

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 are some of the things you hope to achieve in 2016? How do you hold yourself accountable? What fun ways to do you add another layer of learning into your life? Or what areas do you know you need to improve in? I’d love to know, please share in the comments box below.

What are your goals?

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Confessions of a Pantser – Write 2,000 Words a Day Fast

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?

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SK Lamont interview with Robert Beatty Serafina and the Black Cloak

Giveaway! Win a copy of Serafina and the Black Cloak

In this week’s blog post I’m running a giveaway for a hardcover copy of, Serafina and the Black Cloak!

Robert Beatty Interview on Writer’s Digest

Recently I had the of honor interviewing local author Robert Beatty, the interview was featured on Writer’s Digest, you can read all about it here!

Writer’s Digest interview with best-selling author Robert Beatty.

To celebrate I’m giving away a hardcover copy of his best-selling novel Serafina and the Black Cloak. After the interview was released, I heard from a few folks that they would like to read the book, so I thought it would be great to give a copy away to one lucky reader!  The giveaway will run till December 14th at midnight (EST), so you should receive your prize in time for Christmas! (Click here to enter the giveaway or scroll down the page.) You can read it yourself or give it as a gift. My children and I have enjoyed the novel immensely, though it may be a little frightening for younger readers, you can read the first chapter below.

About Serafina and the Black Cloak:

SK Lamont author interview with Robert Beatty - Serafina and the Black CloakSerafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s vast and oppulent home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion’s hidden doors and secret passageways.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows the clues to follow. A terrifying man in a black cloak stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear, where she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must not only face her darkest enemy, but delve into the strange mystery of her own identity.

Here is the first chapter: Chapter 1 Excerpt

About Robert Beatty:

SK Lamont author interview with Robert BeattyRobert Beatty writes imaginative fiction for middle grade and young adult readers from his home in Asheville, NC.

His novel, Serafina and the Black Cloak (Disney Hyperion, July 2015), is a spooky mystery-thriller about a brave and unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the Biltmore Estate during the late 1890s. It’s an idea that grew from the author’s love of writing stories for his three daughters and from the rich history and beauty of Western North Carolina, particularly the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Biltmore.

A former software entrepreneur, Beatty writes full-time now, but previously was one of the early pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, and the chairman/CTO of Narrative Magazine. In 2007, he was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He’s co-founder of Beatty Robotics, an enterprise with his two oldest school-age daughters that designs and builds custom robots for science centers and museums around the world.

Recently, publisher Disney Hyperion gave the go-ahead for two more Serafina books. Look for Book 2 in the series, Serafina and the Twisted Staff, in August 2016.

To Enter

Use the Rafflecopter widget below! You get an entry for every item you complete in the Rafflecopter widget (up to seven entries! – you can also come back once a day and ‘tweet about the giveaway’, for extra entries!). You also get one if you leave a comment on the Writer’s Digest article, that is relevant to the interview posted. (If you already commented on the Writer’s Digest interview page last week, just hit I entered, and I will take that as an indication that you wish to take part in this give away!) You must have a US postal address to enter. The winner will be announced here December 15th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The giveaway will run till December 14th at midnight (EST), so you should receive your prize in time for Christmas!

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 book or books have influenced you the most as a writer or reader?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

 


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sk lamont Fearless Writing

Fearless Writing – How I Write with Wild Abandon

Fearless writing – How I Write with Wild Abandon

sk lamont Fearless Writing - How I Write with Wild AbandonOut of all the people that I’ve talk to about writing their book, finishing their book or even starting their book, the root cause that has slowed them down or even stopped them in their tracks completely, is fear. What will people think? What will my family think, my friends, an agent- fill in the blank.

The thing that stops them is worrying about what other people will think, or perfectionism which is just another form of fear- of not being good enough.

But the good news is, if you’re contemplating your first draft, you are a long way away from showing your work to another soul. But there are some important factors to consider, if you want to write fearless. The main thing to take into consideration is that this is your story, your property, and as such you need to protect it. Think of it as a tiny little sapling just starting to push its way out of the ground, at this stage in the game, you have three roles, protection, space to grow and sunlight.

1) Protection

Don’t talk about your Book

I am a firm believer in never talking about my work-in-progress, I keep it hidden away, JK Rowling has a great quote that I believe in 100%.

“I find that discussing an idea out loud is often the way to kill it stone dead.”

~ J.K. Rowling

I have seen this so many times, where people talk about their work, share it with others and in the process squeeze the life out of it!

You’re not supposed to talk ‘about it’, you’re supposed to ‘write it’! By sharing it too early you’re allowing others to steal your books power and energy, and your passion to write it. It dissipates all the energy surrounding it. Give it only one outlet through your fingers. You want it bursting forth birthing on the page. Not giving it out to the world whilst it’s not even a newborn, so that people can prod and poke. “Eww, I don’t like its eyes, it’s legs are too short, I think it’d look better with blonde hair.” What are you doing? STOP, this is your precious little baby, its fragile and needs to be protected. Wait until it becomes strong, when you ‘know’ your story, then you can open the door to respectful criticism, until then don’t let anyone else steel your baby and run with it.

2) Space to grow

The secret place

This is also your time to get to know your little sacred baby, to coddle and coax it into existence. You’re dealing with something ethereal here, gossamer like an angels wing, so hold it delicately. Don’t show it to anyone until you know what that thing in you cupped protective hands is. There will come a day when it’s ready to fly out into the world and defend itself, until then you get to decide.

Here is the key to writing fearless, to writing with wild abandon. You write the truth that is whispered in your ear and nothing but the truth. You leave nothing off the page. You do not judge it, that comes after, right now this is a safe place. A place to pour blood, guts, sweat and tears onto the page. Hold back nothing, let everything out, knowing that this secret is safe with you. You are the gatekeeper of your work, when it comes time to review your work you decide what stays and what goes. But remember, if you are in your first draft, you’re a million miles away from showing your work, if you’re protecting it. So kick back, enjoy the journey and dive in, there is nothing more exciting than the thrill of letting it all out, there will come a time later when you judge, but now is not that time.

3) Let it see the light of day

Ship it!

Finally, and don’t let this scare you, but there will come a day when you have to decide if you want this work to enter the world. If and when you decide it’s time, then and only then, you must share your work. The No. 1 success factor is shipping, in other words getting it out the door, even if it’s imperfect. The chances of being published are a million times higher than the person with the near perfect manuscript sitting in their drawer, tweaking it to death, afraid to ever let it see the light of day.

sk lamont Fearless Writing - How I Write with Wild AbandonSo cherish your work whilst it’s all yours in the secret place, decide if you want it to leave the nest, then you can sit back and see if your baby can fly.

Until that day relax, you’re not there yet.

Enjoy this special secret time, one day it will be gone.

 

What are your thoughts? These thoughts, skills and techniques are my own, they are what work for me. So if you have strategies that work great for you, then awesome! Why don’t you share them in the comments box below, along with any other ideas or suggestions, or anything else you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

What are your thoughts?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

 


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sk lamont writing in the storm

Writing in the Storm – How I get my Story Moving Again

Writing in the StormI love writing in the storm, only being able to see a few feet in front of me at a time, as the story takes shape behind the veil, capturing it as quickly as I can type, as it comes to me through the clouds.

This is the way I like to write, I have tried planning my stories out, but it just does not work for me.

Nothing thrills me more than setting off into the wilderness grasping an idea in one hand and a hope and a prayer in the other. I can consistently kick out two thousand words, six days a week, with little to no problems. I like to give my imagination a rest day, at the end of the week, after an intense week of writing.

It is an exciting thrill ride, where given the right conditions, showing up consistently, on time everyday, it pays off.

“Inspiration exists, but has to find you working” ~ Pablo Picasso

But it is not a path for the faint of heart, many perils lie along the way, self doubt, the ridicule of others, crazy ideas that make no sense. But I believe if I show up consistently my ideas will come and they usually do, as the story reveals itself to me.

Sometimes as the self-doubt starts gnawing on my creative edge, usually around the 10k-20k mark, where I think, where is this story going, why am I writing it? I take an hour or two or just even twenty minutes to throw a quick premise down. To quell that inner doubter. I do it in the evening to separate it from my regular writing times. But it helps crystallize things in my own head, so that I can get moving again.

Here is my formula:

First I ask myself five fast questions –

  • What is this story about?
  • What does my protagonist want?
  • What do I want to resonate with my readers?
  • What’s the point of this story?
  • Do I care about this story, what lies at it’s heart?

I grab a note pad and pen and go as fast as I can, I brainstorm the answers.

This is not a linear list, it’s just to get my brain thinking about my story, from a global view, like pantsing my draft, I pants my premise too. Knowing that thinking too much, at least for me, might scare the magic away, so I hold it loosely.

Then for about 10-20 minutes I try to nail my story to the page, in one or two sentences.

Here’s a formula for building a logline-
* a logline was once used in the movie industry to sell a movie to a studio, it is a great way to condense and crystallize your story.

It’s the one or two sentence summary of your story that not only conveys your premise, but also gives the reader emotional insight into the story as a whole.

Here’s an example from Star Wars:

Restless farm boy (situation) Luke Skywalker (protagonist) wants nothing more than to leave home and become a starfighter pilot, so he can live up to his mysterious father (objective). But when his aunt and uncle are murdered (disaster) after purchasing renegade droids, Luke must free the droids’ beautiful owner and discover a way to stop (conflict) the evil Empire (opponent) and its apocalyptic Death Star.

I take the example above and slot my story in, moving around the elements that I need to. Once my logline is nailed down, this becomes my guiding star that helps direct my story. Now I said helps, because if a better idea decides to show up with something unexpected that I love, I stay flexible to new possibilities. The truth is, for me at least, the bones of the story are already there, I’m just clearing off the dirt so I can see the shape better.

Then I file away my premise, as I hand it over to my unconscious mind to continue solidifying what my story is about.

Writing in the StormThis is like throwing creative rocket fuel on my story and away we go again. Normally I don’t hit too many bumps in the road, usually only once or twice, once near the start and occasionally once near the end. I’ll share my tips and strategies on how I get past the final bump in a couple of weeks, as I approach the finish line on my current work.

Finally I put my head down once more to write, the path way opens before me and I see the sunshine peeking through the trees, whispering softly, let us go, your adventure lies this way.

These thoughts, skills and techniques are my own, they are what work for me. So if you have strategies that work great for you, then awesome! Why don’t you share them in the comments box below, along with any other ideas or suggestions, or anything else you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

What works for you?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

 


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Confessions of a Pantser – Write 2,000 Words a Day Fast