Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why Challenging Yourself as a Writer Matters

 with guest Sherri Shackelford.


Charles Portis' True Grit.

 “You must pay for everything in this world one way and another. There is nothing free except the Grace of God. You cannot earn that or deserve it.”
Mattie Ross― Charles Portis, True Grit

Growing up in the olden days, there was one television in the house, and that television played whatever my dad wanted to watch. His taste ran to westerns, which made me a de facto expert on all things Yakima Canutt, John Wayne, and John Ford. In one of my favorite westerns, Mattie Ross is looking for a man with ‘true grit.’

I’m sure a lot of us have looked back on a time in our lives and thought, “How did I manage?” I once wrote 30k words in 10 days to meet a deadline. If you had asked me previously if I could write that many words, I would have replied with a resounding ‘no’. I’m a notoriously slow writer. But that’s the thing about grit, you don’t have to be born with it, sometimes you can earn a little grit along the way.




I’m incredibly excited about kicking off this year’s Speedbo challenge at Seekerville!

 Thirty days is a wonderful amount of time to add something new to your life, or to subtract something negative from your life. Much like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), Speedbo is a chance to add words without the interference of that pesky internal editor. 




Which brings us to the question: Why Challenge Yourself as a Writer? Turns out, there’s only one way to earn that grit – you have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You don’t know what you’re capable of doing until you try. (Or until you’re forced. Whatever.)

I became a writer, in part, because of the opera. I was doing some secretarial work for the director of the local opera, and he asked if I’d participate in The Barber of Seville because they needed a non-singing performer at the last minute. It was the most traumatic experience of my life. I don’t read music and I don’t perform. The director yelled at everyone in a foreign language—especially the non-singing, non-performing people. There was a choreographed fight scene. The first night we had an audience and I SAW the crowd, I had an actual out-of-body experience. For the longest split second of my life, NONE OF MY MUSCLES WORKED. About that time, I realized the lead performer was frantically signaling that his wig had come loose. I had to *think on my feet*. A difficult task considering the thinking part of brain had ceased functioning. 

After that, I figured I could do just about anything.  If you can get yelled at in Chinese and still learn a strobe-lit fight scene, participate in an opera when you can’t sing or read music, and replace a wig on stage in front of several hundred people while having a mental collapse, nothing else seems that difficult. That’s why it’s good to challenge yourself. 

When you’re challenging yourself – here are some things to consider. 

Set Deadlines:
This is easy. Speedbo is the month of March. Deadline set!

Set Goals:
Make your goals specific and attainable, but not so difficult that you’re discouraged. Stretch, but don’t try and do the splits on day one. Maybe have three days of regular writing, and push yourself to write double the words on day four. 

Read:
Don’t forget to refill your words! Read outside your genre, challenge yourself to read a classic, re-read your favorite book from childhood and remember why you wanted to become a writer in the first place. 

Don’t Edit:
Your un-edited words are probably better than you think. Being a productive writer means accepting that you’re not perfect. Do you remember the last perfect book you read? Of course you don’t! Writers who strive for perfection never finish. Give yourself permission to be a good writer, not a perfect writer. 


"People often ask me what it takes to be a good writer. The short answer? I don’t know. The slightly longer answer? I don’t know, and I don’t care." Jeff Goins

Step Outside the Box:

If you normally write serious, Russian prose, challenge yourself to add some humor. If you normally write comedy, challenge yourself to add some gravitas. Shake it up! 

Go Public:

Tell people what you’re going to do, and then do that thing. Unashamedly post your amazing accomplishments on Facebook. 

Add by Subtracting:

Give yourself a day off. Have a day where you write ZERO words. Watch terrible television and eat ice cream. Pretend the zombie apocalypse is happening and there’s no internet, no telephone, no television and you can only eat what’s in the pantry. Pick the 10 people you’d want to survive the zombie apocalypse. Pick the 10 people you’d sacrifice. Sleep with your head at the foot of the bed. Do anything *BUT* write or even think about writing. 

Reward Yourself:

This is a tough business. Writing is difficult. If you achieve your goals, give yourself a treat! Take a walk, buy a book, or schedule some time with other writers. This business operates on criticism; give yourself a little love once in a while. 

We need to challenge ourselves because, as Mattie reminds us, nothing in this life is free, and folks don’t just fall up the mountain. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try. 

What is one thing that you did, that you never thought you could do?  Leave a comment below for a chance to win one of three copies of A Temporary Family! And since this is day 1 of Speedbo, feel free to share your gritty goals for March!


“I only take one step at a time. That's why I was given two feet.”  Ranger LeBoeuf, True Grit, by Charles Portis

A Temporary Family

Make-Believe Marriage

When Tilly Hargreaves and her three nieces are stranded at his small stagecoach station in an abandoned town and threatened by outlaws, Nolan West must protect them. And the only way he can do that is by pretending he's married to Tilly. But can the former soldier, whose only wish is for solitude, stop himself from growing attached to his temporary family? 

Tilly knows the charade is necessary to keep her and the girls safe, but now her heart is in danger. The longer she pretends the stoic station agent is her husband, the more genuine their union feels. Nolan believes he's better off alone, but Tilly's certain that if he'd only open his heart to his make-believe family, he'd want to claim them as his for real. 




Sherri Shackelford is an award-winning author of inspirational, Christian romance novels for Harlequin/HarperCollins Publishers. 

A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. She doesn't live on the prairie, but she can see the plains from her house. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul.

189 comments :

  1. I'm watching the clock and waiting for it to be March 1 in Phoenix. So I can wave my checkered flag for Speedbo to begin!!!

    Huge goals for this month. Really excited. How about you??

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  2. Welcome back, Sherri! Love your post, but now I must go watch True Grit again. I recently watched the DUKE in The Cowboys. Such a good movie. Tear jerker.

    Thank you for starting Speedbo this year!!

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    1. Leave it to John Wayne to instantly cure a kid from stuttering! Love that movie.

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    2. The Cowboys is another great film! I actually enjoyed the remake of True Grit. Both films have their bright spots and their flaws :)

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  3. Welcome to Seekerville Sherri! My dad was a HUGE western fan, whether is was TV or books or country music, I was steeped in that as a child. I grew up admiring John Wayne, his grit & determination :-) I later married a man who is a huge John Wayne fan (or western period!), it's like God knew from the beginning who I was to spend my life with ;-)

    About the opera thing; yeah....I wouldn't do so good at it either! Being in front of that many people & feeling like everyone is staring at you would throw me into a tizzy, where I'd either curl up in a ball on the floor, or have that deer-in-the-headlights look and running for my life! What a funny story, I chuckled when I read that..lol! Although, I know it wasn't funny at the time, but I hope you can look back and laugh at it now.

    I'm not a writer, but your points on challenging yourself can apply to all points in a persons life I think. Setting deadlines & goals is what gets me through hectic times. I have a list I make of things that I need to do & when they need done. It definitely keeps me on track and organized! Going public is a little scary for me. Unless you're talking finding an accountability partner, that I can do. Being a private person, I tend to not share things going on in my life when it's really personal. Or I have a difficulty going on or whatnot. The one thing I believe God is trying to teach me is to not isolate myself so much when trails come. I need to "go public" with trusted Christians in my life so they can pray with me, encourage me in God's word, bring to mind what God has done & etc. I realize my church family has my back and won't look down on me at any time :-) Adding and subtracting: Sounds almost like juggling and prioritizing. Kind of goes along with Rewarding Yourself.
    I love this post! Such insightful wisdom....and I know it's aimed mostly at writers here. But like I said, the basic principles can be applied to just about anything else in life.

    I really can't recall anything that I thought I couldn't do but did. This last year though, I think I've been able to go out on a limb more with my faith. Not to say I've ever doubted God or what He can do or not trusted Him always. I'm not sure how to put it where what I'm saying is clear. For example, my husband takes things at God's word. He seems to have more faith in some areas then I do. He tells me a lot "I have faith & belief God will do such and such" or "God will see us through this". Me...I'd almost call myself a doubting Thomas. Not so much the doubting part, but I'm a visual person and I need to see physical proof. God doesn't always give the things I can see with my eyes...so I guess I'd say faith as in knowing what I can't see, God will take care of. Does that make sense? I'm stepping out more in that type of faith and really seeing God in a new light. It's still scary most of the time, but it's getting better :-)

    Please add my name for a copy of "Temporary Family", congrats on the new release! And GO YOU ON SPEEBO!!!!

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    1. Trixi, I love your honesty. And I think you're right, a post like this might be aimed at writers but those strength-building qualities work for so many facets of life, from physical to spiritual, mental and emotional. I think we build our platforms by forging ahead and not quitting. And that's what I see in your wise words, Trixi.

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    2. Absolutely, Trixi! I think the points could apply to any goal in your life. I really enjoyed your comment :)

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  4. Before I began my nursing training I had serious doubts, but I jumped in with both feet and loved it.

    I'd love a copy of TEMPORARY FAMILY thank you.

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    1. Mary Preston, you never told us you were a nurse. Me too!

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    2. Mary, I'm glad you persevered! We need our nurses :)

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  5. Fun question. So many things. Here's one: carried a wooden canoe on a two-mile portage. Accompanied by 50k mosquitos. Couldn't swat any because of course I had my hands full.

    Thanks for a great post.

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    1. Laura Russell!!! That had me laughing out loud and it's one am here. My cats think I am nuts. Love that story.

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    2. That sounds both miserable and empowering, Laura! I love when I can look back and say, "Hey! I did that!! That was me!!"

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    3. That is a fun answer...in hind sight that is! ;) How, may I ask, did you find yourself in that situation? :D Summer camp maybe?

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  6. The one thing I wanted to do but was afraid I couldn't was becoming a Surgical Tech. School was great (straight A's) but the first time I actually assisted a surgeon it was after the previous "student" passed out. But I scrubbed in and got bit by the bug even harder...I loved it and the surgeon was impressed. Unfortunately, that career only lasted six years as my knees and one foot couldn't handle me being on my feet all day.

    I would love to win a copy of your book. I love the cover.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. My sister-in-law is a surgical tech, and she loves her job! She originally started her training as a nurse, and realized she enjoyed surgery most. (Shhhh...don't tell - but she likes that the patients don't talk!)

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    2. Cindy! I had no idea. Good for you. I was a library cataloger for six years. That went kaput because I couldn't stand being locked in a room with no windows with four other geeks.

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  7. Welcome, Sherri! Great post! Working under a deadline has always worked best for me. It seems, the less time I have, the more I get done.
    The one thing I did, that I never thought I could do was have my book published. :)Thanks for visiting today.

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    1. Pshaw. I believed in you THE WHOLE TIME!!!!!! :)

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    2. Congratulations on your debut this month! Your books sounds delightful. (Second Chance Romance. Available NOW on Amazon and at all major outlets.)

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    3. Aw...thanks, Ruthy! And thank you for the mention, Sherri. :)

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  8. Great post, Sherri! I think I am inspired!!

    Most recently I completed the Whole 30--30 days with no sugar, dairy, grains, legumes. Basically I ate fruits and veggies and meat. No gluten. No anything good. And it was hard. But I set a goal that I was going to do it and I did!!!

    After doing that I realized that I did have grit and that if I set a goal for myself I CAN reach it. Thus my getting in on Speedbo again this year even though the last 2 years have been a bust for me. I have been working on the same WIP for several years now and I keep stalling myself. Until this last weekend I hadn't even looked at it since July. What you said about the internal editor is so true. I'm so worried about it being perfect and the best that I scare myself out of finishing it. I'm pretty sure everyone's first MS was not their best. Why do I expect mine to be?

    Anyway, my goal for Speedbo is to double my word count on this thing. I'm at almost 39k and I would like to end the month at 78k+. If I get 1-2k written a day I could totally meet that goal. It will involve some sacrifice on my part. But I really feel like I am willing this time.

    Thank you, Seekers, for another opportunity to set a goal and reach it.

    PS--Another goal I am working on is to run a 5k. I have one I am wanting to do on May 6. I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me!!!

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    1. I think you're amazing. These are great goals, and have you noticed that every time you reach a tough goal, the next one seems more attainable? It's like we build ourselves not on the achievements, but on building strength to persevere. Go you!!!!!!

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    2. I'm getting tired just reading your post! I once gave up sugar and lasted through an episode of Downton Abby. I give you permission to be imperfect :) Go forth and write the best book you can!!

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    3. I want to walk around the block. Yes. It's an impossible goal but I might make it in March.

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    4. Tina - My dad always used to say, "If you're going to dream, you might as well dream big!"

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  9. I love setting goals. I love taking dares. I love commitment. If I could hand out those qualities to every single aspiring author, I would do it in a heartbeat... Sherri, you make it look doable and I hope everyone who reads this gives it a shot... because we have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

    Thanks for the kick-off inspiration. Well done!

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    1. It's the age old argument - If *I* can do this, anyone can!

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    2. Or (and more likely...) If SHE can do it, then I certainly can!!! :)

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  10. Speaking of Westerns.... Glendon Swarthout who wrote "The Shootist" and dozens of other westerns was my cousin. My grandmother was Myrtle Swarthout and Glendon was her cousin. I found this out from a relative who found me because of my writing and recognized my last name because Grandma married Roscoe Herne... Glendon wrote 19 novels, 6 youth books, plays and poetry.... Which makes me laugh because I can see we have the same varied interests! Here's Glendon's website: Glendon Swarthout Western Author

    Who knew that love of Westerns might be an inherited trait????

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  11. SHERRIE, welcome back to Seekerville! Thanks for this rousing and practical post to start off SpeedBo! It may take more than grit to turn off that internal editor. With all the nurses on board, maybe I could get some ether.

    Janet

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  12. SHERRI, not SHERRIE. I need coffee!

    Janet

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    1. I need a mallet for that internal editor sometimes!

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    2. Hate to harm it permanently but you're right, a light rap might get the point across.

      Janet

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  13. "People often ask me what it takes to be a good writer. The short answer? I don’t know. The slightly longer answer? I don’t know, and I don’t care." Jeff Goins

    I love this quote!

    Thanks for giving us permission to write bad. Honestly, with me, there's not much difference between writing fast and trying real hard to write good. The second way just takes longer.

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    1. I have to admit, my sprints aren't much worse than when I agonize over each word! Write the best you can, not perfect :)

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  14. Sherri, thank you for kicking off SpeedBo with such a motivational post. I especially liked where you suggested a day of no writing. During SpeedBo? Yikes! However, now that I'm thinking about it, I might plug in a day in the middle of the month that is a writing free day to recharge.

    My Goals for the month are to write a minimum of one hour a day and write a minimum of 31,000 words for the month. But the biggest goal is to truly turn off my internal editor and just write!!

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    1. You've got this! 31k is a challenge, but it's also totally achievable :) Don't forget to recharge your internal batteries.

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  15. Good Morning, Sherri!

    Great advice. I'm not participating in Speedbo this year. I will spend the month of March revising....one short piece, a devotion then two books, a cozy mystery and middle grade book.

    Good luck to everyone enrolled in Speedbo!

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    1. That's a good month! You've got plenty to keep you busy :) Don't let that internal editor slow you down.

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  16. Sherri! I love hearing from you. Speedbo is going to be amazing this year! I've set my goal at 30,000 words and I have worked on getting details for a new story, that is totally different from what I've written before. One thing I've done that I never thought I could do before is I taught myself to play bass and played with my church's praise team. I could play notes and follow along. I don't like to be up front, I don't like to be seen, lol, so this was so far out of my comfort zone it wasn't funny. But I had so much fun doing it. Then someone who plays bass started coming and I turned it over to him! But I proved to myself I could do it. Let's get this Speedbo party started!

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    1. My oldest son adores performing and is completely at ease in front of a crowd. He did NOT get that from his mother! Best of luck with your goals - you got this :)

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    2. Sally! That is so cool. Congrats.

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    3. Sally... Ginger Solomon has been setting daily goals, too, she's doing the early morning sessions to sneak words in... and it's working! Whatever we need to do (and for me it's not to tame the internal editor, it's to tame my guilt for neglecting ANYONE)... to get it done, let's do it! I'm so proud of you!!!

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  17. Love your kick off to Speedbo, Sherri! My March goal is to write 20k on my WIP. One thing I've done that I didn't think I could do before: run a half marathon. When I focused on the baby steps while training for my first race, I got to the finish line.

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    1. If you can run a marathon, you write 20k easy!!

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  18. Wow Sherri what an energizing post! I am really excited about beginning. I would say that there are lots of things that I didn't know I could do until I did them, but one of the biggest is kind of serious, being a single mom. My son's dad was there for absolutely two things...conception and birth. It was a scary wild ride that I took on as sole provider for 12 years, and then God blessed me with an amazing husband and now I am thrilled to have someone to be by my side. :)

    Other tough things, I never thought I would be able to do NaNoWriMo, but I won on my first try! I pushed hard! Speedbo...this is my second go, but I am ready to fly with my goal of 39,000 words! I'll begin today at lunch!

    Thank you for the encouragement!

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    1. I have the utmost admiration for single parents! I don't know how you manage. Kudos to you and congratulations on finding a wonderful man :)

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  19. HI SHERRI! It's always a great day when you come on....add SPEEDBO and we are SMOKIN' here!

    :)

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    1. Ahh, you guys are always so nice to me. February was my speedbo month. I had a bit of trouble staying focused this winter. Like, a really hard time. I keep urging Cheryl to finish her book about the care and feeding of writers so I can read it and figure out what's wrong with me! (I don't think there are enough pages...)

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  20. I'm diving into Speedbo today.
    Except I'm going to have lunch with Sharee Stover. So that's always energizing. :)
    See you later, Sharee.

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    1. Our pizza place is open again!! Come on down...or up? Head our way, Tina and Sherri!!

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  21. Sherri, welcome back! Oh my goodness, I can only imagine the paralyzing fear you must've felt on stage! And I love your point that we can develop grit. I needed to hear that today. So thank you!

    I'm still laughing at you having to fix that wig in front of all those people while your muscles were frozen! :)

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    1. I'll never forget seeing that audience! They kept assuring me that the lights prevented the actors from seeing faces. NOT TRUE! And this wasn't a small theater - we're talking the local orpheum. Shudder. (And, yes, it's a very funny story that gets funnier the more years that pass :)

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  22. Loved being reminded of my own Dad and his love of Westerns. We just had one TV also so we all watched (and loved) Westerns. Good luck to all involved in trying to achieve your writing goals and ALL of us, no matter our pursuits, need to remember to "keep on keepin' on"!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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  23. I agree with Trixi. These principles apply to all of life because writing is a metaphor for life.
    My goal is to have a draft of my contemporary romance by March 31. it is hard to stop the internal editor. That's where post it notes com in.
    KB

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  24. Sherri, my husband and I went through a John Wayne spree a couple of years ago and I bought him several boxed sets. My favorite is "The Searchers." It's not an "easy" movie but it makes you think.
    KB

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    1. That last scene in The Searchers always gives me chills.

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  25. Hi Sherri. Thanks for starting us off in Speedbo. Probably something I did that I didn't think I could was to become a substitute teacher. I had never thought I could do that, but I did. I also had my doubts about writing a book, but I started one two years ago in Speedbo. Got away from it for a while, but hope to finish it now. My goal is 1,000 words a day.

    Please enter me in the drawing for your book.

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    1. There is a special place in heaven for substitute teachers! I'm in awe of you :)

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  26. I was so excited for SPEEDBO and starting my new story today that I could hardly go to sleep last night. Unfortunately, midnight trips to the basement for tornado warnings made me pretty sleepy this morning, but I can hardly wait to get started.

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    1. Wow, Amber, what a night! Hope all is well in your community!

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    2. Wow! That's crazy. Hope everyone is safe.

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    3. Amber, I saw that!!!! Sending you Ruthy hugs!!!!

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  27. Hi Sherri! One of the things that stands out in my mind is receiving my "Zertifikat" from the Goethe Institute for German proficiency. I had to speak with a panel of five people for an hour and they could bring up any topic under the sun. I crammed so much vocabulary into my head but was so intimidated by the idea of a panel potentially asking me about my thoughts on advancement in medicine, I almost backed out at the last minute.

    That day was the hottest we'd had all year and our meeting was in a converted attic room in the oldest building on campus (with no air conditioning.) I was so nervous and so hot, I was sweating PROFUSELY. Droplets of sweat dripped off the tip of my nose onto the glossy wood table which I casually wiped away with my hand. After about 30 minutes, they said my interview was done. I thought they'd cut it short because they felt badly for me. Two weeks later, my professor announced in front of the class that I had passed with the highest honors. I couldn't believe it.

    More recently, I wrote a novel in three months and that was a remarkable accomplishment as well.

    My goals for Speedbo are to write every day/six days a week for a total of 28,000 words which would put me well over the half-way mark for my WIP.

    I'm kind of an all-or-nothing person and I fall off the wagon for a bit before I regroup and recommit. So, I'm excited for today because I'm recommitting to my writing goals, my eating and exercise goals and my house goals. (Painting and minor repairs.)

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    1. Woo hoo! Guten tag, and good luck on your goals!!

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    2. Gruss Gott to you both!

      Josee, congrats on that oral exam!!! You survived the heat...literally and figuratively. :)

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  28. Glad Speedbo is a month because if it were only today. I would be a failure again. My world is spinning round and round which is not conducive for writing. I will still write when the spinning takes a break. Hopefully the hospital will call and schedule the VNG so we can know what to do. Isn't it also wonderful to know that God knows. Last night I walked hard right into a wall. I didn't even see it with my spinning world. The Lord is good. Wishing everyone a good writing day. This is exactly why I was not too ambitious with my goals and thankful that I will be able to make it up when I do have a good day.

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    1. My thoughts and prayers are with you. You're facing quite a challenge.

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    2. Wrapping you in prayer with Sherri, Wilani. It's tough when our health is compromised. :(

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  29. Hi Sherri! Thanks for kicking off Speedbo so well!

    I'm constantly giving myself challenges and upping the stakes. My most recent challenge (other than Speedbo) is to start a cross stitch design that will take me - literally - years. I blame Erica Vetsch for that one...and she'll get the thanks when I finish it!

    Some of the things I've done that I never thought I could: travel through Europe alone with a backpack and a Eurail card; marry my best friend (I actually told God that one was impossible); teach Latin; finish several quilts...hand quilting (this was before children); graduate four children from our homeschool; climb a mountain - twice so far. And the biggest? To write and finish a book.

    And now Speedbo time is here. I chose a goal that is attainable, but challenging. I'm a slow writer, and 2500 words is about my top limit for a day - my usual word count is 1500. So my goal is 57K - approximately 2500/day, 5 days/week.

    The battle with the housework will have to take a back seat. ;)

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    1. I blame Erica V for a lot of stuff! That girl is far too talented in far too many places. She's making the rest of look bad!!

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  30. Hi Sherri:

    I just loved this statement:

    "You don’t know what you’re capable of doing until you try. (Or until you’re forced. Whatever.)"

    This is why they have obstacle courses in military basic training. They also call them 'confidence builders'. Even our K9 dogs had amazing obstacle courses. I didn't even know dogs could do all those things until I ran them through the courses!

    Back to humans. I remember one terrifying obstacle which involved climbing down the side of a four story building on a rope. I told the instructor, "I can't do that!" And he said, "Oh yes you can. Gravity does most of the work." Sure enough I fell the last two stories! But they wisely had very soft ground to fall on and I got up and ran to the next obstacle.

    Talking about challenging yourself, how in the world did you come up with the plot in "A Temporary Family"? It has to be the most interesting, surprising, and original romance I've read in years...maybe ever! How do you sit down and think up a story like that? Is it 100% pantsered?

    And that cover: so serene and pastoral! Who would ever guess that this is a tension filled hostage drama? Floods, U.S. Calvary, shootings, constant suspense...I'm sure this would have been a Historical Suspense if LI had such a category. Not only were the pages turning themselves, they were turning faster than I could read them. (I do prefer turning the pages myself. :))

    Any way, bottom line, you motivated me to enter Speedbo and try to finish I project I've been working on for years which I didn't finish in my last Speedbo. It seems I'm better with grits than I am with grit.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Vince

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    1. Vince, that is SO nice! Thank you :) That book has already proven quite polarizing, and it releases today. (Check out the early Goodreads reviews.) I'm really, really glad you were on the side of folks who enjoyed the story! I had a fun time writing that book. It takes place in northern Nebraska, one of my favorite parts of the state. It's about 50% plotted, 50% pantsered. I usually have starting point, but sometimes things change along the way...

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  31. Hi Tina:

    Would you please enter me in Speedbo? It will be a Speedbo Redux.

    BTW: I used Google to find the rigth website, signed up for your newsletter, had my email verification rejected twice, but this morning an email arrived confirming I'm on your mailing list. So March has come in like a successful lion.

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  32. Hi, Sherri.

    I love the cover of your book!

    My grandmother raised my brothers and I back in the 50's. She was a good Christian woman, very wise,and one I aspired to be like. She always told us: "There are going to be a lot of things in life you're not going to want to do. Do them anyway." I think for me, spending two years in a children's home, and being separated from my older and younger brothers was one of the most challenging things to happen to a twelve-year-old girl in the 60's. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

    Thanks for this very encouraging article. I'm at the starting line...

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    1. Marcia Scott! Good for you for posting AND Speedboing! Oh, my goodness. So sorry you had to endure that.

      I'm starting a new series for Harlequin Love Inspired about three siblings separated in a foster care who come together to start an orphan ranch. God Bless you, sweetie.

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    2. Gracious, Marcia, you've been through a lot. I hope you were able to stay in contact with your siblings. I'm sorry that happened to your family.

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    3. Tina, if you need any "inside" information, don't hesitate to ask. Sherri, my brothers and I remain very close to this day. I don't know what I'd do without them. My parents divorced when we were young (4,6 and 8), so we were probably among the original "latch-key kids of the 50's!) Thanks so much for your concern.

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  33. Hi Sherri, thanks for a great kick-off to Speedbo! I've challenged myself to 40K words although I don't need all of those words to finish my WIP, I'll use any extra room on plotting out book 2. This is going to really stretch me and I *need* to turn off that internal editor and whack him in the head. :) The hardest thing I've ever done was quit smoking cold turkey. That was in the days before nicotine patches or I would've done it that way, but the Lord helped me overcome the addiction. He is faithful!

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  34. Yay, bring it on. Really excited for Speedbo this year, even if my publisher tried to throw off my groove by sending me galleys to get through by the 8th! I take a break from those with building my word count. As for grit, that the one thing I learned about writing with kids. I took four years off when I had first. It was painful to get back into it a couple years ago, but so rewarding. Now I have three kids and another on the way and writing is going good (though slightly nervous on how #4 will fit into the equation with homeschooling. ;) Lots of fun...and grit.

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    1. I don't know how people write with small children. My youngest was two when I started, and I worked part time. It took me a year to finish a book. My admiration goes to all the folks who can juggle family and writing :)

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  35. Wow, Sherri, 30,000 words in ten days? Just wow! I want to be like you when I grow up. :-)

    I haven't signed up for Speedbo because I'm working on something a little different, feeling desperate to get it done, but I'm just not sure what I can get done in March because I've never done this before. I should probably just pick a goal and get going.

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    1. You can pick an easy goal. I give you permission! You don't have to make yourself crazy ;0

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  36. Good morning, Sherri!

    Thanks for kicking off our 2017 Speedbo event. Deadlines work for me, but not deadlines that I set. It works best if I have a contest deadline. It's good practice for the real thing.

    Your latest release looks amazing. I can't wait to read it. See you on the other side of Speedbo!

    ~ Renee

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    1. I'm with ya! When I set personal deadlines, I tend to procrastinate. I need the hounds nipping at my heels or I'll never finish anything. The very first book I ever finished was because I had a 'request for a full' due to the Genesis contest.

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  37. I'm in for Speedbo again this year. Goals: Research and plot out a new novella, write at least 10k words, watch a couple of good John Wayne flicks, starting with The Quiet Man. Yeah, I know, not a western, but it's my favorite. :)

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    1. Oh, I loved The Quiet Man! Fun seeing John Wayne in a not-so-typical setting for him!

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    2. Pegg Thomas, drop an email to Seekers@Seekerville.net and I will send you your badge and certificate.

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    3. The quiet man has SUCH a perfect plot. The conflict is impeccable.

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    4. I have never seen this movie!!!

      I love the Duke.

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  38. Great post, Sherri! I so appreciate the reminders that 1) we need to challenge ourselves and 2) we need to give ourselves some grace in the midst of developing grit. Such wise advice!

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    1. :) You're going to have a fabulous, productive month - whatever your goals.

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  39. Excellent motivational post, Sherri! Thanks so much for helping us kick off #Speedbo17 today!

    My #1 goal is to complete my next Love Inspired ms. so it has time to chill before I dive into revisions. I'm also doing some mental planning for my next proposal. If all goes well with the current ms., I hope to begin actually writing the proposal.

    Really thinking about that "Give yourself a day off" tip. Taking a "mental health" day after completing my wip sounds like just what the doctor ordered!

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    1. I always rush my deadlines. My goal for this year is giving myself 'chill' time!

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    2. I have too many deadlines this year to chill. But now that I have that word in the back of my brain I can shoot for 2018 for chill time. Doing zero conferences this year. So I will have earned a conference in 2018. Are you attending any?

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  40. You got off FB, Sherri! I am so impressed. You only have an author page. I am doubly impressed. I want to challenge myself to do that.

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    1. Oh, Tina. It wasn't easy. It took me three tries, but I'm almost completely weaned now ;)

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  41. Wonderful post! I'm trying something new for Speedbo and having fun! This year I've set a goal and a plan to reach it. I've written 1039 words this morning and sure hope I can keep it up. Going to a writer's conference this weekend so writing will be a challenge. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration! BTW, love the Charles Portis quote. That could almost be the theme for my new story. :)

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    1. Woot woot! You're starting out the month with a bang!!

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  42. Love the cover of your new release. How many books are in this series?

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    1. There are seven books in the Prairie Courtships series, two books (going on three) in the Cowboy Creek series - and I'm kicking off a new series entitled Montana Courtship. Finishing up the book today!!

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  43. If I'm doing a marathon writing session aka Speedbo or NANOWriMo, I will sometimes take a break if I meet the halfway point, and go back and do some line editing or fix a couple of things I flagged with the Post-Its. I never do a major rewrite at that stage, but I will go back and tweak a little. This is because if I don't, it nags at me. Then I can go full steam ahead on the other half. Or stumble. Or crawl. Anyway, it's my opinion that a little light editing halfway through won't break you as long as you get back to writing. My opinion only, and only if I (or you) can do it and not stray too far from the goal.
    KB

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    1. Sounds like you have a method that works! That's what we're all striving for. To be perfectly honest - I don't write 'drafts'. I write and edit along the way. I can't get too far ahead of myself on sprints or I lose focus.

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  44. I never thought I could walk a zip line several stories above the forest floor at Mount Herman, but I did it and felt incredibly brave and worthy for about an hour afterward. My hubby helped by fluttering around on the ground below, stuttering "Hold on, honey, hold on!" (Love that man.) My SPEEDBO goals - write 500 words per day, 5 days per week, and list 50 people I'd sacrifice to the Zombie Apocalypse.

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    1. Whoa! You've earned my admiration! That sounds amazing.

      I like your goals and I like your style :)

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  45. Well I've got almost 600 of my 1500 (hopefully) words so far. It's a little heavy on the introspection, but...no editor, right? I can always move it or cut it later. I'm curious to know how many people spent the days prior to Speedbo brainstorming or outlining and how many are just going completely on the fly. After last year's aimless panstering, I've decided it's not a bad thing to spend a little extra time contemplating where a story is going before I just start writing, even though sometimes that seems like the only way to come up with some new ideas. I'm cheating a little this year because my story is a rewrite. I have basic plot points I'm trying to hit from the last draft, and I know the essence of the characters, etc, but mostly it's a complete redo. Well, thanks for the post, Sherri and Happy Speedboing one and all!

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    1. Good for you, Lara. You know even with a synopsis written ahead of time, I feel like I am totally writing into the mist until I hit chapter 5. Then finally things settle in.

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    2. Lara, I prepared by reading many of the posts, tips and tricks I've printed out over the years. Refreshing my mind with do's and dont's just might calm the inner editor in me. In between all that non-fiction I read lots of fiction pertaining to the kind of book I want to finish during Speedbo.

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    3. Marcia, That sounds like a good strategy. Since I'm trying to fix plot holes, bolster character GMCs, and enhance the characterization, I spent the last several weeks reading craft books, namely, K.M. Weiland's Structuring Your Novel book, the introductions on the Positive and Negative Trait Thesauruses, and Weiland's "Creating Character Arcs," which I'm still in the process of reading. Those books have helped a lot in trying to decide how to tackle the rewrite. I might've made my daily word count too high to allow me much time to keep that up, but if I feel I'm spinning my wheels, I'll take a step back and work some more on the planning. :-)

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  46. I'm in the middle of this kind of STRETCHING and I, in turn, surprise myself and wonder why I did this to myself. But it's all a season of growth. It's a bit easier to do if you're a little obsessive, too! Thanks Sherri! A nice kickoff for Speedbo!

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    1. Ha! I'm always wondering why I get myself into jams.

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  47. Well done, Sherri!

    I think I really needed to hear that good vs perfect part today, thank you :)

    It's amazing the things we can do that we didn't think we could... I'm actually writing about mine as part of Speedbo so it's kind of secret until the story is accepted or rejected :) Hope I still get an entry for your book giveaway though :) Oh here's one - posting public comments on Seekerville! I think it took me a year of lurking to get up the courage for that :) And you're some of the nicest people on earth!

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. The Seekers are the best!! I can't wait to read about your challenges :)

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  48. I never thought I could do NaNoWriMo. The first time I did it, I "won." I was amazed that I could write that much in one month. It fueled me the rest of the year and helped me make more realistic goals for myself. Love your idea of a zero day. I usually make the weekends my zero days. :)

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    1. Congratulations on Nano. That's an amazing accomplishment!! I think it's good to have a day off and reset your brain. Cheryl St.John taught me that!

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  49. Thanks for the great article! Going to write at least an hour, although it's my birthday and I feel like napping and eating sweets. I can do this!

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  50. True Grit is a great example, Sherri, so thanks for using it in your post.

    I have accomplished too many things to list since I balk first and then do them, although not always well. Like singing. If I'm asked to sing by someone who knows me, they're in dire straights indeed and I will do my best. 'Nuff said.

    So I signed up for Speedbo where I'll be completing the LIH wip I started for last year's Manuscript Matchmaker. Too many things got in the way then, but not now. However, I edit as I go since my NaNoWriMo experience taught me that I abhor editing to that extent. For me, a cleaner manuscript from the get go saves time in the long run.

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    1. hi Anita!
      Hugs to you. I love your writing, cheering you on for finishing that LIH.

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    2. Anita Mae, I've missed seeing you! Hope all is well. Yesterday's post was about Canada. Did you see it, by chance? Great info and discussion! :)

      Of course, every Seekerville blog is wonderful, eh?

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    3. Cheering for your continued success!!!!

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    4. DebH and Debby, yes, I saw yesterday's post and answered it, albeit today. I waved at Deb, too. :) And yes, every Seekerville post is wonderful. Y'all still laugh at me when I say eh, eh. Ha!

      Thanks, Sherri.

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  51. Hi Sherri
    This is a great post. The hardest thing I've done is spend eight months in a foreign country basically by myself (although doing an internship at a church there).
    My goal for SPEEDBO is to get back into the habit of writing (I've got an active 7-year old boy who demands mommy time). Since I appear to have a talent for flash fiction, I'm setting a daily goal of 500 words in the hopes I'll blurp out something worthy of submission to flash fiction mags/contests.

    I have Temporary Family on preorder because I love your blurb.

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    1. I bet that experiencing was AMAZING!!! Here's to your speedbo success :) Cheers!!

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  52. Love this Sherri! What a great way to kick off Speedbo! I've set a goal of writing 1,000 words per day. So far, so good :-) Thank you for the encouragement! Happy Writing, Everyone!

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    1. You got this! Pshaw. Cheering your continued success :)

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  53. Sherri, I always love your posts! This one is packed with truisms!!!

    BTW, you mentioned having one TV as a girl. I tell my kids that I was the remote control. If my father wanted the channel changed, he'd say, "Debby, change the channel." Being a good child, I always obeyed! :)

    I'm dating myself, no doubt.

    I lived in Japan when I was young. We didn't have American TV so all the kids went to the SAT matinee on post. A huge theater all filled with children! And the matinee was always a cowboy movie!!! Lots of cheers for the good guys who always wore white hats!

    Many years later, as a mom of three, we moved to the Mojave Desert. Victorville was the nearest town in which to shop. It also was the home of the Roy Rogers' Museum. I thought my kids would want to go, but they didn't even know who Roy Rogers was! Of course, I clued them in! Dale Evans came to our desert outpost for a ladies' function. I got to have lunch with her. Such a delightful lady!

    Okay...enough about the Ole West!

    I wrote a book in a month. I had plotted the story and submitted the proposal, but by that point, my deadline loomed only a month away. I made my goal...although I hope I never have to push quite so hard. :)

    Happy Speedbo! Happy Ash Wednesday too!

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    1. DEBBY, you ate lunch with Dale Evans! Wow, how fun! We had one TV and cowboy shows were my favorite. That went on for years and years. Actually I never stopped loving the cowboys.

      Janet

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    2. I grew up with all the stories about the Ole West and still love hearing about that time in our nation's history. I don't think today's youth have that same appreciation for how the West was won! :)

      Dale and Roy had a ranch in Apple Valley, CA, which was about an hour and thirty minutes from Fort Irwin where we lived, in the desert. They had a wrought iron fence with his name on the gate. Maybe it said Dale Evans too. I can't remember. Roy had died some years earlier and Dale came to speak to our ladies of the chapel group. She was so charming. We all fell in love with her!

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  54. Shhh...don't tell anyone, but I just wrote a book in a month. The deadline was looming and what I had written up until that point wasn't working. I kept thinking, "How can I be this stupid on book TEN???!!!" By book 10, authors should have their stuff figured, out you know? (I also changed the channel! Memories...)

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    1. We're both dating ourselves.

      I had problems with the story, as well, Sherri. The characters just weren't being forthright! :)

      As you mentioned, a deadline helps one achieve amazing feats! :)

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  55. SHERRI!!! I just LOVE IT when you post, girlfriend, because you always make me laugh! The opera story was hysterical, and I actually wanted to know more, so maybe you can write a book about it??

    EXCELLENT POINTS, ALL!! And one of the pluses in pushing yourself during Speedbo is it's a deposit in the bank of confidence.

    YOU SAID: "I once wrote 30k words in 10 days to meet a deadline.

    That experience made you KNOW that you could do it when push comes to shove, so voila! Your confidence bank account just got richer.

    I wrote my second novel -- A Passion Redeemed, 480 pages -- in about two months while working part-time. Now every time I say that, I think -- did I realllly do that? But I'm pretty sure I did, which would be equivalent to your 30K in ten days. And I gotta tell you, every single time I think I can't meet a deadline or get a book or novella written in a certain amount of time, I remember book 2. True, it was my FAVORITE book to write in the DOB series because I loved the characters, and yes, that was when my family coined the term, "Mom's zombie phase," because I would literally write all night until 5:30 AM on several occasions, which I don't recommend. But you know what? I now know it IS doable, and for me that's money in the confidence bank, if not the actual bank! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  56. JULIE, I'm awed! Wow, just wow.

    Janet

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  57. Hi Sheri and welcome to Seekerville. What a great motivational post for us today. Yay Speedbo. You really know how to start it off. Thanks. I hope you enjoy your day. Happy speed writing.

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  58. Congrats to tall the Speedbo writers. Go, go, go.

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  59. One thing that I did that I never thought I'd do? That's easy. I finished my second book.

    I had my first book written in six months, it was actually relatively easy (though the revisions were torture). Then I started my second book thinking it would be just as easy. That optimism was quickly replaced by despair as I realized just how hard this book was going to be to write. Two years later and I was certain that there was no way I would ever be able to finish it. I was beginning to think that my first book was just beginners' luck, and I was seriously reconsidering my vocation choice.

    But I persevered and finished it.

    Of course it was only after I finished it that I realized why it had been so hard to write. MY second book was over 130,000 words, that's nearly 80,000 words more than my first book was.

    My gritty goals in Speedbo is I want to get my third book written (which will probably be another 130,000 worder) or at least a good chunk done this month. I got my school all done by twelve today and so was able focus simply on writing. I got the chapter I was working on done, so happy dance. I wonder if I'll be able to finish the rest of this incident today too...

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    1. I'm bowing to you! I struggle to reach 70k on my books. Well done, Nicki!!

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  60. Hi Sheri! I'm still laughing about picking 10 people I'd sacrifice for the zombie apocalypse. Should I have the names alphabetized? Set by geographical location? Sorry...having way too much fun with that one! Giggle.

    I'm diving into Speedbo and praying I can finish a couple of books that are half-done.

    The thing I did that I didn't think I could do? Complete the proposal for one of my books. The guidelines seemed daunting but it's done and I'm working on the next.

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    1. Congratulations on working through those proposal difficulties! Now, for the zombie apocalypse..

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  61. Hi Sherri, thanks for the pep talk as we start Speedbo. I loved True Grit, and I'll keep your post in mind as I push to finish my story this month. Thanks!

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    1. Mattie is one of my favorite characters <3

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  62. Hi Sherri, Great advice! I'm looking forward to putting it to good use!

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    1. LeAnne, Congratulations on your debut release today!

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  63. Great to see you here, Sherri. Thanks for the energizing post. Thirty years ago I drove my kids through major cities for soccer tournaments. Only the Lord did that...I have yet to drive I-80 from Omaha to Iowa.
    My Speedbo goal is 5,000 words a week. Made my thousand for today. Press on, all you driven writers!!

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    1. That's one of those, "How did I do that?" moments. I'm born and raised in Nebraska, and I drove San Francisco and LA - both at rush hour. Before GPS. My knuckles were *white* on the steering wheel. LA folks are like, 'whatever'. But for a country girl, that was traumatic ;)

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  64. Sherri, I must leave for Citizen Police Academy! Thank you for kicking Speedbo off with a BANG!

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  65. Just stopping by to say hello, Sherri! Great post! I love westerns....good thing I MARRIED a Western :) LOL I already have your book, as you know so don't put me in the drawing but just wanted to stop by and say howdy!

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    1. Hello Valri! I always like to see a friendly face :)

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  66. I'm late, but oh....this is a great way to start Speedbo. I absolutely loved your experience with the opera and the "grit" you found in the process! Oh my...you are brave.

    The thing I thought I couldn't do is finish a manuscript, but I did! It had been a dream of mine since I was 16 years old. (a loooong time ago!). My Speedbo goal is to revise and edit and chop and rewrite it until it is not quite so embarrassing. :)

    Congratulations on your new book! The cover is lovely and I love description. I sounds like my kind of book!

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    1. Congratulations on finishing a manuscript and best of luck on speedbo!!

      I wrote 'The End' on my 10th book yesterday. Every time I write those two words, I think - I can't believe I just did that!

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  67. Thanks for a fun and encouraging start to Speedbo. I set a small goal for each day so I could actually make it this year. I was overly ambitious last year and frustrated myself. I'm happy to say I made my goal today. I love the premise for your new book. It looks like a great story! Please throw my name in the drawing. Blessings.

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    1. There's nothing wrong with setting *achievable* goals. Best of luck! You'll do wonderful :)

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  68. I'm REALLY late to the game today but super excited for Speedbo! I'm going to push myself and shoot for 1500 words/day to finish out one WIP and dive head-long into (mostly) pantsing a new one... which is going to be a challenge for this usual plotter! Hopefully I don't fall flat on my face! :)

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    1. Ooooh, that sounds exciting! Here's to an amazing and productive month :)

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  69. What's something you did that you never thought you could do? I took an adult tap/jazz class and performed with my class at the end of the year.

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  70. Well, today didn't really work out as planned. Long day at work and life complications. But I'm heading in now for an hour or so of work.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Sherry. I tend not to stretch myself too far in my writing because writing is my happy time either before or after the day job. But this month is different. This is Speedbo!

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    1. Building your writing stamina is a fabulous goal!!

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  71. Sherrie, Thanks for the great post on challenging yourself.

    In one part, you wrote about reading a book from your childhood. I recently found out my favorite book from 2nd or 3rd grade is now available on Kindle so I bought it and am reading it.

    As far as not knowing what I was capable of, hmm. I have to think about that. Mentally, I guess graduating from law school. Physically, not really sure. I've done white water rafting on class 4 and 5 rapids so I'll go with that.

    March goals include editing. Last month was my 50000 words in one month while one manuscript stayed in the drawer so I'd have fresh eyes, and boy, did that help as I worked on editing chapter one today.

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    1. It is so much fun to find books you read from childhood! I have most of my books still, but many of them are no longer in print for some reason. :( So when I find 'the missing copy' of a story in a series, I celebrate. :)

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    2. Wow! Just, wow! Law school is huge, 50k in a month is huge. Will you be my life coach?!

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  72. My goal is 25,000 words, and so far I'm 2,022 words in ... although I'm in New Zealand, which means it's already afternoon on the 2nd here. I guess that gives me an unfair advantage. Although it also means my deadline comes first!

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    1. Jealous! I watch a show called the Brokenwood Mysteries because the scenery is gorgeous! You're going to make that goal :)

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  73. I thought I could never be a single parent, but God gave me the strength when I needed to do it.

    I finished half of my Speedbo goal today. Now I need to get the other half done. :) Thanks for the motivating post.

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    1. I'm in awe of single parents! Excellent start on your goals!!

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  74. My goal for this month is to finish a rough draft on my novel "A bride for Don Luis" I'm so excited to start speedbo yay.

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  75. This post is so full of quotable sentences! I especially needed the ones about refilling the words and not being perfect! Wish I could memorize all of this post, but my brain power isn't that hot right now. Guess I won't know if I don't try, huh? ;)

    As for something I never thought I could do, a few years ago I let a teenager talk me into grabbling, or "noodling" as some people call it, where you fish in a pond or lake, underwater...with your bare hands. It was a defining moment for me, since one one of my greatest fears is getting into dark water I can't see through. We went in the daytime, but the water was murky, so the guide had to instruct me by tapping my goggles and pulling my hand. Going twelve feet underwater to pull a catfish out of his house was definitely a moment I'll never forget. :)

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    1. Wow, Natalie! Way to face your fears. You're my hero <3

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  76. Just the encouragement I needed to begin Speedbo.

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  77. Awesome start to Speedbo - I laughed with glee when I saw John Wayne references because 1. I think westerns are grand (especially John Wayne westerns) and 2. I’ve been watching a new collection of westerns over the past two weeks!? (These are Gene Autry movies I got for Christmas).

    Setting Goals - that is something I am charging full speed ahead toward. I started yesterday and made the goals for my non-fiction writing and today and tomorrow I’m working on my fiction goals. It has made a HUGE difference so far in my non-fiction track.

    Read - Amen! I’m reading some fun mini books in my devo time and I’m reading Rocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina for my fiction refill. ;) (Wishbone just got his tail stepped on by one of those city slickers. :p)

    STOP EDITING - best thing I’ve done yet. Do you know how much faster you can write when you stop editing yourself?! Golly.


    As for the question. Hm. I’m not thinking of an answer exactly. But there have been several things I’ve been able to do this year that really have me smiling (and in several ways, they’ve given me some fun directions to work toward this year.)

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    1. Sounds like you've already got a great start! May 2017 be even better than 2016!!

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  78. This is my first time to be a part of Speedbo, and I am so excited! This is exactly what I needed right now...a deadline! And I love this reminder: Don’t Edit: Your un-edited words are probably better than you think. Being a productive writer means accepting that you’re not perfect. Do you remember the last perfect book you read? Of course you don’t! Writers who strive for perfection never finish. Give yourself permission to be a good writer, not a perfect writer.

    I think that is where I falter sometimes. I edit too long and too much, because I feel like my writing could always be better. I look forward to connecting with other writers and authors this month.

    Oh, one thing I thought I would never do...earn my Masters in English. :) Happy reading and writing!

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  79. A Masters?! That's awesome! I'm convinced perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. We should always write the *best* we can, but perfection is an elusive goal.

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