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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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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


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sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated Effort

Focus – The Power of Concentrated Effort

sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated EffortSometimes I just want to get stuff done. Like those edits that have been lingering for far too long or that book I just want to get finished. So I get my head down and don’t lift it till the task is complete.

I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to, but it does require that I give it my all,* in effort and focus for a certain period of time.

*meaning it occupies the bulk of my thinking and gets the lions share of my time.

When you focus on what you want, everything else falls away.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in having great habits in place and chipping away everyday to make that goal happen.

Sometimes I need push

But, sometimes things get under my skin and drive me crazy, and, I feel like I don’t have the energetic effort required or the moxie to keep chipping away at it. In fact the chipping away is robbing me of joy everyday because the task at hand seems insurmountable. Like I’m going to be working on it FOREVER! That I’m NEVER going to finish.

I know from experience that if I let this feeling of hopelessness continue for too long, then I might end up loosing the project that I had so much passion for in the beginning.

When I get to this place, when I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall, and getting nowhere fast, I do the one thing that always seems to work for me …

I attack!

When I reach threshold I tell myself: I’m not dinging around with this anymore. It’s time to get it done.

Then I dive in.

Doesn’t matter what it is. As long as it’s something I absolutely want to achieve. And, it’s a must. And, it’s important.

But, if I’m not making progress, and I don’t see an end in sight…

Then I take the project and make it the number one priority in my life till it’s done.

I shoot it straight to the top of my list.

I make room for it in my life, I set a timeline, and I make a plan…

You can get a lot done when you decide you’re finished playing around.

sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated EffortThe important thing is to take your goal, break it up into manageable chunks, and schedule them in everyday. Then work like a dog till you complete your project. You may enjoy the process or you may not, it’s irrelevant. As long as you’re still connected to your initial vision you had for the project and your still committed, then you walk through fire till you get it done.

Now that imagery may seem a bit strong, but honestly sometimes you just have to commit all the way and do the work. Especially on long projects like writing a book, it’s a lot of work that has you invested for months to years.

What if a project has stalled out?

If a project has stalled out then maybe it’s time to get reconnected to that initial vision you once had:

  • What made you excited about it in the first place?
  • When you complete it what doors does it open up for you?
  • How will you feel when you know you didn’t take the easy path?
  • Just imagine how good you’ll feel with the end in sight, and when you finally cross that finish line!

So set a hard dead for yourself and get it done.

So why am I writing this blog post?

Focus - The Power of Concentrated EffortBecause, I set this task for myself this past Monday to complete all edits on my current manuscript, and to get it out the door to my editor by the end of the month. I have been working my butt of this week. My body hurts. I have assigned household tasks to other members of the family. Pizza has featured largely in this week’s dinner menu. But it doesn’t matter, I’m committed and determined that I will reach that finish line even if it kills me.

Yes, maybe a little extreme but it means I get the thing I want to get done–done!

“You can move mountains when you set your heart and mind to it!”

I take the week, stop all the tasks that are not a priority, like cleaning the house, watching movies, going out to dinner. I pull the plug on all of it, get my head down, and work my butt off till the task’s complete. It’s surprising how much you can get done when you decide too!

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! Have you ever used concentrated effort to get a task done and been surprised by the results? Or, do you fail miserably in this department and seem to never complete your project, loosing hope with the lack of forward momentum? What measures have you gone to, to complete a task?

sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated Effort

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!

Have you ever just went for it?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


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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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