Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jumpstart on Creative Mode for Speedbo

Sandra here and hoping you're all having a terrific week. And can you believe it is almost the month of March? My, my where does the time fly?

Speaking of March are you ready for Speedbo? I can hardly wait to see our Seeker friends writing their hearts out. Happy dancing!

Before Speedbo starts and we turn on our tunnel vision toward our wip, lets talk about things to do to keep the creative juices flowing.

There are physical, mental and spiritual things you can do to enhance your creative muse. We had some great ideas for physical and mental things last Monday in the post by Robin Caroll. Yesterday, Missy gave us some great food tips for keeping that body strong.

Let's look at the physical things we can do. I will divide this into two aspects: your physical environment and your physical body condition.


Find a place to write where there are no distractions or reminders of stress, chores, etc.

Julie has a really nice office, but she does most of her writing sitting on her porch that looks out over the forest where deer and chipmunks wander.

I write in my motorhome-even when it’s parked in my back yard. My office is a fright and I've learned that all that disorder interferes with creativity. Every time I glance up from the keyboard or computer screen, I see other chores that need to be done, bills that need to be paid, shelves that need dusting. One solution was suggested to me and I’m going to try it. Put all the disorder on one side of the room. Place your computer facing an uncluttered desk, table, etc and a wall with simple and/or peaceful décor.

When Ruthy was raising her children, she garnished a corner of her attic to create her masterpieces.

It doesn't matter where it is or how big or fancy, it needs to be uncluttered and stress free.

In Scottsdale the Franciscan Renewal Center has facilities that are perfect for writers. The grounds used to be a bordello out in the desert, but it was bought by the Franciscan monks who have made it a spiritual retreat. Many local writer’s groups use the facilities for workshops. There are rooms you can rent that are extremely reasonable and the fee includes meals with the monks in their cafeteria. I love going there for quiet writing time when I can’t find it at home.

Look for out of the way places in your area that are reasonable. Maybe a friend has a cabin you can borrow. Or an RV you can take to a park for the day.

I like to write in complete silence. That is possible in my household (at times). Some writers like music. I have to admit, I've used suspenseful sounding music when I want to crank out a suspenseful scene. Romantic love songs help with the touching love scenes.

And as has been mentioned before in other posts, get your family and friends on the same page. Be firm. If you waffle or waver once, they will know they can get your attention. You do remember how a two year old (or in my case my husband) acts the minute you get on the phone. LOL


The other physical aspect is your body. Robin and commenters on her post gave us some great exercises to keep that blood flowing to the brain. Timely breaks are important.

Exercise is always good. For one thing, it relieves stress, which is the biggest inhibitor to creativity. I personally like to take walks because I can plot while walking.

Tina has a platform for her computer on her treadmill. How clever is that? Carolyn Fyffe shows her treadmill computer on her website and wrote about it in her Seekerville post Not Enough Hours in Your Day.

Finally let’s address diet. My fellow Seekerville brothers and sisters, you are going to tar and feather me, but please hear me out. Sugar (and that includes chocolate) is not our friend. You can get a boost when the sugar rushes directly from your mouth to your brain, but the rush is followed by a drastic drop in blood sugar. This causes stress and as we have pointed out, stress is not our friend. Stress inhibits creativity.

So read Missy’s post from yesterday and read what many of the commenters use. Nuts, fruits, sliced meats, veggie snacks, these are great brain food. Or checkout recipes from Yankee Belle.

Eat small snacks instead of large meals that leave you wanting to take a nap.


A writing marathon like speedbo involves less thinking and more attitude.

You don’t have time to think things through. You don’t have time to let that left brain rationalize, ponder, criticize, edit, critique or even complement. You need to lock your left brain in the closet and let your right brain creativity come out and play.

Again stress is your enemy. Ways to fight mental stress.

Who recognizes this verse? “Keep your mind on whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report. If there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.” And what will your reward be? Peace.

Doubt is another enemy. You have to BELIEVE that you can do this. “If you say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and do not doubt in your heart but believe that what you say will happen, it will. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”

Your words and thoughts are powerful. Do not even whisper things like “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have a good place to write.” “I won’t ever finish a whole novel.”

“I will write every day.”
“I will find a place to write.”
“I will finish my novel.”
“My novel will be published.”

You get the idea. Keep those thoughts positive.


In our culture we often stay focused on our mental and physical condition, but often forget our spiritual condition needs the same amount of attention.

Does anyone remember the verse that follows the one above from Mark? “And if you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him.” Anger, unforgiveness, dissension, gossip, lies, and fear are all enemies to creativity.

It is impossible to create when your mind is stewing over some injustice or fear. Well you can give those nasty feelings to your protagonist. LOL But it is best to give them to the One who offered to take them from us. So take advantage of the season of lent and get rid of these transgressions and distractions before you start writing.

Spend time listening to that still small voice of God.
Find quiet time to pray. Ask God for help. Ask Him to show you your characters.

Debby shared with me that she gets some of her best inspiration while sitting in church in adoration of the Saviour.

Well, that’s it folks. Here’s your checklist. Good preparation is the key to success.

Share with us some other ideas and ways to keep those juices flowing and have a chance to win a pound of Godiva Chocolate Raspberry coffee. We will also have a second drawing for a Seeker book. You can save those as rewards for April when you’ve finished that manuscript. :)

Be sure and check the Weekend Edition for winners.

Watch for Audra's post tomorrow with more helpful advice to tackle SPEEDBO


  1. Monasteries run by Benedictine Monks take guests. Mount Saviour Monastery in Pine City, NY can provide private accomodations if you book ahead. Highly recommend if you need peace and quiet. Price is fantastic too.

  2. Great Post! I have a desk that fits over my stationary bike and I edit and write while I'm pedaling! It works great. :)

  3. I require quiet and solitude to write. I have it.

    I require lots of time to write. I have it.

    I DO write every day.The question is how much I can increase my daily output. I NEED to take care of details as I go. Not sure how well I can change my habitgs.

    The coffee pot's ready.


  4. Sandra!!! I'm glad you're posting today because FIRST I wanted to say that we LOVED your books! We've read them over and over, and I took them to read to my 3rd grade church class on Tuesday last.

    Now, I cut and pasted about 80% of this into a file that I'm going to read before I write... every time.
    Beautiful, beautiful words!

  5. Oh, P.S. I'm just ignoring all these comments about treadmills and stationary bikes by the desks. LALALALALA, I can't hear you!

  6. Oh you late night people. I admire your ability to stay up late. smile

    Stephanie that is great. Thanks for the heads up for New Yorkers.

    I bet if you googled Spiritual Retreats in your area you might find many surprises.

  7. Debra, I love the bicycle idea. Actually that would work better for me than the treadmill. I think I'll try it.

    Virginia DO YOU HEAR US? LOL

  8. Hi Helen, One of the reasons to try Speedbo or NaNo is to change things up. This will theoretically give you a boost. So try it for the month. Editing does slow you down.

    If it does bother you, pick some highlight colors and simply highlight the section you know you need to come back to.

    ie. highlight in blue for spelling, red for needs research, yellow for grammar, green for needs more detail, etc.

    Remember its lent. You can give up editing just for the month.

    Thanks for the coffee. Now giving up that would be cruel to my family. I would be way too grumpy. LOL

  9. Hi Virginia,
    Are you still LA LA LAing? You gave me such a chuckle to wake me up.

    I'm so tickled you like the books.

    Happy writing.

  10. Virginia, you're a hoot.

    Unfortunately, I can't get away from clutter and chore reminders as I live in an apartment right now and everything in it lives on top of each other. lol. No, I'm afraid I have to rely soley on the intrigue and interest of the scene to keep me spellbound. :p


  11. Thanks for the great suggestions to keep on track, Sandra!

    I write best with music blaring and out in the living room. I tried writing in an office and it drove me nuts, I spent most of my time staring out the window like a condemned prisoner looking for an escape hatch. When I started digging a tunnel with a spoon, I fled the office environment. :o)

    I also walk or excercise if I hit a block and need the blood flowing again.


  12. Hi Whitney, I'm so with you on the clutter in my office. Maybe a nice photo of the setting your story takes place could be placed above your computer so when you pause, you can look up at that instead of what is around you. It could keep your mind on the scene instead of reminding you of other chores.

    Just a thought.

  13. Kirsten you gave me a real chuckle. A prisoner. Wow I can relate to that. My office is scary. I sometimes have the horror that all the clutter is going to reach out and strangle me. So yes, escape is good. Keep on writing.

  14. Great stuff ladies!
    Especially like that treadmill desk. Seems like Camy does that too, I think?

    May and I are excited about SpeedBo!!! We've set a deadline to finish May 2 by end of April. (Yes - I just said that outloud.)

    Super comments this morning - thanks earlier risers... :)

    When the weather is good, like yesterday, I also write on the porch. Otherwise, I have a space on the sofa, looking outside. In the quiet... When Gretchen isn't pointing out birds, deer, airplanes, cars...

    May of course is an angel and neverrr disturbs. (She's watching me type so needed to be careful.)

    If you have extra prayer time, we could use it today. We'll be in front of 150 kids about noon to talk about May's book! FUN!!

  15. Hi KC, Best wishes talking to 150 children. Whew. You are brave. Does May get to come along? How fun is that?

  16. Thanks Sandra.

    Oh yes - she's the STAR don't you know... BOL (that's barkin' out loud)...

    I'll post photos on her website if we get permission from parents. www.maythek9spy.com Always fun. May has a BLAST. This is why we had to get her story out there. So much to share.

    Thank you for the prayers. (I'm just hoping the parents are as well-behaved as I know the kids will be. HA!)

    It'll be fun!

  17. Sandra, I can feel your peace decend over me. Wow, what a powerful post!

    I'd like nothing better than to run away for the month and live in a monastery, eating with the monks and enjoying quiet.

    Hmmm, I do believe that's what Heaven will be like...with a few more personal embellishments, LOL!

    Great Speedbo prep, Sandra. Can you believe March 1 is just TWO days away?


  18. I was a bit greedy and did my speedbo yesterday. 6400 words written which finished my first draft. Now I'm in editing land so I'll have to promise to edit a number of hours or chapters, I guess.

    I'm so blessed to have time to write ( that's the positive spin on losing my job)

    Sandra this was very helpful. And peaceful. Thank you

  19. Good morning, Sandra! Cleaning the house can be therapeutic, but it's the paper clutter that sucks the creative juices right out of me.

    Keeping my work area (relatively) cleared helps keep me focused. I can ignore the growing clutter for awhile, but then it starts to distract and drain me--so I toss it in a printer paper box until I have time to deal with sorting thru magazines, catalogs, and old manuscripts. Which explains why five such boxes are stacked up in a corner of the bedroom. :)

  20. Seriously?! I can't believe you dissed chocolate in a public forum! Chocolate!!!!!! Thud!That was the sound of me crashing to the floor in disbelief. If my head injury is too severe to participate in Speedbo I'm blaming you!

    So...healthy snacks, you say? What about all that cookie dough sitting in my freezer?! How about chocolate covered almonds -- that's healthy right? And did anyone ever tell you that dark chocolate actually boosts your energy -- it zaps your brain. Seriously. It's a scientific fact and we can't go against science, right?

    Oy -- and now I need a new me before Thursday. Calm, serene, at peace, no stress...without chocolate? I think not!!!!!

  21. KC, Have fun. And I'll pray for the parents too. They will probably have as much fun as the children.

    I'll check the website too. May must be having a blast with all her popularity.

  22. Hi Audra, Yes, its terrifying to think time is marching along.

    And heaven for writers. Must be wonderful. I love reading Revelations where heaven is described so beautifully. You just know we are going to have the perfect setting for writing.

  23. I am all over this writers' retreat at a monastery. How fun would that be???? Spiritual and creative all in one.

    Awesome idea Sandra and Stephanie!

    Sandra, what great ideas. And I laughed about the attic because guess where I'm moving my office back to???

    The attic.

    It's peaceful and out-of-the-way.

    But I don't write there. I write at the kitchen table with a huge picture window across from me. Me and the sunrise, every morning. And the rooster. And I ignore clutter because with six kids, the clutter I have NOW is nothing compared to the clutter I had THEN... So I shrug it off.

    I love the advice about food.

    And discipline.

    I'm so stinkin' happy after writing every moment, seeing my progress, that I get Yippy-skippy gleeful.

    Because if I do NO MORE WRITING THAT DAY, I've gotten my 1K in.

    Time for salad with my broccoli slaw base. I brought enough for everyone!!!

    And raspberry vinaigrette or pepper/parmesan/ranch dressing.

    Love it!!!

  24. Debra, CONGRATULATIONS You're way ahead of the game. IT is always such a joy to finish that first draft.

    And editing is my favorite part so no difficulty in finding time for that. Go girl.

    your goal for Speedbo will be to have that manuscript ready to submit. woo hook

  25. Kav, honey, she may or may not have been SADLY MISTAKEN about the chocolate...

    Think chocolate in any form as reward. No matter what else happens in life, I can always justify chocolate.

  26. Hi Glynna,
    Don't you just get amazed at how those boxes pile up?

    I was at a workshop earlier this month on creativity and she suggested a file that says "Get done now" and just put everything that has to get done right away in that file and pick a day of the week to just sit and do it.

    That way you don't get too behind. Sounded good to me. I keep saying I'm going to try it. Guess that's my first job to get done-making that file. LOL

  27. Kav, You are tooooo funny.

    I was wondering if anyone was going to respond to the no no on chocolate. Its difficult to find chocolate that isn't loaded with sugar.

    But hey, we all do what we have to do. Withdrawal is stressful too and its all about getting rid of the stress to be more creative.

    Happy writing.

  28. Ruthy, Back to the attic? My, my, who says our first inspirations aren't the best?

    Congrats on getting that 1 K in already. I'm not surprised as you're the guru on sticking to your writing goals.

    Thanks for the salad too although its a little early still out west for lunch. I'm thinking of some eggs scrambled with chunks of ham, peppers, onions, mushrooms and topped with salsa. Anyone want to join me?

  29. Ruthy is also the guru on chocolate in any form. LOL

  30. SANDRA!!! EXCELLENT POST, my friend, covering every single base wonderfully!!

    A Franciscan Renewal Center that used to be a bordello out in the desert and that the Franciscan monks made into a spiritual retreat??? LOVE IT!!!

    And like you, Sandra, I have to have ABSOLUTE quiet when I write, which is why I seldom write in my hubby's office that we share anymore because the man HAS to have music going. And although he was kind enough to wear earphones, the poor guy couldn't stop the tap-tap-tapping of his fingers to the beat of the music, which drove me CRAZY!! I guess he can't help it he's got rhythm and I don't!!

    And I am SO with you on the exercise!! I swear on a stack of Bibles that every single time I get on the treadmill, I get ideas for scenes, lines, plots, etc. coming at me faster than my feet can fly on that walking belt!!

    Great tips, Sandra!!


  31. Great post, Sandra!

    I think I'm ready in most areas you mentioned -

    Physical Environment? Nearly there. I painted my office/school room in early January, and still have some moving in to do, but the clutter is mostly under control :)

    Physical Body? Not too shabby here, either. I don't have a treadmill or stationary bike, but I have a table set to counter-top height, and I move my computer there so I can stand/pace/dance(?) while I write and take a break from sitting.

    Music has become part of my writing environment. I've found that listening to early classical music like Mozart and Handel lets my left brain take over and the words just flow. I don't even hear the music...

    I snack on almonds, fruit and veggies, but no matter how much you plead, dear Sandra, I'm not giving up my allotted 16 Ghiradelli 60% baking chips a day.

    Mental Attitude? I've been working on increasing my daily word count over the last year. I started out by setting a goal of 100 words a day before the boys and I started school in the morning. I increased that to 500 in an hour, and then 750. When school ended in May, I increased my daily word count to 1000, and then started to pare the time down to 1000 in an hour. Now I try to do two 1K hours a day. If you had told me a year ago that I'd be regularly writing 2K words a day, I have thought you were nuts - but the key is baby steps.

    Spiritual Condition? You're so right - unresolved anger, distance from God, pride...all those things can deep six creativity. The only way my creativity can keep going is daily time with God.

    Again, great post, Sandra! Thanks!

  32. Hi Julie, Yes, walking always helps me with my creativity also. I think the process of walking keeps my left brain busy enough so the right brain can have a go at it. smile

    You do have lovely places to write in your gorgeous home so I don't worry about that for you. And we know it works for you because your writing is stellar.

    Happy walking and writing.

  33. Jan, Congrats on all you have accomplished.

    I love how you increased your writing per day with baby steps and then moved up to the big time. Way to go and a great suggestion for those who find the idea of 1K daunting.

    Thanks for sharing and I guess 60% chocolate chips aren't going to do you in as long as you keep it at 16. My problem is stopping at 16. LOL

  34. Okay folks,

    Here's a tip for those who CANNOT give up on chocolate. It is okay to eat sugar as long as you combine it with high protein and fiber. That will keep the spike down. Its the sugar spike and following drop that kills the creativity. So if your body has to process a lot of fiber and protein along with the sugar it will prevent the spike.

    Okay. Am I forgiven?

  35. I have been to the monastery in Pecos, NM. I stayed in the hermitage which meant I only saw others for meals. Excellent suggestion.

    Thanks for posting the treadmill desk of Tina's. I have been scratching my head over where I saw it mentioned. Now I know! Husband now has woodworking equipment. Guess what his next project will be.

    I have been asking God to direct my thoughts. So glad this event is happening during Lent.

    Peace and thanks, Julie

  36. Awesome post! I'm getting pumped! :D

    With my limitations, just getting out and going somewhere can be exhausting. Plus, I can actually ignore stuff around me more easily than I can focus if I'm in a new/strange/different environment. My mind wanders. I want to watch people, study flowers or the wind blowing in the trees... I'd never get anything done. My mess? It'll still be there and since I don't look forward to diving in I ignore it. But I have to say that this took years of practice. When I first became really ill, every little thing drove me crazy. That's actually why I started writing in earnest. It would take my mind off the things around me I couldn't do. See how different we can be? :D

  37. Good morning! Thanks for the tips, Sandra. I feel like I'm almost ready to start.

    Environment: well, the living room couch at 5 a.m. will have to do.

    Exercise: Yup, I take at least one walk a day at work just to get the blood moving, so might have to add another.

    Snacks: I love munching on Frosted Mini Wheats. Fiber and sweet together.

    Spiritual: Been working on that a lot lately, and feeling at peace about several things that I've been praying over for a long time.

    I'm getting so exited! I think it helps that I just finished a book similar to the story I'm going to tell, and it's made my fingers just itch to get to my keyboard! So many ideas swirling around and it's not March 1 yet!

  38. Wonderful post, Sandra! Love all your suggestions, especially the reminder of the importance of our spiritual condition. No matter how much a deadline is pressing, if I don't spend time with God each morning, I find myself slipping into panic mode. Panic and creativity don't play well together. LOL

    I've learned to stack clutter behind me, not on my desk where it can distract me.

    Debra, now we know how you keep so trim! Love your photo!

    Praying the day with all those kids goes well, KC!

    Off to do some preparation for March 1, the kick-off of SpeedBo. I'm thankful this is Leap Year. :-)


  39. Quiet? I remember experiencing quiet once. It was a long, long, long time ago. In my childhood home we didn't have to have a tv on in ever room 24/7. It's funny how marriage changes things. But hey he does all the cooking so I've learned to write even when all around me is chaos. I've learned to distinguish which screams need my attention from those that are just siblings being siblings.
    A monastery does sound kinda nice...but I don't think I'd be able to leave after the book was done.

  40. Jan...
    I love how you improved your daily word counts. That's something I can do.

    What I need to do to get ready:

    I need to file my taxes before Thurs. We should get a refund so it's just pure laziness that's holding me back.

    My husband is on vacation this week so Thur. thru Sunday I need to be determined not to let his being around the house distract me. Same goes for spring break in the middle of March with the kids.

    And last, I'm signing up for a 1/2 marathon in April so I need to make sure I get my exercise in.

  41. Oh my goodness! I would so love to go write with the monks! How cool would that be!? Especially since there's a monk in my latest WIP! I could get so much inspiration!

    A pity I don't know of any nearby monasteries that accept weird writer guests who just want to soak up the peace and quiet while they write. Phooey.

    Great post, Sandra! It is so true that you can't have a good day of writing when you're "stewing" about something.

    It is looking like March is not going to be a good writing month for me at all. First, it turns out I'll be going to a church youth convention this weekend, since they didn't have any other woman chaperone to go with the girls. So I won't get any writing done this week after Thursday. Then I will have one of my daughter's friends staying over for about six days while her mother goes on a mission trip, which means extra cleaning (my house so needs it!). And the last week of March is Spring Break, which means my kids will be home, my MIL is coming for a visit, and my mother is insisting we make the more than four-hour drive to visit her--two days and nights, and she has no internet access.

    So ... all that adds up to a very below average writing month, unfortunately. Which is why I really hope y'all will do this again! Some time when I am able to really get into it. I will participate as much as I can and do as much writing as I can. But I'm sad I can't go all out.

  42. Sorry folks, I had to take the pups for their morning walk. They love the park.

    Julie, great project for your hubby. That website will help with directions and dimensions.

    I love that you've used a monastery also. Aren't they great. There's one in Tucson I've been to also. Very peaceful and inspiring.

    Blessing to you also.

  43. Oh Linnette, How inspiring to hear how you coped with your situation. Yes, we all are different and have our own needs and challenges. God does love variety doesn't He?

    What a gift to ignore what's around you. I'm going to have to learn that one.

    Thanks for sharing.

  44. Hey Stephanie, You don't have to wait until March. Go ahead and get a head start. woo hoo.

    I love that you have ideas swirling in your head. A true writer. smile

  45. Hi Janet, so how does that work to have the clutter behind you? I am going to have to try that because really I don't have anywhere else in the house to write.

    Yes, panic is also a deterrent for creativity. We must keep it at bay and only the Lord can do that. smile

    And yes, I'm very thankful this is leap year and we have an extra day. whew!

  46. Jamie, You made me laugh when you said you wouldn't be able to leave the monastery. I know the feeling.

    And kudos to you for getting that writing done in the chaos. I know what you mean about the TV. DH is attached to the blasted thing. I could go for days, weeks and months without it on and figure that is what heaven is going to be for me. chuckle

    His heaven will be surround sound with humongous giant screens all over the place. At least he likes interesting stuff like the history channel and National Goegraphic and Smithsonian channels.

  47. Connie Queen, Wow, I'm impressed. You do have a busy schedule to challenge you. But you are looking at it with a positive attitude so that is what counts.

    I'm with you on the tax thing. I was hoping to get it done today. We get refunds too so there is no excuse. smile

  48. Hi Melanie, You need to google your area. There might be a monastery and it would be a great reward after your hectic month of March. Then you could get caught up on your fabulous writing and since there is a monk, you could write it all off as research. woohoo

    Hey, with all those circumstances, your Speedbo goal will be to get at least some writing in. With that schedule it will be a five star accomplishment. smile

  49. I love this post! We have a huge Franciscan community locally. One of my favorite places for reflection is St. Elizabeth's Motherhouse where retired Franciscan sisters/missionaries pray all day long in their private chapel. I met a sister the other day who worked in the jungles of Brazil since the 1940's. There are so many with fascinating histories who gave up their lives for God. humm-great fodder for a historical.

  50. Hi Elizabeth, Sounds like you're sitting on a treasure chest of stories. wow. And a peaceful place to write besides. Go for it, girl.

  51. You're absolutely right about sugar being the enemy.

    How about a plate of fresh counch fritters, cajun grouper caught next to a reef, salad with honey balsamic vinigreate, and corn bread followed by creamy raspberry yogurt for dessert.

  52. Great post!
    Here's my tip: switch from writing on the computer to writing by hand in a notebook to keep momentum going and change scenery :) There's just something different about fingers on the keyboard and hand holding a pen that may get those words flowing!

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

  53. Elizabeth, I apologize for the drool. Oh my goodness that sounds yummy. I'm in.

  54. Hi Eva Maria, Interesting that you should suggest hand writing. I used to write all my manuscripts by hand. There was a study done several years ago where authors were polled and at that time about half said they wrote by hand and the other half by computer.

    The interesting point they discovered was that those who wrote by hand had less editing to do. They figured the slower process gave you more time to think things through.

    Let us know how it works for you in Speedbo.

  55. Oh and btw writing mine by hand didn't minimize the editing one small bit. LOL

  56. Am I the only one who's had Blogger change the comments page?

    Sorry - random sidetracky thing.

    I so so so wish a desk thingy was possible on an elliptical machine.

    But it's not.

    Ah well.

    I work best when...

    Well, it depends. But usually I have my earbuds in and music going.

    More on all that another day ;).

    Right now... if I'm gonna get anything done before class I better quit fiddling around online ;).

  57. Carol...
    My comments page is different too. I don't like change. Give it back.

  58. Great post, Sandra! I'm not a big chocolate eater (as a snack, anyway), so I won't fuss at you. :)

    (Shhh, don't tell anyone how I love brownies, though.)

  59. Eva...
    I'd love to write by hand but I have a hard time reading my own handwritiing. Sad but true.

    When I first started writing, I used a typewriter. I do think because it was slower and I could see the page slowly emerge into the written word, it was easier and felt like a real novel. No scrolling has its benefits.

  60. I did find a place, Sandra! It's about an hour from my house, a Benedictine monastery! It would be a great place for a writers retreat! :-) http://stbernardretreat.com/

  61. Great ideas here, not just for speedbo, but in all areas of our writing.

    Loved your post Sandra.

    Jodie Wolfe

  62. Carol you are too cute for words.

    Yes, one of the deterrents to creativity and speedbo is THE INTERNET.

    Good luck with that one.

  63. Missy, I won't tell.

    And hey, if you load them with nuts, it helps keep the sugar spike down.

  64. Connie Queen, That is why many of us use the AlphaSmart. It really cuts back on the ability to edit.

    And that helps the creativity move along.

  65. woo hoo Melanie

    Now book it darlin' and give yourself that treat you'll need after your March madness.

  66. Yes Jodie, we need those aides to creativity all year.

    That's what Speedbo is about though--getting us into some good writing habits.

  67. Thank you Sandra! Each time I read one of the Seeker's SPEEDBO-related posts, I feel even more motivated and inspired--you ladies are wonderful. ~ All my life I've felt like if I wasn't doing something "productive" I was wasting time. However, I've found that in my writing, sometimes I just need a brief "do nothing break" (usually only 3-4 minutes). There's always at least one of my cats sitting beside me *grin* so I'll sit and pet his(or her) fur and pray, then clear my mind. It has really helped me! ~ Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

  68. okay, so, today I have a new format showing up for comments. Is this one of those things that shows up differently for different people on different days?

    Anyone else? I hate feeling alone in this strange new land of Blogger comments...

    Thank you Sandra! I am going to have to figure out a daily goal for editing.

  69. Almost down to the eleventh hour. Thanks for this, Sandra. I'm making checklists and checking supplies. Today I'm baking my favourite granola/fruit/nut bars to have on hand for snacks.

    Taking a deep breath and committing to not one, but two March writing endeavours. I've 'stolen' the logos for Speedbo and Denise Jaden's March Madness and will post them on my blog tomorrow with a warning to my readers that I'm disappearing for the month of March. Well, not exactly disappearing, but hunkering down.

    Love the idea of heading out to the RV to write, and think I might do it. I just have to pretend our fifth-wheel *isn't* within range of the house's telephone and wireless reception.

  70. P.S. And Debra, yes, Blogger is showing up for me with a nice neat, new format today.

  71. Hi Patti Jo,

    What a great reminder that pets can really help in calming us down.

    They are also a great inspiration. Waving at May and KC.

    Sharon Wagner, one of the founders of Desert Rose Chapter of RWA always read her manuscripts out loud to her cats. They never criticized. smile

    I talk to my dogs all the time when I'm working out a problem. They are so helpful and listen patiently.

    They say reading your manuscript out loud helps. I keep saying I'm going to do it, but never do. sigh

  72. Hi Debra,

    Several people have commented about the new blogger format. Mine is the same. Maybe it hasn't hit the west yet.

    Hang in there folks. Change is always stressful and is a test for our faith and patience. So I'm told. LOL

  73. Yes, blogger has a new format for me, too.

    I wouldn't mind it except the "collapse comments" button won't work. When I have 70+ comments to scroll through to get to the ones I haven't read yet, I afraid I'm going to miss someone's!

  74. Carol, Congratulations on all of your preparations. Sounds like you will do fine.

    And yes, the fifth wheel will be perfect. Just turn off the wifi and unplug the phone. You will then be "out in the wilderness."

    Hey- not a bad idea for all of us. Unplug the phone and turn off the wifi.

    oops though-we may have stress from withdrawal. LOL

  75. Hey Carol, Can you share with us the recipe for those granola, fruit nut bars? They sound perfect.

  76. Yes, Blogger has changed. Comments are now to the far left, with lots of white space to the right.

    No, I don't like it either.

    Seems I recall something like this happening once before. And tech savvy Tina contacted the Blogger people and FIXED it.

    Oh, TEEEENA!!!!!!!

  77. Whew--glad it's not just me seeing "weird" Blogger formatting today. Is this permanent????

    Sorry, Sandra, but you will not part me from my chocolate! I rarely eat chocolate by itself, though. Usually it's one small piece after a nutritious lunch or supper.

    Or else peanut M&Ms. You know, peanuts = protein.

  78. Whew--glad it's not just me seeing "weird" Blogger formatting today. Is this permanent????

    Sorry, Sandra, but you will not part me from my chocolate! I rarely eat chocolate by itself, though. Usually it's one small piece after a nutritious lunch or supper.

    Or else peanut M&Ms. You know, peanuts = protein.

  79. I have been doing finger flexes to prepare. People think I'm doing finger Taekwondo.

    But it's all for Speedbo. OH yeah.

    I plan on doing some treadmill work, we'll see.

    I would love to head for the Monastery, or the cabin to have some writing time, but i stay pretty quiet in my own home during the days.

    If we'd done this in summer, I'd have a spa for sure. considering the heat offered by Arizona summers.

    I can do it. I can...


  80. My blogger looks weird today and yesterday.

    Change makes me nervous.

    You are all off to the left SIDE. Staring at me.

    I'm frightened.

  81. And Debra Clopton looks good. Too good.

    I might hate her if she wasn't so goldurned nice.

    But I can try.

  82. Oh, no.


    A life without sugar.

    I weep.

  83. I made oatmeal scotchies... I figure the OATS offsets the ????? cups of brown and white sugar.

    And 3 eggs. Rich in protein.

    And 4 1/2 cups of Quaker Oats.

    Obviously I'm on a health kick.

    And hey, you know, Speedbo is relative. A lot of us are full time workers. A lot of us have big families that INVADE OUR SPACE...

    Given that, it's okay to cut yourself slack to make it work for you. It's like a diet. The first few days feel pushy... and then it feels natural.

    And you begin to get TOTALLY PSYCHED BY WHAT YOU'VE ACHIEVED!!!!

    I love that. That makes me grin. When I'm done weeping over no sugar.

  84. My blogger is still the same. I feel left out. But thankful. LOL

    Helen, are you up early?

  85. Okay Myra, You can have your chocolate.

    And yes, M and M peanuts are a great treat because the nuts do help offset the sugar rush.

  86. Tina P, Great idea to do finger flex exercises. Love it.

    And a spa is wonderful. I'm tempted to head over to the YMCA right now.

  87. Great post, Sandra. I really enjoyed learning about the Seekers' writing spots, and I can attest that the main factor is a place without distractions.

    That's why I love my spot in our former garage... I don't see the dishes or housework unless I briefly run in for a pit stop.

    I go to a Benedictine monastery every year, too, as my local writing group meets at St Peter's Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan for a weekend retreat with the option to stay a few days before or after. We write during the day, socialize (optional) at night, and don't have to worry about meals, dishes, or distractions.

    Thanks Sandra.

  88. Oh Boo hoo Ruthy girl. I guess some of us are sweet enough as we are. Hint hint

    And some of us need sweetening up.

    Just saying'

  89. Hi Anita Mae,

    What a great idea to use your garage. I hope its heated this time of year in the far north.

    And you found a monastery too. I'm amazed at how many have used this wonderful resource. Well writers are resourceful. Aren't we? We know a good thing when we find it. smile

  90. Excellent idea to use a stationary bike, Debra!

    I have a treadmill but can't concentrate on it for fear I'll fly off the back - regardless of the speed.

    However, I do have a counter that my old bike will tuck under.

    Thank you, Seekerville!

  91. Sandra, my garage has a furnace, but usually it's much too cold to run it from Dec to end of April. It would be going continually and once the snow comes, the fuel delivery truck wouldn't be able to get to the tank out back.

    This year, however, I'm in here every day even though I shut the furnace off at 5pm and join the family. Hubby turns the heat back on at 6am when he goes to work and by the time I come out at 9, the gunky smell is out of the air so it doesn't clog my throat. Ugh. And so far, I haven't run out of fuel (diesel).

    Thank you God for His many blessings! :D

  92. Sandra, I have bookcases behind my desk. I pile stuff on the shelves and keep the clutter out of my line of vision, at least when I'm working. Once I've turned in a book, I clear the piles, but never get rid of all of them.


  93. Everyone, Kaki Warner, just mentioned I should check out all you wonderful folks at Seekerville since I am a newbie fiction writer. Hee, hee.

    See, y'all are the go-to place now!

    Peace, Julie

  94. You know, I just remembered there's a monastery less than an hour from here! I need to find out if they let people come stay. Will go check into it now!

  95. Missy, if it is the one I am thinking of in your area, it is fabulous. If not, I will try to get the info to you.

    Peace, Julie

  96. I haven't read all the comments, but I learned something VALUABLE today!

    I had a dentist appointment and got dressed for that. Half-way there, I got a call that my appt. had been cancelled, so I came back home (instead of going to the day job).

    I've felt more like a working woman than a slouch since I was DRESSED FOR THE OFFICE instead of sitting around in my housecoat.

    Maybe this will help jumpstart some of us, while it might squelch others. If it sounds like a way to get out of a rut and get motivated, try it.

  97. Julie, whether reader or writer, we love having you here! :)

    I'm SO glad you've decided to write fiction!!

  98. Julie, the one I'm thinking of is in Conyers. I checked it out. They do allow retreats! But I'm not sure if they would be happy about a working retreat. :) It sounds like they want you to use it for a getaway for contemplation and prayer.

    I may call over there and ask them, though.

    Is that the place you were talking about?

  99. Hi! Did you miss me?!
    I have had to go to bed and get up early for the past three weeks or so, like normal people, and my late night lurking had to be put on hold for a while. The project at my job is over and I am back just in time for Speedbo.
    Lent isn't officially celebrated in our Church but it is a good concept. In our town we have Lenten Luncheons and most of the town gets together in a different Church every week for a meal and a talk by one of the preachers. Last week the minister suggested that we would "Take up" rather than 'Give up" for lent.
    This year I have decided to take up Speedbo and finally finish that manuscript I started uptygillion years ago. I will try to write something every day whether it is my blog or my book. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  100. Pam, that's probably a good idea. I get up and stay in my grungy around-the-house clothes until I have to go out. Maybe I should try getting ready in the morning.

  101. Sandra, the granola bar recipe is what my daughter called 'Branola Bars'... sounds healthy but is really, really yummy!


    ~ Boil together 3/4 c. margarine, 3/4 c. wh. sugar, and 1/4 c. corn syrup.
    ~ Then add 1 tsp. baking soda.
    ~ Stir in 1-1/2 c. bran cereal, 1-1/2 c. quick cooking oats, 1/2 c. flour, 3/4 c. coconut, and 1-1/2 c. of any combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. (I like peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, dried cranberries and finely chopped dried apricot.)
    ~ Pat gently into a 9x12 pan
    ~ Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
    ~ Cool, break or cut into chunks and enjoy.

  102. I enjoy writing by hand in a notebook instead of typing, but you can't keep up with your word count. Anyone know a written word to typed ratio?

  103. Yay, Mary Cline! We're glad to see you back and have you "taking up" Speedbo with us! :)

  104. MARY SAID: "The project at my job is over and I am back just in time for Speedbo ... Last week the minister suggested that we would "Take up" rather than 'Give up" for lent. This year I have decided to take up Speedbo and finally finish that manuscript I started uptygillion years ago."

    WHOO-HOO, MARE, good for you, girlfriend and good for your pastor in prompting you to "take up" Speedbo. You won't be sorry, sweetie. And who knows??? Maybe that ms. will be winning contests by next year or even contracted!!


  105. Carol, that branola sounds so good!

    Donna, I have no idea about written words. I do know someone who just waits to count her words when she finally types them in her computer. Maybe you could leave some days at the end of the month to type everything in. :)

  106. Pam and Missy - You've discovered something I've been telling the homeschool moms I mentor for years! When you work at home, you need to treat it like a job. Get up in the morning, get dressed, have breakfast and start your work - whether it's teaching your children, writing, an at home business, whatever.

    If your body stays in its jammies until noon, so will your brain!

  107. CAROL!!! Those "Branola Bars" sound to die for!! Uh ... are you sure they're really good for you??? ;)

    Thanks for the recipe!!


  108. I love the idea of "take up" and "give up"...

    If every one of us took up just a tiny bit of the cross, how much easier would God's job be???

    And if we all gave up one or two things and used that money for good, would we make a difference?


    Many hands, many hearts...


    Sandra thinks I need sweetening????

    Oh, piffle, we KNOW that! :)

    And I'm trying to be good, but I did have to make the oatmeal scotchies. Because oatmeal is good for me.

  109. Sandra, great info to get us ready. Love the monastery idea.

    Missy, I've been on day retreats at Conyers that were lovely. And the food is yummy! Oh my gosh, their fresh asparagus, grown onsite, was to die for!

    Also, a monk lives there who writes reflections. I enjoyed talking to him.

  110. Julie, if you discount the margarine, sugar and corn syrup, everything else in them is pretty healthy, right? Besides, they're a hunger-satisfying snack, and that counts a lot when you're in the midst of a writing frenzy.

  111. Julie, are you a California gal?

    I used to go to Valyermo when we lived at Fort Irwin, CA. St. Andrews Monastery is known for their angel ceramics. Girlfriends and I would pile in my van and leave the desert and head to the hills to buy lovely gifts for friends and family and enjoy a day of peace and relaxation. They had trees, too! And running streams of water. After the desert, it seemed like a real oasis.

  112. Julie, I know you live in the Carolinas now...just thought you were originally from the West Coast.

    Not sure I like the new Blogger format. Hmmm!

  113. Great job with the tips, Sandra.

    Recently, I attended a workshop where a big-time, tons-of-books- on-the-market author spoke about how she's never written a manuscript that she didn't gain 30 pounds. UGH! It was good to hear just because I'd had the same experience! I'd thought I was alone.

    But that ended with my last book published! I will not back-track on the weight I've lost in the past year. I realize the gift I've been given, AGAIN.

    I won't squander it this time, Lord. Promised with thanksgiving and a most grateful heart.

  114. This is really interesting, Sandra. I wrote a blog last week asking if it mattered where you wrote. I've found that for me at least, I need an open space ahead. Writing facing a wall tends to block me. Sounds melodramatic but it's something I noticed.
    Once I'm deeply into a story, it doesn't matter, but if I'm at all hesitant I need to stare off into space.

  115. Wow, just read through all the comments - so much good stuff. Thank you all for your ideas.

    Sandra, my computer has an app for little sticky notes. I'm going to copy this onto one so it's on the screen every time I start to write.
    “I will write every day.”
    “I will find a place to write.”
    “I will finish my novel.”
    “My novel will be published.”

    Re: music - I usually create an instrumental playlist for my books but I've found that when I write in the morning, I play my instrumental church music and it lulls me write into the story.

    I guess I'm sort of like Pavlov's dogs - turn the music on and I write!

    Ruthy - my blogger changed yesterday too - but only here, not at Yankee Belle.

  116. CAROL SAID: "Julie, if you discount the margarine, sugar and corn syrup, everything else in them is pretty healthy, right?"

    LOL ... yeah, I'll give you that, girlfriend!! ;)


  117. LYNDEE!!! Good for you, girl!! Great goal to gain on the pages, not on the weight -- I'm right there with you!


  118. Wonderful post, Sandra! I'm not sure about the lack of chocolate, but I'll try. I certainly agree with Robin about taking exercise breaks--not that I'm good at it. But yesterday my back started killing me. I think it was too much walking in the wrong shoes. I'm still in pain a day later. The more I sit, the worse my back feels. So I'll be sure to watch my health and exercise and stretch during SpeedBo.

  119. Hi Again, Sorry I had to leave for a bit. Family emergency but it is under control now. sigh

    Please give a BIG THANKS TO MY SEEKER SISTERS FOR HELPING OUT, This just shows another reason why I count it a joy and a gift from God that we are all together.

    And it was good that I had written this post because I was able to stay calm and at peace because guess who I turned to FIRST???? So glad I reminded myself in my post chuckle

    Sounds like you all have some super ideas.

    Pammers, I have heard children's book writer say eshe dress up in a suit and tie and goes into his office to work. Says the clothing is like Mary C's Pavlov dog trick only with clothes instead of music.

    MARY C welcome back. We DID miss you. And with great advice too. Best wishes on finishing that manuscript.

    Janet, I am glad the cleared desk works for you. I am going to try it. The problem is --where do I put the stuff on my desk???

  120. Missy, Thank you again for answering my phone call. Your calm voice did much for me and just knowing you were praying did wonders to keep me peaceful. smile

    So did you find out if the monastery near you takes writers? At the Franciscan Renewal Center they don't ask what you are doing there? They just rent the room and let you do what you need to do. They give you a map of the gardens and walks, etc. They do ask if you would like a massage. They have a concessioner service they call.

    Jules, don't those Branola bars sound good? I think they have sugar which makes them so yummy. But lots of grains too.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe Carol J.

  121. Lyndee Congrats on losing the weight. Can you tell I'm jealous? Well not really--well a little bit. Another thing I have to work on. But I feel better with less weight. Don't you? Just wish it would come off as easily as it goes on.

    Debby, Conyers sounds lovely. I should have known you would have found a spiritual retreat already. smile

  122. Oh yes...this was an awesome post! Thank you for the motivation on starting Speedbo! I'm gearing up!

  123. Donna, the way they figure word count per page is take ten pages of your handwritten work and count how many words on each page. Then divide by ten and that will give you a pretty accurate word count.

    Of course it gets all screwed up with lots of dialogue. Some publishers want pages instead of word count for that reason.

    When I wrote by hand I wrote twenty five pages a day which usually ended up being ten typed page. I double spaced when I wrote so that later I would have room to revise and edit.

    Hope this helps.

  124. Mary C,
    I just found Sticky Notes. Ruthy told me about them, and then I read your comment.

    Great minds think alike, right?

  125. Just made my reservations for RWA CA this summer! Trying to be pro-active for a change. Also wanted to get a non-stop flight.

    Sandra and I will be there!

    Anyone else going this year?

  126. Hi Cara, So you are going to sneak in that chocolate. Did you read what I told Ruthy? Some need sweetening up. And some don't. ahem

    Take care of your foot. I'm praying for the pain.

  127. Well I may not have the different blogger yet but it is doing something that is driving me crazy. It is second guessing my words and spelling them for me which I hate because they aren't always the word I want and I have to stop and delete and rewrite. grrrr.

    Anyone else having this problem?

  128. Hi Sherrinda, Glad you're gearing up. Only one more day.

  129. Yay Debby, Glad you got your reservations. woo too

    Glynna and I will be at the Desert Dreams conference in Scottsdale Arizona this April.

    And then Debby and I will be a Nationals. Let us know if you're going to be there so we can set up a meeting place.

  130. Well Folks, Its been a fun time with you all today. I'm off to bed so watch for winners in the weekend edition.

    Best wishes to all of you participating in SPEEDBO

    Way To Go Speedbo

  131. Those are great tips and pointers. Thanks. I've tried the desk and office thing but I usually just end up on my couch or on my bed. Probably not the best for my back but I have a great heating pad that vibrates!!!
    I am very excited to give Speedbo try.
    Good luck to everyone.


  132. These are fantastic tips for Speedbo. Thanks so much!

  133. I'm a little late in posting but I had to say I loved this post! Sure wish we had a Franciscan Renewal Center around my neck of the woods. That would be awesome. Also love the shelf/work station on the treadmill. Now that's clever.

    Tomorrow's the day...I think I'm gonna take the plunge...excited and nervous at the same time!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  134. Thank you. Some invaluable information.

  135. Glad to see you were able to get back Sandra.
    thanks for the encouraging tips today.

  136. Hi, Sandra! I wasn't ignoring your comment yesterday. Had to take care of car stuff and other pressing things. I never did get back here like I planned. Thank you for your loving support!