Fear is the Mind Killer

The new Dune is coming out and I’m both excited and worried. With such a huge universe and, dare I say, cult following, the production company can’t afford to screw this up. The trailer I saw looked awesome, so my hopes are up. Then again, my hopes were sky high about the new Mulan, and the reviews are all pretty bad.

I’m crossing my fingers anyway.

That’s not what I wanted to talk about. Today, I wanted to talk a bit about fear as it relates to anxiety and all those other pesky negative emotions. The subject’s been on my mind off and on for a while now. I’ve used the whole “fear is the mind killer” spiel as part of my Writer’s Block class. Fear and anxiety are often a symptom of a larger worry that’s preventing someone from reaching their creative goals, and just like in Dune, you have to face it and let it pass through you.

It’s easier said than done. I know. Boy, how I know.

I got to stare down one such fear this week when I took on a new project. It’s wasn’t that I didn’t have faith that I could do it. With enough time and research I definitely could. The fear that was staring back at me was that it was new and there were too many variables that I didn’t understand yet. I was afraid that even with my best effort I was going to miscalculate and end up wasting a lot of effort creating something that couldn’t be used.

For me, time is precious beyond belief. The only thing more precious than time is the energy to be able to use it well, which is a subject for another day.

This stupid set of fears not only made finishing this assignment that much harder, it totally stressed me out.

Part of me believes that I’m the only one who rides this emotional roller coaster far too often for my own good. This isn’t true, of course. There are hoards of people who constantly push their limits and do amazing things. The difference here is that no one gets to see all the fear and anxiety behind their success. The part of the discussion about the price of taking even the smallest steps forward is often missing and all we see is how easy that success seems

Fun fact: Getting hard things done is, well, hard.

The great thing about facing challenge and finding success is that the next time you have to face a similar challenge, it’s that much easier.

I’m all for easier.

With each stair conquered there are less stairs to climb to reach the top.

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About Walls

This has been the slowest most frustrating summer–ever. Each day feels far too long and yet nothing really gets done. Things that do manage to get done don’t stay done for long. Don’t get me started on how I feel about the laundry or the wicked carnival ride of perpetual feeding and kitchen cleaning. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

When it feels hard to even get the basics done, it puts long scope projects in a particularly difficult category. They are always there, but since they aren’t immediately rewarding to work on it’s just so easy to let days and weeks slide past while other more urgent tasks fill up the space.

This challenge gets even worse when you’ve run up against a mental wall. Something is broken in the project and no progress can be made until it is fixed. Now, not only is the work not rewarding, but it’s downright frustrating. Add that to being stressed out about how to handle all the everything that 2020 is shaping up to be and guess what’s not being worked on even more. Yep, that long scope project.

This is where the time problem sets in. The reason these projects take a long time is that there is a heck ton of work that needs to be done, not all of it consisting of getting the actual words of the story onto the page. Needing two months to do a project and then putting it aside for a week here and there means the deadline is going to smack you straight in the forehead as it whizzes by.

And this is where I’m stuck. I hit a wall with a project I was terribly excited about at the beginning of the summer. The problem? I realized I didn’t know what the story was actually about. Without this critical marker, the prose had started to wander into uncharted territory on its own. I’ve done this mistake before. It means lots of painful rewriting later should it get out of hand. Which in turn takes longer, which means that deadline is going to be even harder to meet.

The good thing about walls is that they are only a barrier if you let them stay. This particular wall isn’t terribly large or even daunting, it’s just there being all wall like and stubborn. I know what needs to be done to fix the story problem and it’s not even all that hard. I’m ready to knock a great big hole in this wall, just as soon as I find the last box of Girl Scout cookies hiding in the bottom of my freezer. And finish the laundry. And perhaps weed the garden.

Gah! Okay. Should the wall still be there by the time I check in next week, send in reinforcements.

And ice cream.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list and get a signup bonus of one of my short stories for free.

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Interview: Nikki Brown

There are people who come into our lives almost by accident and after spending time with them you can’t imagine what life would be without them. That’s what it was like when I first met Nikki Brown. Last year, a friend of mine begged me to join her new online writers group because she enjoyed it and thought I would like it as well.

Dozens of meetings later, I’m still in – and loving it. Nikki heads up the Wednesday Writers Whatchamacallit along with recent guest here at the blog, Annie Oortman. Nikki has a special kind of caring confidence that makes everyone around her at ease. I’ve loved my time getting to know her better and am thrilled to share about her life, inspiration, and thoughts with my friends here at the blog.

A flock of birds flying through clouds resembling pink cotton candy. Super inspiring.
Photo by Kenrick Mills on Unsplash

On to the interview:

Let’s start with a getting to know you question. Tell us three things most people know about you, and two things they don’t.

One thing most people know about me is that I have two young adult children and that I am incredibly proud of them. We homeschooled them from Pre-K through high-school graduation, and they have done extremely well in college. They are also just really cool people who add so much joy to my life. It’s hard to believe how slowly some of those days seemed to pass as a young homeschooling mom and how quickly it all seems to have gone by now.

Another thing many people know is that I am blind. Of course, that isn’t really what people are interested in. All anyone really cares about is that I am usually accompanied by my very handsome and overly friendly guide dog, Perry. I have been a guide dog handler since 2004.

One more thing many people know about me is that I am a personal coach. they don’t always understand what a personal coach is though. they usually think of a sports coach or a fitness coach, and that’s definitely not me. I do a few different things in the coaching world including helping writers find their voice and fuel their creativity. I love helping writers gain more confidence in themselves and put together systems that help make their creative process more effective. My husband and I also do staff development programs for businesses who want to empower their employees.

As for something most people don’t know about me, I suppose that would be that I love to sing. I usually only sing in the shower, but one of these days, I’d love to get up the nerve to sing karaoke in front of an audience—maybe in another state where nobody knows me. 🙂

Another thing most people don’t know is that I have been married to the same man for nearly 29 years. We have been through a lot together and haven’t murdered each other yet. Now, that’s love. Seriously, he has been my biggest supporter and has always done his best to help and encourage me even when I made things difficult for him. I can be a bit ornery at times. There, that’s another thing many people don’t know. People tend to think I’m really sweet. I think they are disarmed by the southern accent. LOL

What are three things that drive you toward your goals?

I’ve always been very self-motivated. I like accomplishing things, scratching things off my list and winning stuff. I’m fairly competitive, but it’s also fine if I don’t win. My main goal is to always learn from every situation and improve myself in some way from each experience.

A good external motivator for me is my family. I definitely want to be a good role model for my kids. That’s a lot harder now since we relate to each other much more as equals rather than as parent/child. They see all my flaws and don’t usually hold back at pointing them out. They aren’t unkind, just honest. I told someone the other day that God gives us children to keep us humble.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

The absolute best bit of advice I ever received was from my grandfather. I had joined a 4-H club as a teenager and was promptly placed on the telephone committee. I think it was a committee of one person. Anyway, I was quite introverted (back then, we just called it shy) and hated the idea of calling people on the phone to remind them of an upcoming meeting. One day, I mentioned this to my grandfather who said incredulously, “Why are you afraid? You’re just as good as they are.” I didn’t really believed it at the time, but that bit of encouragement got me through all those phone calls. It took me decades before I actually began to truly believe those words but they have echoed in my heart and helped me through difficult moments many many times over the years.

Where do you think creativity comes from?

I think most people have limited ideas about what it means to be creative. When you say the word creativity, many people often jump to the conclusion that you are talking about the kind that is expressed as music, art, or performance. I think of creativity as much more than that. It is the ability we have to discover new ways of doing things, overcome problems and connect dots that, on the surface, don’t seem to be related at all. I respect that not everyone has the same views I do, but I firmly believe we were created in the image of God meaning that each of us  was created to be creative in our own right.

Many assume that authors and creatives live glamorized lives.  What is your life as a writer and life coach really like?

As with creativity, I think many people define glamorous in a way that is limited. We are surrounded by beauty and love and amazing opportunities, but do we see them? Are we so caught up in the worry and stress of making it through the day that we fail to notice the truly glamorous moments like a child holding our hand, the amazing colors of the wildflowers lining the highway or the awe-inspiring view of a star-filled night sky?  We compare the dust bunnies we see inside our lives with the meticulously manicured exteriors of other people’s lives and judge ourselves based on that faulty comparison. The truth is, at our core, we are all the same. My life isn’t glamorous at all based on Hollywood ideals, but I wouldn’t trade it with anyone. As Tolkien said, “All that is gold does not glitter.”

What are you working on right now that excites you?

I joined Toastmasters one year ago and I recently participated in their 2019 International Speech competition. I won my Area and Division contests and had the opportunity to compete in the much larger District contest. I did not win there, but the experience was amazing and taught me so much about stepping out of my comfort zone and learning to find the humor in every situation. It has given me an even greater desire to do more public speaking, so I am excited about looking for more opportunities in this area.

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About today’s guest:

Nikki Brown, the Authors ally, is a life coach with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a passion for good stories.

Over the years, Nikki has progressed from reading the encyclopedia for fun to helping clients write website copy and even doing a little ghostwriting. Many years ago, she joined her local writers guild to support her teenage daughter’s love of creative writing and found kindred spirits with others who enjoyed discussing things like sentence structure and  correct comma usage.

For many years, Nikki has helped writers learn how to connect with readers online, but her real calling is coaching writers to help them learn how to find their voice and fuel their creativity. She loves to see her clients break through the roadblocks standing in the way of reaching their goals.

Connect with Nikki:

Want to meet a bunch of writers? Join us at our weekly hangout!

Meet Nikki online weekly at Wednesday Writer’s Whatchamacallit

Wednesday Writers’ Whatchamacallit is a weekly virtual meeting for writers of all genres and all ability levels who like having fun and are looking for an easy way to connect with kindred spirits. Hosted each Wednesday by Professional Coach Nikki Brown and Professional Editor Annie Oortman, meetings are open to writers of all types: fiction and non-fiction, pros and novices alike.

We meet in our online video conferencing room for a mid-week pick-me-up, a dose of encouragement and inspiration, a chance to flex our writing muscles, and an always great discussion mixed with a lot of laughter.

To find the next scheduled meeting, head over to the WWW webpage.

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Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!