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Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise

 

Hello everyone, Audra here. Thanks for riding along with me on my journey of retirement discoveries. Being newly minted to the role of retiree, I’m finding there are stumbling blocks in my “life of freedom” that I took for granted as I woke each morning to a work-a-day routine. Today’s topic? 

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise


I don’t know about you, but from a very young age, I knew the good Lord had created me to be a couch potato. Yep, when left to my own devices, you’d find me either engrossed in my box of 64 Crayola crayons and a coloring book (this went on through college - don’t laugh!), reading a book (early habit - timeless in entertainment), selecting one of my 12 all-time favorite movies to watch for the 100th time.

Coloring
Pure Julia at Unsplashed

What do they all have in common? They are sedentary activities. Do they give me great joy? Yes. Do they help my body stay tuned and keep my brain alert? Not so much.

You’d think after inhabiting this planet for many, many, many years, I’d know what was good for me and make those choices automatic. 

Ha! Let me repeat that…HA! Everything is up for grabs in retirement!

Here are a few things to consider in order to help your brain and body be the best they can be:

Eat Healthier

By saying “healthier” I mean think about about what goes into your mouth. I’m a grazer by nature, so the 3 squares are nothing to me but the next time it’s socially acceptable to eat. Since I snack pretty much all day, I’m not a big portion eater at meals. That’s a saving grace! So when I think healthier, I try to grab good choices as I make my way through the kitchen. Grapes, rice crackers, popcorn - anything in bite-sized pieces. If packaged, I try to break up the package before I feel the need to eat it, so I can just taste, rather than consume.

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise
Christian Wiediger Unsplashed

Drink Water

Living in Colorado, “drink more water” is a lifestyle motto. We’re very arid along the Front Range and it’s so easy to mistake hunger for thirst. When I’m out and about, I make sure I have my water bottle with me. At home, I take a quart jar and fill it half way with sparkling water (sweetened) and the rest of the the way with water and ice. It sits beside me at the computer, a constant reminder for me to take a sip. If my pantry is stocked with Wild Cherry, Fuji Apple or Mandarin Orange (those are the Walmart brand flavors), I might refill my jar 3 to 4 times a day! 

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise
Laura Chouette Unsplashed


Exercise

It’s embarrassing to admit, but since leaving my office, I’ve lost muscle tone and fluffed up. The County (my employer) was adamant about healthy living and promoted healthy lifestyle choices in the form of workshops and challenges. Get Up And Move email reminders came from our Health representative all the time. You’d think 15 years of encouragement would create a concrete habit!

It did, sort of. My mind knows what I should do, but the desire is weak, LOL! 10K steps a day was easy when I had to run all over the fairgrounds. At home, I depend on my trusty pups to keep me walking. 10K steps a day is easy with them wanting to go on walks all the time.

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise
Shhhh, don't wake them up! I'm not ready for another walk!!

This summer, I participated a bit more with the yard work. My husband was more than happy to put a weed-whacker in my hands, safety glasses on my face and turn me loose in the back yard. There’s an odd sense of accomplishment to look around the yard and realize I’ve just cleared the area of 18”- 24” high kochia weed and can once again find the Corgis when they roam through it. It’s a rewarding feeling to have muscles, other than hand and fingers, hurt.

I started stretching exercises out of necessity. Since I don’t have many interruptions any more, I noticed my muscles getting stiff when I moved away from the computer after sitting there for a couple of hours. Oh, how embarrassing!! Toe-touches and door jamb stretches have become staples throughout the day. There’s also a series of stretches my 89 year old aunt taught me in order to stay limber. 

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise
Timo Volz Unsplashed


Did you catch that? My-89-year-old-aunt-is-giving-me-exercise-advice. Well, she is my favorite, so I listen and obey, LOL.

I know the tips and tricks I just rattled off are probably common place daily routines for most of you. They were in my structured, working world, too. But on my own, I now must take the advice I used to tell my kids: Make good choices.

Stay active. Eat well. Drink often (water)

Retirement does not mean you get to sit back and rust. Being an author does not have to contribute to “secretarial spread.” What works for you? I’d love to hear ideas to break the monotony of my limited routine!!

Now, I’m off to herd the pups around the back field for the third time today. 


Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget


Hi Everyone! Audra here. Thanks for joining me on my journey as I transition from Day Job to Retirement. Today, I thought I’d tackle BUDGET.

I was in Sam’s Club the other day. I love to stop by the warehouse store when I have time and browse through their, at times, surprising inventory. Who would have thought I could plan and purchase a vacation through Sam’s? The thought had never occurred, LOL. But, that’s besides the point.

Today on my wandering, after grabbing the necessary fruits, vegetables and paper towels, I spied a display of tired looking plants over by the freezer section. Hmmm, could be a deal here. When I arrived, I checked out the bedraggled species of plant on sale. 

Pachira aquatica —> Guiana  Chestnut —> affectionately known as the Money Tree

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Tumisu at Pixabay

Huh. Money growing on trees. Is that a fact. 

Well, the leaves on these wealth buckets looked a bit short on cash. And no wonder. They thrive in the swampland of South America. These poor plants looked frayed and curled. They'd been innocently enjoying spa weather in the deeeeeeep south before being uprooted, flown through countless climates, and deposited in a cement floored, air-conditioned warehouse at an altitude of 5300 ft. 

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Frank Wittkowski at Pixabay


Needless to say, they didn’t really inspire confidence in endless bounty, but the reality would have come in handy at this point in time!!

We were a two income family for 16 years. When my husband retired last year, we didn’t really feel the pinch of a reduced income having prepared in advance by reducing our spending. That’s all well and good when you think of the expenses for the household.

But my writing budget was about to take a substantive hit.

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Kevin Phillips on Pixabay

The dream of writing full-time is somewhere in every author’s mind. I had started putting a portion of my paycheck into my “Writing” account when I first began planning for retirement. It wasn’t much, but over the months, my writing nest egg grew to a point where I knew my day-to-day expenses could be covered without dipping into our household fund.

Unfortunately, this was the only proactive positioning of finances I had in place, which means counting pennies and weighing options for any workshop, conference, educational tool, etc. has taken on a whole new meaning for my author journey.

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Deidre Weedon on Pixabay


In my defense, I did retire a year earlier than planned, something else to always keep in the back of your mind. 

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. 

Proverbs 16:9

Do I regret retiring a year early even though I might have been a bit more financially stable if I had waited? Absolutely not! God gave me the opportunity to write full-time (which I’m slowly forming the habit) and lack of apparent finances does not dampen my spirits one bit. I retired to write, write, write - not buy, buy, buy. 

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Gerd Altman from Pixabay


If you’re thinking of retiring from your day job in the next few years, talk to a financial planner in regards to your years ahead, in general. As far as your writing career in concerned, I recommend you keep these costs in mind:

  • Writing supply costs
  • Replacing equipment
  • Educational opportunities
  • Conferences, chapter dues, subscriptions, etc
  • Possible editing, cover art, audio narration, etc
  • Donations

And the list goes on. Start thinking about your expenses now. Look through your check, credit card, Paypal purchases. What writing books and materials have you purchased on Amazon or other online venues? Make that list! Expenses you feel might be nickel and dime right now, might become bones of contention when on a fixed income. 

You’ve waited years to sit down at your writing desk at 8:00 am (or whenever) instead of your day job desk. The dream is about to come true. Plan for it financially now so you can attack your writing projects with a smile on your face.

Until next time, blessings to you!!

Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and a very strong-willed Corgi. She began writing right after her second kidlet was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same young adult graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have a plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at:
Twitter: @audraharders

Retirement, Pt 2 - Focus

 

Retirement, Pt 2 - Focus

Hi All! Audra here. 

Last month I announced to the world that I had retired from my day job. I shared the delightful freedoms and pitfalls I’d discovered which had to do with Time Management. I’d like to share the issue of FOCUS with you this month.

FOCUS is a skill that requires constant care, feeding, and tweaking as you make your way through your journey of life. No matter if you’re answering to an 8 to 5 job, wrangling kids, tending to an aging faction of your life who need you to help them, -- or even on vacation--, you need to have a game plan for your day and stick to it or you’ll find any number of distractions will hijack your good intentions.

Trust me, you are looking at the queen of distraction!

Retirement, Pt 2 - Focus


Well-meaning friends and relatives are convinced I have so much time on my hands now that I'm not working, why not go shopping or try the new place in town for lunch? I get invited to help plan wedding/baby showers. I’m at the top of volunteer lists.

Just one simple lunch date with friends tends to evolve into unplanned grocery shopping, car washes, my car parking itself in the Hobby Lobby lot, etc. You get the picture. By the time I get home, it’s not 1:30 as planned, but 3:30 and now I have to think about planning dinner.

Multiply that “fun” by 5 days a week and all of a sudden I sit down Friday night and look at my to-do list and realize only 2 items out of 14 have been crossed off.

And words added to my Scrivener file are woefully missing.

Self-help blogs, books and advice for productivity are out there by the thousands. I listened to and researched many of them, but soon found only a handful fit my lifestyle and routine. Even fewer came with implementation without breaking my budget.

Last month I mentioned I’m going through our house and sorting, donating, or throwing away clutter. That’s just a side job of what I want to accomplish in this phase of my life. Though lunch with friends and a well stocked kitchen are nice, my GOAL is to return to a routine that carves word count back into my day in order to write and finish books.

#1 - I had to clean up my workspace. I’m fortunate to have a room in our house dedicated as my “office.” Along with the worksurface, books, research materials, etc, my office has also transformed into the catch all of random stuff looking for a home. My goal is for all of it to leave my work area. My focus is on entering an environment that confirms that I’m coming to work each day to write


Retirement, Pt 2 - Focus


#2 - I had to make a schedule. Ha! Making the schedule is easy, it’s staying on task that’s difficult. Silly me, I thought coming off of an 8 hour workday, I’d be able to replace day job work duties with writing time and all the admin things that come with it. After a couple of frustrating weeks of failure, I finally blocked out a couple hours each day and play it all by ear. My focus is treating writing as a priority. Time and persistence pays off. Frustration is lessening and new habits are forming. This is not an overnight solution, but more a long-term lifestyle.

Retirement, Pt 2 - Focus

#3 - I had to develop a mobility routine - translated, it means I have to get up and move. To me, any type of planned movement is exercise: walking the dogs and working around the house are my two standards. But, I found that if I didn’t get up and physically move away from whatever I was doing each hour, my mind wandered and my focus bounced to things that derailed me for much longer than simply getting up, walking around the house or outside for 5 minutes, refilling my water and then back to the task at hand. Get up! Clear your head! Change your scenery for a few minutes. Hyperfocus is not always your friend. Focus on a healthy routine leading to a healthy life.

Retirement, Pt 2 - Focus

Those are the big three suggestions that help keep my mind of track and things are actually getting done. Cutesy slogans and inspirational goal setting memes do nothing for this brain. Persistence to routine and prayer for focus keep me looking at my planner for direction. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 -- those are the words that assure me I'm on the track and I have a job to do.

What works for you? I love success in action. Bring them on and let’s chat!




Retirement, Part 1: Time Management

Retirement, Part 1: Time Management

by Audra Harders

I am retired from my day job.

There, I said it. Actually, I’ve been saying that to everyone who will listen, including the dog, my spring planted deck flowers and, most of all, myself. I no longer need to protect my weekends, count down the days to vacation or scramble to clean the house - among so many other things that competed with my 8:00 - 4:30, M-F, for my time and head space.

When I realized I now had time to blog in Seekerville - rather than just handling a few administrative duties - my stomach dropped as I searched for topics. Composing a post on writing didn’t seem wise when, like the Tin Man of Wizard of Oz, my writing joints and muscles are rusty and in need of a bit of exercise and oiling. Trying to bluff my way through marketing and trends was a foolish idea, as I need to learn them myself before I can pass along secrets. Personal growth and insight? Well, I have a lot, but it centers around the realm of 4-H and everything Extension Office (my life the last 25 years) with very little left over for discovering the aha moments of characterization, theme, or story truth.

So, where does that leave me? 

Square One on the checker board of the next phase of my life. 

Retirement. It’s a concept we work toward our entire career. Think about the stereotypes of playing golf all day, letting that inner social butterfly free to meet friends over coffee or lunch and squeeze into the latest Bunko evenings, or even sitting back with popcorn in a bowl and catching up on all those shows you’ve recorded over the years. 

Me? I’ve been working on cleaning up the clutter of 32 years of family life in our house. Throwing away precious mementos, I can’t even remember why I saved in the first place; dumping out closets and realizing the fashions I’d saved look a bit dated and really, will I ever fit in that again?; digging out my home office, throwing away old how-to-write books and awful manuscript fragments, and creating a room that invites me to write once again. It felt good to de-clutter, but my life remained off-kilter. 

Hmmm, why is that?

Over the next few months, join me on my journey as I discover what to do with that brass ring called retirement and how I return to the author life I had to set aside just as the carpet of success was being rolled out before me.

Whitney Nichols @therandomvibez

I will not get into all that right now. Let’s just say, God’s timing is so perfect all I had to do was obey and His plans for me would all come together and it would be better than I ever imagined.

So, back on track. To truly enjoy retirement, one must realize there are some rules I recommend following. This month, let’s talk about TIME MANAGEMENT. 

  • My first month seemed like a long vacation and I enjoyed it.

I retired from the Extension Office on March 31 and the entire month of April felt like one big vacation. By the end of 4 weeks, the stress had left, and I could tackle the world again. The problem was, my vacation mindset had also suspended little pesky tasks like paying bills, setting appointments, remembering events, etc. I scrambled to catch up on all the things I had overlooked because my routine of checking my calendar at work first thing in the morning on my computer was no longer in place. 

TAKEAWAY: Find a method of accountability that will work for you and keep you on task. Since snipping the strings tethering me to the computer, I wasn’t in a hurry to recreate the Outlook calendar system at home. Instead, I opted for a simple little planner by Moleskin that lets me look at a week at a glance on one page and the opposite page allows me to list my to-dos so they don’t stray far for me to get them to-done.

Retirement, Part 1: Time Management
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

  • My days grew together.

From the time our children were born until my eldest got her driver’s license and I went back to work, I kept a central scheduling system in the kitchen - a calendar chosen at Christmas with large daily squares displayed next to the refrigerator. If an appointment or task wasn’t on that calendar, it would not get done. That habit of looking at the calendar on the wall may have gone dormant once the kids no longer needed parental assistance, but within a day, my brain recaptured the habit of glancing at the calendar to see what was on tap for my day.

TAKEAWAY: Though the refrigerator has changed (twice!) and the wallpaper upgraded with the times, I need a focal point to ground my day. I’m making do with my Weeds of the West freebie calendar, but next year, those daily boxes are going to come in size XL!

  • Sleeping in is great, but…

You’ve heard the term, “when you rest, you rust,” right? Just because no one is essentially calling the shots for you anymore, doesn’t mean you can kick back and ride that banana boat through the canals of life for the next however many years. You need a plan; you need purpose; you need to claim your own sense of accomplishment!! There were 4 of us long-time employees who retired from the Extension office within 10 months. Of the 4, 3 of us had a definite goal in mind as we filled out the paperwork and began looking forward to “punching out” for the last time. My goal was to return to writing while the other two looked forward to “grandmother” duties and unlimited volunteer work. Our 4th compadre, retired without a plan in mind. She has not gotten involved in the community, she hasn’t discovered new (or long buried) hobby talents, she hasn’t explored the possibilities of her new phase in life. She was the first to leave 10 months ago and her outlook on retirement now is so much a burden rather than a joy. 

TAKEAWAY: Don’t let this happen to you! What’s your dream? What’s your heart’s desire? What’s your REWARD for all the hard work you’ve put in over the years? Embrace it now! Mold it, shape it, envision the joy it will give you. Have a plan! Remember how I mentioned the carpet of my dreams snatched away from under my feet just as I experienced the first euphoria of success? Oh, how that hurt! I just knew I was a one-and-done author. Well, God didn’t see it that way. He kept the fire burning in me to write. You see, I didn’t retire to fill my days with house cleaning or volunteering (though both are very honorable endeavors), I retired because stories in me are clamoring to be told. I’ve met untold sources along the way to feed reality into my novels. I’ve made dear friends and visited places that kept the creative flame alive in me. I HAD FUN!

What are your plans? Have you looked ahead to prepare for those dreams tucked within and waiting for the call action that is coming? Please share and let’s make some plans!


Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and a very strong-willed Corgi. She began writing right after her son was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same son graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have her plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at:
Twitter: @audraharders

 


Storyworld Begins Here!

Hi Everyone! Audra here.


The idea for writing my post today on the subject of setting hit me while I was enjoying a nice long weekend writing retreat in the quaint mountain town of Estes Park, Colorado. All the sights, sounds, smells, attractions and quirky little details in my fictional Paterra Springs are inspired by Estes Park. I find working on a new series a bit intimidating. I don't really know my characters well yet, much less the town they call home. Visiting Estes Park - about 45 minutes from my home - grounds me and helps me find the character in the town.


Now, you have to understand, I may write inspirational romance novels, but I also have a day job with our county extension office working with the 4-H program. This alone gives me untold fodder for the setting and characters of my books. But, it's February and February means my team along with the local agricultural community, host over 1,000 fourth graders over a 3 day span and introduce them to agriculture. So, long story short, I've been immersed in embryology. And as I was pulling together material for this post, I realized the parts of setting mesh well with the presentation we will be giving (over and over again) on hatching eggs. 


Please humor me as my day world and the world of my imagination collide :)



Storyworld Begins Here!
Courtesy of Backyardchickencoops.com.au


·         The egg shell houses the entirety of the eggs component within it.


That would be your city limits. Think about how you’d like to portray the area where the events of your novel take place.  Think about how you would describe the town through the eyes of your characters. You don’t need to have all the details nailed down as you begin to write, but key locations should be decided and anchored so your hero doesn’t go to the bank on Main Street in Chapter 2 and then the bank moves to the mall in Chapter 7. I like to sketch out a map. It starts out simple – North, South, East, West – and fills in as I get a feel for the geography.



·         The egg has two membranes protecting against bacterial infection.


Think of this as your “Outer Limits” (remember that show?) or the edge of town. I think of this as the outsider (the bacteria) trying to find a way into the heart of the town, only in applying it to the setting, it’s good bacteria (think of beneficial bacteria found in yogurt). Do you have something going on outside the city limits? I do. The homestead that plays a big part in this 3-book series is on the edge of town since it was a ranch at one time. In the case of book 1, this is the property my heroine inherits. She’s always felt on the outside of life – inheriting this property doesn’t make her feel included in the town, either. She works her way through town (as all beneficial bacteria does) until she finds her heart’s desire.

Also, think about what the characters see when they look out the window. Are they looking out over vast fields? High rises? Coal yards? Water? This general aspect of your setting will establish the atmosphere of your story. Remember, whatever surrounds your central area will play a larger part than just a pretty picture. Your characters will work in it, travel through it, play, hide, etc. It must be a part of their lives; the reader must feel a part of it. It is a character that must be nurtured.



Storyworld Begins Here!



·         The Albumen (or egg white) is loaded with nutrients to help the chick develop.


People are the nutrients of life. Surround your character with friends, family, and yes, even foes. These characters not only help your main character on his or her journey to HEA, but they also make your character grow and keep the wheels of the town turning. What characters do for a living, enriches the town and surrounding environment.

If you have a rancher, give him a ranch to work on and describe his activities. A rancher who simply sits around all day mooning over love gone wrong is boring. Give him equipment to work on, fields to harvest, animals to care for, and all the while, he can be conjuring solutions to his problems in his mind, or with a fellow rancher.

Give your characters activities and hobbies. Are they active in the local church? Do they volunteer with the local 4-H organization? Do they nature hike and sketch? The actions and interests of your characters help establish the tone and atmosphere of your setting.

Let the nutrients of your town do their thing and do it well!



·         The Yolk is the central part of the egg, it’s the little powerhouse where all the important nutrients are stored.


Think local customs, history, legends. Think morals. What is the foundation your town or setting is built on? Who built it? How is it maintained? Charity auctions, fairs, holiday dances and other local events all add dimension to the dynamics of the setting. How about food? Is there a special restaurant that offers unique eats that your characters can’t wait to congregate around? Keep ethnic foods and customs in mind, too. No true setting is simply white bread.



Storyworld Begins Here!



·         Chalazae (pronounced: cha·la·zee) are membranes twisted together that anchor the yolk to keep it from twisting in the egg.

So, you’ve sketched up a town, now, per story, where is the anchor? Where do people go to feel connected? Is it the local school? The church? The above-mentioned eatery with to-die-for daily specials? Think about some of your favorite television shows and take note of where dilemmas are shared; problems solved; accomplishments announced or celebrated. My family watches re-runs of Frazier. Where would the characters go if they couldn’t congregate at the coffee shop?  It’s your town, make the central landing place fun and unique.

There's so much more I could say about setting. Details are only limited by your imagination. Have fun with your town or desert or coast or wherever you plan to entertain your characters and your readers. Setting is just as much a character in your story as well, your characters, LOL!


*  *  *


But wait! I have a couple of fun surprise that I’d like to share with you!!


Storyworld Begins Here!



First, I’ve teamed up with 35 fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of inspirational contemporary romances to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner!

Oh, and did I mention you'll receive a collection of FREE ebooks just for entering? ;D

You can win my novel Second Chance Ranch, plus books from authors like Candee Fick and Dan Walsh. 

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: http://bit.ly/inspyrom-feb2018

Good luck and enjoy!

Storyworld Begins Here!


Second, my debut Love Inspired novel, Rocky Mountain Hero has been packaged in a 2in1 set with fellow LI author, Lois Richer. Rumor has it, this collection has been offered to the bookclub exclusively - for now.

Leave a comment and I'll put your name in the cowboy hat and draw names for 3 copies. Isn't this a great cover?



Storyworld Begins Here!Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and is surrounded by everything conducive to writing about farming, ranching, and cowboys at her day job in the county Extension office in Boulder County, Colorado. She began writing right after her son was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same son graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have her plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at
Twitter: @audraharders


Where Have All The Words Gone?

Happy New Year, everyone! So many changes happening in Seekerville, it kind of makes one giddy, if of course, you’re prone to that sort of thing. Changes are good. They make you step back and re-evaluate, tweak, and try something new.

Pretty sweet, right?


Where Have All The Words Gone?





That’s the verse that guides my writing life. I choose to write romance books; He points me toward inspirational stories to help people find hope. Pretty straight forward, right? Well, for the most part-yes.

It’s the other part that tends to give me problems.

You see, I had interpreted this verse to mean exactly as I saw it. Writing romance with 3 strands - Hero, Heroine, God - that’s a good choice, right? I love bringing my characters together once they get their brains wrapped around the fact that God covets and demands an important role in their lives. The ideas flowed through my brain and my little fingers couldn’t keep up. I had ideas for books and characters and plots. I was enthusiastic and energized with the possibilities -

Until… “The Day The Earth Stood Still.” (Remember that movie? The original version? Scared the pants off me back in the day!)

I remember exactly when the creativity stopped flowing from my heart. Those of us who could get away from our daily duties had escaped for a Seekers retreat. Our very first Christmas novella collection had been successful and we were discussing the possibility of compiling another. Count me in! So, I toyed with characters from my series and came up with ideas. I picked Ruthy’s brain (very fertile ground!) about bakeries and how to run them. We came up with lots of scenarios for my little baker and the all the problems she could run into along the way. Hot Dog!

Where Have All The Words Gone?


But something was wrong. Even before we left the retreat, I could feel a disconnect with this fabulous story. I shook off the feeling passing it off as returning-to-day-job blues. I convinced myself that as soon as I got home, cuddled the dog, hugged my husband, all will be right again. I had 3 months to write a 25K novella that I had plotted out. Not a problem.

I got to work.

  I hunkered down at my computer and powered through the blank slate of my mind, insisting on writing words, convinced they’d make sense sooner or later. Didn’t happen.
  I changed my writing routine.I grabbed my laptop and headed into the foothills that edge my town. I drove to my favorite mountain park to absorb the fresh air and forest atmosphere. Usually writing description is my forte. Nope. The essence of Rocky Mountain beauty fell flat.
  I removed distractions by holing up in a small meeting room at our library. Sitting with my back to the viewing window, I stared at the blank wall and waited for the story to flow. Instead of racking up words, I got caught up in the non-descript pattern of tiny texture of the vinyl wall-covering and tuned in to the rhythm of the ventilation system as air-conditioning whooshed on and off.

Sound familiar maybe? If you’ve read any sort of “How-To” book on becoming a successful author, they should. Here's the expert advice:

  • Butt In Chair
  • Mix It Up
  • Word Count
  • How Bad Do You Want It?



“Pray About It” is suggested in all of the Christian guides.

I did pray about it. But you see, I was convinced I knew what God wanted me to do. He’d heard the prayers of the Seekers; He’d answered my prayers. I was published with a traditional publisher, my dreams had come true. When the words didn’t come, I was convinced I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was letting God down. He’d answered my prayer and I wasn’t passing muster. 

I prayed, but I wasn’t listening to His response.


Where Have All The Words Gone?


After about a year of dismal effort to write anything coherent, I gave up. And cried. And apologized to God for letting Him down. He should have chosen someone else to make the most of all the opportunities and gifts He’d given me. I’d convinced myself I had nothing to offer aspiring writers, I couldn’t even put two words together much less form a sentence. I’m the unlucky thirteenth Seeker.

It wasn’t until I’d cried through a crate of Kleenex and allowed a thick layer of dust to gather on my keyboard that the Spirit whispered in my ear -- I was trying to fix something that wasn’t broken.


Where Have All The Words Gone?


There’s a reason we all learn the 23rd Psalm at a very early age. It’s all about God telling us how much He loves us.

Now, to the point of my story.

I finally let go and let God, as the saying goes. I set aside my aspirations to write more books. I closed the door to guilt and frustration. I surrendered.

I’d like to say suddenly my world brightened and birds began to sing, but no, nothing so dramatic happened. Instead, I made a point of enjoying my day job (good thing since I still have years before I retire, LOL); I spent time with my family and friends; I started reading for enjoyment.

I know it sounds corny, but I started to sing. Loudly. 

Where Have All The Words Gone?


God must of either liked my singing so much He rewarded me, or He cringed at the off-key tunes and gave me something to stop the noise. Either way, after over a year and a half, I felt the words I’d lost return to me, and they are good :)

The moral to my tale is simple: As readers and writers, we’re in love with words, with story. Embrace the creativity poured over you and the talent to write gripping, funny, loving stories with your whole heart. Thank the Lord for His gifts. And work hard to accomplish your goals.

It may sound like I’m contradicting myself, but really, I’m all for discipline and pushing through the rough spots on your writing journey. We all run into those walls of writing frustration, and diligence is essential to overcoming them. But, also be alert to whether pushing yourself is helping or hurting. When you pray for guidance, LISTEN to the response you get. Sometimes those “blank word” times are God’s way of telling his children to stop and rest - He's got plans for you.

I’m working on a book now. Well, it’s not just one book, it’s become a series. The deeper I dig into the characters, the brighter my bulb of imagination shines. I’ve got notes and scene snippets all over my office. Stay tuned and see what happens!



So, there you have it. The story of the Seeker who went MIA. How about you? Have you experienced “writer’s block?” Have you run into writing dead-ends that just won’t quit? What kind of frustrations have you experienced? What have you done about them? Please share. Let’s kick off 2018 by supporting each other!!

Leave a comment and then check out the Weekend Edition on Saturday to see if you've won a choice of ebook written by one of our new Seekerville bloggers!!


Where Have All The Words Gone?Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and is surrounded by everything conducive to writing about farming, ranching, and cowboys at her day job in the county Extension office in Boulder County, Colorado. She began writing right after her son was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same son graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have her plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at
Twitter: @audraharders
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