Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Well Do You Pamper Your Inner Writer? The Unscientific Quiz.

Ruthy here, welcoming cute, spunky, adorable Golden Heart finalist Anne Barton. I had the pleasure of meeting Anne in person in Orlando and:

A. She didn't run screaming.

B. She didn't cry.

C. At no time whatsoever did she call the authorities to have me arrested.

Obviously we're destined to be BFF's. (Best Friends Forever for those of you who don't have text-savvy young people running around.)

So while we're sitting here NOT POUTING about not being in Indianapolis, let's redouble our efforts, be the best writers we can be and use the time we're NOT at a conference to discipline ourselves toward citius, altius, fortius. "Faster, Higher, Stronger."

Seekerville, I give you: Anne

Around this time of year, things can start to get a little hectic. The long, lazy days of summer are behind us, and everybody’s back to school or work. Conferences are coming up, and the deadline to enter the Golden Heart ® is looming. Authors are busy juggling proposals, revisions, copy edits, and promotion. And you know the stores will be putting out Christmas decorations any day now. Ack!

How well do you pamper your inner writer in the midst of all this stress? Take this little quiz and find out.

Eyes on your own paper, everybody . . .

1) You’ve been writing into the wee hours of the morning for several days in a row, and co-workers at the day job have commented on your bloodshot eyes. You even nodded off during a very important staff meeting regarding the future of casual Fridays. Clearly, you need:

A. More caffeine

B. Eye drops

C. To get a good night’s sleep

D. To quit your job

The correct answer is C. Caffeine is good, but too much can result in a nervous tic. (Trust me on this.) Eye drops can get the red out but are useless against the dark circles and zombie-like trance. Plus, sleep deprivation just isn’t good for your writing. (Trust me on this also.) If you answered D, you’re not taking this quiz seriously. Let’s buckle down, shall we?

2) You’ve been spending so much time inside at your computer that sunlight burns your eyes, and you can’t remember what sound birds make. It’s high time that you:

A. Googled “bird sound wav files”

B. Turned on the Discovery Channel

C. Went for a stroll outside

D. Took your laptop (or a notebook and pen) outside to write

I’ll accept either C or D. Some people may actually opt to jog or run outside. I’ve never been one to confuse exercise with pampering, but, hey, whatever works for you.

3) You’re in the middle of chapter 8, and all your inspiration has run out. How will you get the ideas flowing again?

A. Make a story collage (Jenny Crusie explains how and shares one of hers)

B. Read a romance, poetry, or Calvin and Hobbes

C. Watch a movie, a documentary, or an episode of Glee

D. Listen to music or recordings of RWA Conference workshops or speeches (like this one by Lisa Kleypas)

This was a freebie! Any and all of the above are correct. Whatever sparks ideas, helps you relax, or reminds you that there’s a world outside of your manuscript is good. Also, A is an excellent excuse to do Google searches for hero inspiration.

4) The hours you’ve been devoting to your story have left little time for real human contact. How will you reconnect with your husband/kids/friends?

A. Send out a Tweet

B. Poke them on Facebook

C. Write them a lengthy email with emoticons

D. Take everybody out for dinner. Order pizza, salad, and a nice bottle of Chianti.

It’s D, of course. Doesn’t that sound good?

5) You’ve been killing yourself to make a deadline, and . . . you did it! Now what?

A. Champagne and chocolate

B. A fun day trip with the family

C. A few days of cleaning the house and catching up on chores

D. Must dive right into the next project. That book isn’t going to write itself.

Please, please, please tell me you didn’t answer C. If you did, I’m sorry—it’s negative 1,000 points. The correct responses are A and B. D is admirable, in a Type A personality sort of way, but I do think you should take a little time to celebrate first.

6) Congratulations! You’ve won a weekend at a writer’s retreat. You’re headed to a cabin in the mountains that overlooks a tranquil lake. What is the ONE thing (besides your computer) that you MUST bring with you?

A. Your favorite research book

ruthy-pick...who needs pants when you
have these guys?
B. Your trusty thesaurus

C. Your DVD of The Hero’s 2 Journeys

D. Your writing pants

D. Writing pants, which look remarkably similar to pajama pants, are a writer’s best friend.

Alright, class, pencils down.

So, how do you think you did? If you read this far, guess what—you get an A+. YAY!

Time for recess! What are some other ways you take care of your inner writer? How about your outer writer? If you’re a reader, are you convinced all writers are crazy? One lucky commenter wins a $15 Starbucks gift card!


  1. I keep an open bag of Dove dark chocolate on my desk for whenever my muse needs a bribe. Plus the sayings inside the wrappers either inspire me or make me think, "I can write better than that!"

  2. This was a really fun post! I love what Katie Hart said about the Dove dark chocolate--that's my mom's favorite! You should have seen us on one of our vacations this summer: one drawer in the kitchen of the rental home had like 3 bags of Dove chocolates! ;)

    Anyway, I love the idea of taking a walk. :) I confess that as a college student I haven't been writing much lately. :( But this summer I was inspired while on vacation, so I think going out and gaining new experiences is a great way to encourage one's writing!



  3. Lol, loved this post! Thanks for the lightness and laugh.
    As to answer you - I sit in front of a good rom-com with half a chocolate cake in my lap. Preferably at a time when I'm husband-and-kid-free. The endorphins work wonders for the muse!

  4. Ah, my new BFF ANN-WITH-AN-E is here with us today! Welcome to Seekerville again, my friend! I loved this post, so totally fun and timely. Good job, sweetums.

    And forgive me for the M&M pic.

    Couldn't resist. Pajama pants (wearin' 'em now as a matter of fact) and "the boys in the bag"...

    Could life get better'n that? I submit that it cannot.

    And TODAY is really Tina's birthday. And half the world is on their way to Indianapolis, so let's join together to wish TEEEEENA, Mayor of Seekerville, a happy 39th.

    Bless her heart!

    The carrot cake is on the right, the chocolate strawberry cake with whipped cream frosting is on the left in the refrigerated dessert bar case, alongside sundae fixings for the ice cream. I stocked up with Abbott's soft vanilla and chocolate custard, Perry's Parkerhouse Cherry (Aunt Isabelle's favorite), Mint-ting-a-ling, Turkey Hill's Bronx Bombers (baseball reference, of course) and caramel brownie swirl. Toppings are on top of the bar.

    Dig in.

  5. Ruthy? Abbott's frozen custard for a large group? Well, money is no object I guess. But now everyone will want to move here.

    I'm sorry to say I chose C, Anne. Yes, first I'd clean THEN I'd celebrate. Those negative points really messed up my score. but no surprise.

    I'm also glad to learn the official decree on 'writer pants'. Thanks for getting my brain fired up this morning.

  6. Fun quiz, Anne. Made me realize I definitely need to pamper my inner writer more!

    One thing I have to do when I'm stuck on a scene (this going to sound weird) is I have to get up and walk. Move. Even if it's to pace in my confined space. :)

    Happy Birthday, Tina. Ruthie- the cakes sound great! Which to choose, which to choose? The chocolate cake sounds great- especially with the strawberries- so I think I'll indulge today. Need my energy for the 9-hour drive coming up.


  7. Good morning! It's so nice to wake up to these comments. Seekerville is the best--thanks for having me, Ruthy!

    I had no idea it was Tina's birthday, or I might have done something entirely different for this post. HAPPY BDAY, TINA!!! I refuse to believe you're over 29 (if you promise to do the same for me). Did anyone see Survivor last night? They divided the survivors into 2 tribes--young (30 & under) & old (40 and up). I'm not totally comfortable with that!

    Good thoughts and safe travels for everyone at ACFW. We're looking forward to updates from Indy!

    Gosh, Thursday is a tough day for pampering. I'm getting ready to head to work but so looking forward to hanging out later. But first, COFFEE.

  8. Thanks for the test, Ane,

    No... Really... ;)
    I believe I flunked, way to make feel better about myself.

    Merely kidding.

    Actually, while everyone's lives may be getting crazier, mine winds down some because my g-kids are in school and daycare. Thus giving me a break in a small measure. And we must take those as we get them.

    I of that break ran smack dab into canning, thankfully that will be over soon

    I do try to get outsideand get the rays.

    My dilemma is not so much in the write, write write vain, mine is in the man-I-sure-wish-I-could.

    Cause while I caught a bit of break there is still more going on.

  9. TEEENNNNAAAA!!!!!!!!! Happy Birthday, girl and SOOOO wish you would be at ACFW so we could celebrate with you!!

    And, ANNE!!!! Welcome to Seekerville and what a fun post!! I flunked, but then my brain was always "Gone With the Wind" in class during school, so what do you expect???

    Ruthy, Tina and Sandra ... YOU WILL BE MISSED GREATLY AT ACFW, my friends. Thanks for holding down the fort.


  10. I'm not a writer, just a reader. But I'm amazed by the talent of authors and the work they have put into their passion for writing. No, I don't think they're crazy, but they must be determined to keep going. For me relaxing is laying down with a good book and a bag of jelly beans or candy corn! That will do it everytime!

  11. Hi Anne, Welcome to Seekerville, What a great post.

    And I was privileged to meet you also in Orlando.

    Great ideas for pampering that inner writer. I'm all for pampering.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TINA. And I'll take some carrot cake. My favorite. And the Dove's sound good too.

    I brought some Chocolate Velvet coffee. And to add to Ruthy's ice cream bar I have homemade peach ice cream. My fav at this time of year.

    Patsy, my favorite people are readers. And with jelly beans. Can I join you?

  12. I read that article in the latest RWR about how to "play" in order to get the ideas flowing on a new book. That was really awesome. I would love to try that some day, when I'm not up to my eyeballs in marketing and my kids aren't having 3-hour volleyball matches on a school night. (Do I sound whiney? Oops. Gotta curb that urge.)

    Yesterday was a complete waste of my time, I should have stayed in bed, but I'm leaving at 6 a.m. tomorrow to go to CONFERENCE!!! So I must go get it in gear and get my bags packed people!!!

    Thank you, Ruthy and Anne for that delightful post! I really enjoyed the quiz!!! I'm afraid I actually did answer that that person who was staying up late writing and then falling asleep in meetings should quit their job. And I also got the 1,000 points deducted for cleaning my house after meeting a deadline! I have to do that!!! My husband won't celebrate with me until he can actually see the floor beneath his feet!

  13. Melanie, That is too funny about seeing the floor.

    Have fun at the conference. I know you will.

  14. Ah, Mel...

    Quitting the job.

    I see so many new writers do this too soon.

    And there are so many people who hold down a full-time job and manage to spin off book after book (have I mentioned that Margaret Daley is one of my heroes? All those books AND a full time special ed teacher until just this past year...)

    It's all in what you're willing to do.

    End of lecture because I really just stopped in for coffee...

    And dying for the chocolate velvet, thank you, SANDRA!!!


    (Do not notice me nipping carrot cake. Cool September mornings equate cinnamon and nutmeg enhanced intake. If that's not a rule, it should be.)

  15. I passed!
    But ONLY cause I read down to the bottom :D

    thanks for the fun post, dear.

    Instead of overworking myself on Saturday, I sleep in till I can't stand to lay there anymore, then get a few minutes in on my current WIP outline.

    Till I save more money, those are my goodies :)


  16. I ALMOST got minus 1000 points. But I got an A+ since I finished - talk about a roller coaster here.

    LOVED this post. SO much. Facebook Scrabble is a good break from writing - for me anyway. AND a nap. :D

  17. Anne, welcome back to Seekerville.

    You're so much fun. So utterly insanely a writer.

    I watch romantic movies to treat myself!! Occasional dinner with a gal pal who doesn't want to talk about writing. Both are very freeing.

  18. I am trying not to pout about Indy, hard, hard, hard, hard. Okay, failing.


    And sigh again.

    Okay, (like Mater here) I'M GOOD! (or I will be :)

    Anywho, FUN POST!!! I absolutely loved it and it brightened my entire day! Thanks so much!!!!

  19. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Katie - the Dove writer's comment is a hoot!

    TINA!! Hippo Birdies, Two Ewes!!!

    Pampering the inner writer - maybe a fun Wii session - we have the balance board and I can go skiiing or run through an obstacle course or hula hoop - it's fun and at least I get in a little exercise.

    I'm a total jeans girl - so no PJ pants for me - just jeans...

    And reading a Seeker book... or BFF Seeker book (Like The Healer's Apprentice - just finished it - that serves as inspiration as well!)

    Thanks Anne - this was way fun. And thx Ruthy - chef of Seekerville!

  21. Sigh, so this means I can't quit the day job? How about the part-time job? No? Rats!

    I don't know if this counts as pampering -- probably more of a bribe. When I am reading a really, really, really good book that I just don't want to put down I'll use it as a reward. If I write 1000 words I get to read a chapter. Write 500 words, read a section. Write a paragraph, read a page. LOL. It depends how desperate I am. But it keept me writing!

  22. I have an open bag of Dove chocolate near by, but not so near that I don't have to get up and get it. The exercise negates the calories.

    I have a pair of writing pants. In fact several and I like to wear them every time I write. I need to be comfortable in order to write well or even not so well.

  23. Randomly walking around saying "Blech on the Yankees," generally does wonders for me.


  24. Some excellent ideas. Usually I step away from my desk and take a walk. A ten minute break can do wonders.


  25. Hi there! Popping in during my lunch hour (ha ha it's really a lunch "quarter-hour") to see what's shakin'.

    So many good ideas for pampering!

    Katie--My muse loves dark chocolate too! But she has no self control. None. I can't keep that stuff around. And LOL on the wrapper sayings. I'll bet you could write some great ones . . . in fact, maybe they should have bags of Dove chocolate designed just for writers.

    Amber--walking. Really??? Just kidding, walks are good for your brain, body, and soul. Or so they tell me. I'm with you on the new experiences though. We all have to crawl out of our writing caves once in a while. I hope your semester is off to a good start. :)

    Zee--LOL on the half of a chocolate cake. And a movie with no chase scenes or machine guns? Heaven! Going to Netflix queue now . . .

  26. Oh my. Gina, are you trying to start something with Ruthy? Am I going to have to separate you two?

  27. Ruthy! My BFFL, (pronounced "biffle"--best friend for life) thanks again for the warm welcome. And the food. That is some serious pampering.

    It was SO much fun meeting you and the other Seekers in Orlando. That's why I'm trying not to be jealous of everyone in Indy. Being in Seekerville definitely helps. :)

    M&Ms are good. With peanuts--for the protein,you know.

  28. Debra--you chose C? Maybe you should stay after class. You can write on the board, 100 x, "It's OK to have a messy house." LOL, and thanks for stopping by!

    Dianna--moving and stretching are good too, esp. when that blinking cursor seems to be taunting you. I think that makes you a kinesthetic writer. Yes, I'm making stuff up now. Oh, and have a safe drive!

  29. Fun Quiz, but I too, added the 1000points because I'd clean my house!

    I pamper my outer writer by walking or doing yoga or sitting and people watching!

  30. Tina P--I'm glad to hear that Fall means a little break for you. Enjoy! Even though it's busy for me, getting back into all the normal routines does seem to help with productivity.

    Don't worry about flunking. I'm grading on a HUGE curve. :)

    Julie--Have a great time and hug all the Seekers for me. GWTW = pampering so you're good. (See above comment about grading curve.)

    Patsy--Thanks for saying all writers aren't crazy. I'm pretty sure you're just trying to make us feel better, but guess what, it worked! I couldn't agree more about reading with a bag jelly beans and/or candy corn nearby. They're not just for Easter and Halloween. ;)

  31. I'm hiding after what Gina said.

    Yikes. Those who aren't running don't know Ruthy.

    But I'm bringing the M & M's with me.

    What's with all these people who select C.??????
    I'm starting to get a complex. Because that would be my LAST choice in a mill ion gazillion years.

  32. Sandra--it was great meeting you at RWA. I have a cute photo of you, Janet, Keli, and me at the literacy signing on my blog. THANK YOU for the coffee. Do you really make homemade peach ice cream? Yum.

    Melanie--I should have included another option on the day job question--hire a personal assistant, chauffeur, and maid. Sounds like you need that. Me too! Happy packing, and I hope you have a great time. And floors are overrated. :)

  33. Kelly--sleeping in is a luxury indeed. And it feels so good after a long week. My favorite thing to do on Sat. mornings when I roll out of bed to grab a cup of coffee and read the Weekend Edition here. I totally look forward to it! BTW, I am impressed (and a little intimidated) by people who outline. :)

    Joanne--yes, it's a roller coaster, LOL. I have a fetish for online Scrabble too. Geek alert-- my best word score ever is on a sticky note underneath my monitor. (FEATURES for 158 points. What can I say, the stars were aligned.)

    Tina--aw, thank you! "Utterly insanely a writer" is maybe the nicest thing anyone's ever said about me. I hope you have good plans for your bday tonight. You definitely deserve some pampering!

  34. I'm going to go check out the photo. How fun. All those memories of Orlando help appease the fact we aren't in INDY. smile

    And yes, homemade peach ice cream is the best.

  35. Casey--LOL, "you're good!" Hang in there, at least the weekend is almost here. And Katie, Amber, and Cara are going to share their Dove chocolates. I hope they brought enough for the whole class.

    KC--the Wii, huh? Hmmm. That sounds a lot like exercise, which probably explains why you can fit into your writing jeans. :) Just kidding, I like the Wii too, but I spend the majority of my time changing the hair styles on my Mii. Oh and I agree, reading is a very nice break!

  36. Kav--Not many of us can afford to go the route of the Southwest flight attendant and quit via the emergency slide. I like my day job though (just in case my boss is reading this!) Bribing yourself is an excellent idea too! Sometimes I make myself do my words for the day before I get to surf or check email.

    Cara--LOL, don't you know it's impossible to "not write well" when you're wearing writing pants? They are like Superman's cape--imbued with power. (I hope imbued is a word. If I were wearing my writing pants, I'd know.)

    Runner--yes, a 10-minute walk can be just the thing. Esp. if one is walking to get coffee or snacks. And I like the way you said "step away from the desk." Slowly, so no one gets hurt. :)

  37. Hi, Anne, Sorry I'm joining the party late. Fun post, and a nice way to relax this evening.

    Happy Birthday, Tina! Hope you're having a wonderful day!

    I pamper myself with a good movie, football game, or just hanging out with friends.

    Just an interesting sidebar--well maybe I just think it's interesting--but at the maritime heritage conference I attended today author Clive Cussler received an achievement award for his work in excavating sunken ships. The first half of his talk was about his journey to becoming a published author and a few of the blunders he made after publication. One thing he said is when he started writing he didn't dream of making large amounts of money or selling millions of books. What he dreamed about at night was seeing one person on a bench waiting for the bus reading his book.
    I felt like I was getting a two-for a small writing seminar along with maritime history.


  38. Rose--I have agree with Sandra, the number of people who answered C (cleaning house) is alarming! :) Yoga and people watching sound good though. For pampering the outer writer I also like a trip to the salon. It's nice to take the hair out of the ponytail once in a while.

    Sandra--do you think it's odd that Ruthy hasn't responded to Gina's blatant Jeter attack? She could be plotting something. I'm scared.

  39. Anne, I'm trembling.

    She may be busy trying to keep Blackie from crowing. But when she reads this, I'm running for the hills.

    Gina. Where are YOU hiding? We won't tell.

    Or maybe Ruthy's cleaning house. ROFLOL

  40. Kav, I use the reading reward system too.

    And chocolate rewards. (yes, I try to discipline myself except at conferences. Then it's chocolate and coffee that keep me alive.)


    You are so naughty. But funny. And really, really cute.

    And I love those bombers enough for ....


    all of us, LOL!

  41. Tina called Anne insane and Anne took it as a compliment.

    We are such a bunch of weirdos.

  42. Chocolate is definitely what I need. Although a walk isn't such a bad idea, either.

  43. Hi Anne,

    Just had to stop by and wave to my 2008 GH pixie sister!

    I don't pamper myself enough - except that I read, read, read like a fiend. And that inspires me a lot!

    I'm glad to have company while most of the Seekers are away.

    Happy birthday, Tina!! I know this will be a GREAT year for you.

    And Julie, I just received your book in the mail yesterday! YAY! I have to wait until I finish the ones on hand (library ones). But I love the anticipation!

    Cheers & have lots of fun,


  44. Kirsten--thanks for coming by and sharing the tidbits from your conference.

    "What he dreamed about at night was seeing one person on a bench waiting for the bus reading his book."

    So cool. Sounds like you had a great day!

  45. Nicole--Thanks for dropping by. If I've learned one thing today it's that we all need to buy stock in a chocolate company. LOL.

    Sue--Hi there. You are under direct orders to pamper yourself. Don't make me fly over there and zap you with my pixie wand. ;)

    And I love what you said about the anticipation of reading a great book like Julie's. You want to savor every chapter because you know you'll reach the end way too soon. *sigh*

  46. My wife is convinced I'm crazy. Does that count?

    Happy birthday, Tina. Sending a virtual 1-2-3-4 cake your way with homemade Italian icing.

    How do I feed my inner writer?


    Then coffee.

    Then chocolate.

    Then coffee.

    Then chocolate

    You may be sensing a pattern here.

    I really feed my inner writer with a mocha. However, I don't drink them that often as they would lose thei ability to affect me.

    A writer's retreat is also good, though that usually involves me going to a coffee shop and spending several hours.

    I also like a good book. Imagine that.


  47. Such a cute post, Anne! Thanks so much for being with us today.

  48. Walt--LOL. If mochas start to lose their effect, my advice is to add more whipped cream.

    Now that the air's turned crisp, hot coffee tastes even better. I noticed Starbucks has their spiced pumpkin lattes out. You know what that means . . . gingerbread isn't far behind!

    And speaking of Starbucks, I'll coordinate with the lovely Seekers and see if we can post the winner of the drawing this weekend. Thank you all so much for stopping by. You made my day. :)

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. Sorry that was a double post.

    So much for my graceful exit. :)

  51. Anne,

    I realize I'm waaaay late, but I was busy pampering my inner writer at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference and hanging out with Seekers and Seekerville friends when this post was up. I tried sooo hard to leave you a comment using my new iPod Touch, but after typing on that micro screen for a good twenty minutes, my efforts went poof when I couldn't see the word verification prompt and asked for help.

    I love this post. It's such fun. I hesitate to admit that I ended up with a ginormous negative number. I tend to dive into a frantic game of catch-up when I complete a major project and neglect to take time to celebrate my success. I needed that reminder.

    I'm sorry I was unable to wish Tina happy birthday on her special day. Since I think a birthday deserves more of a celebration than a measly 24 hours, I'll leave my belated wishes.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Tina!! I hope your day was a blast.