Friday, January 5, 2018

Where Have All The Words Gone?

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

Pretty sweet, right?







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

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

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

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

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



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

I got to work.

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

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

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



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

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

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




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

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




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

Now, to the point of my story.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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


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

135 comments:

  1. Audra, thank you. God sure knows what He's doing when He gave you this post to write and post today.

    You said, "When you pray for guidance, LISTEN to the response you get. Sometimes those “blank word” times are God’s way of telling his children to stop and rest - He's got plans for you."

    I believe that. I trust that but sometimes I forget. Sometimes I'm all about my schedule. Sometimes I let it run me around. Sometimes (ok, most of the time) I just wasn't listening. It was only after a respiratory infection, and then a sprained shoulder and wrist, plus some snow storms that I stopped and rest. And then, listened. I'm still listening, and I'm hearing it. Plans. His plans, not mine. Thank you.

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    1. Oh, if only we all had that wisdom to stop and listen... I've been guilty of not doing that far too often.

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    2. Isn't it so easy to hear what we want to hear? Of course, couple that with a healthy dose of Lutheran Guilt (my personal flavor, LOL) and all you hear is You're Not Doing Enough! Oh my. I don't wish that on anyone!!

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    3. Oh my goodness, yes, Audra! I often hear what I want to hear. And then I worry that I "heard" wrong. Usually, that happens when I'm being impatient.

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    4. Audra, I have childhood Catholic guilt, adult Protestant guilt, and I was raised in the 1950s by parents in the immigrant community. I can only imagine what Lutheran guilt is like. The Lord did tell us to come apart and Rest For A While, but sometimes that voice is hard to hear.
      My personal benchmark is if the writing ever hurts my family, friends and spiritual life, it's time to fold. So far, we're making it work.
      KB

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  2. Hi Audra:

    If 'writers block' were an addiction, I would say that you'd struggled until you hit bottom and then you began following the 12 steps. It works for all kinds of addiction. Why not for 'writer's block'?

    Could you have done this without even knowing it?

    Metaphorically speaking, of course. :)

    Vince

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    1. I hadn't thought of it that way, Vince, but you're absolutely right. After you've exhausted all your own resources, finally, FINALLY, you turn to the expert for help...in this case, God.

      BTW, nice to see you!

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  3. Audra, what a perfectly wonderful and far-reaching post. And I'm here to say that it is hard to juggle family, faith, jobs, home, writing and not kill someone.

    I say that in jest, but the reality is that time is finite. Plugging into that time are so many spokes of the wheel that it takes a lot of RPMs to keep it flowing.

    And I went through seasons of my life where I so badly wanted to write, I felt like it was my destiny, and I wanted to thwart responsibilities... but I couldn't. There were kids to raise. Bills to pay. And then finally, writing time. But I was nearly 50 before that happened. That's a lot of years of patiently being impatient, trusting on the Lord, believing the destiny with no means to fulfill it.

    So now we're a decade later and wonderful things have happened...

    And I see that for you.

    The time has to be right or we're like chaff in the wind, being blown around.

    I'm so proud of you and happy for you!!!!!

    Keep those stories coming. I love 'em!!!

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  4. And by the way, that is the BEST PICTURE of you!!!! I love it!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Ruthy! Spur of the moment, my friend Leslie took it at the Cheesecake Factory over our after Christmas lunch. On her iPhone. Who needs professional head shots...well, I guess we do, but isn't this one more fun??

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    2. Audra, it's so truly you!!! I love it, that beautiful smile that I miss so much!!!!

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  5. Hi Audra! Thank you for this post. It truly spoke to my heart. About two years ago all my ideas dried up, I couldn't even remember some of the really good ones. It was a new season the Lord took me through as a caregiver for my Mom. Now that she has passed I'm still in a season of 'dealing' with things that still need to be taken care of since she passed. I'm praying that once I'm through this season, the ideas will flow again and God will guide me all the way.

    You are so right about LISTENING, prayer was never meant to be one-sided. We pray, praise and then listen. For me I never end a prayer without praising Him. Even though I'm not writing now, I praise Him for the words to come.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Cindy, I'm wrapping you in a huge hug, whether you realize it or not. So sorry for the stress you're going through. Those seasons of our lives are never easy nor enjoyable, but they are necessary. If there's one thing I"ve learned over the past few years is to NOT beat yourself up over it.

      My new mantra is God Knows What He's Doing. Do we trust Him or not?? Always a difficult question.

      Thanks for sharing, Cindy!!

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    2. Cindy, I love that you're praising Him for the words to come. I LOVE that and will claim that for myself, too!

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    3. My friend (yes, I have ONE FRIEND!) always called the rough patches the character-building moments of our lives and I've kind of clung to that. If we learn to persevere then we face the next crisis stronger. Braver. More fiercely forged. Like Laura Story's "Blessings" about how the rough times are really the blessings that make us stronger... I love that song.

      BLESSINGS BY LAURA STORY

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    4. Hi Audra:

      You wrote:

      "My new mantra is God Knows What He's Doing. Do we trust Him or not?? Always a difficult question."

      I don't believe that it is ever a question of trusting God but rather a question of trusting our interpretation of what God wants us to do.

      I think we cause a lot of problems when we try to divine God's specific plans for our life. The big picture is simple: God wants us to lead a moral life, do the right thing, and get into heaven where we will share with Him an everlasting happiness. As for all the business of daily living, God gave us freewill.


      I also believe that the words are always out there. The problem is that sometimes we lack the courage to go where the words lead us. I think that sometimes writers can be like the drunk who is looking for his lost car keys under the street lamp -- not because that is where he dropped them but because that is where the light is. Sometimes we have to go into the scary darkness.

      We can change our lives by changing the metaphors we live by.

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  6. Thank you Audra. Your journey is one we can find inspiration from as we go through life. God can help us in the most despairing situations if we just give Him a chance.

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    1. You know, Bettie, you're absolutely right. BUT, I also have to give so much credit to my Seeker sisters. So many times I wanted to bow out and they wouldn't let me go. They had faith in me, too.

      I've truly been blessed a hundred-fold.

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    2. Audra, we knew you'd be back eventually when the time was right. :)

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  7. Good morning, Audra! Thank you for sharing your writing journey--with its God-ordained detour!

    As you know, years ago following a time of great success in unpubbed writing contests, I suddenly became extremely ill. The future was uncertain. But even as my body healed and I longed to write, the words didn't come--for YEARS. Oh, I read books and articles on the writing craft, I took writing workshops on-line. My heart cried out to put words on the page. But nothing came. It was as if my previously bubbling imagination and creativity had taken flight. Akin to pressing the gas pedal to the floor--and not moving so much as an inch.

    It was a long, dry season. A time of soul-searching. A time of LISTENING while all the while a blank page stared me in the face. Was the writing dream to be only that? A dream that I was to lay down and walk away from?

    Eventually, however, the words did start to trickle in ever so slowly...along with a growing sense that it was TIME. I garnered the courage to send some revised opening chapters to contests--and in the winners circles I repeatedly bumped into all of you wonderful ladies who would soon join together to become the Seekers. :)

    Gradually my imagination again started to soar, character "voices" whispered in my ear, the words flowed in earnest...joy in writing returned. Unbelievably, in the first contest in which I entered a totally brand new story, it won first place--and was published with Love Inspired the following year. Now here I am, 14 published books later.

    While those dry, discouraging years were no fun and I had no idea if God would restore that part of life that had been ME since childhood--in looking back, I see how He used that time to develop my skills as a writer and deepen the stories He wants me to tell.

    I'm so thankful you listened closely during that desert time, Audra, and that the joy of writing has returned to you! Welcome back, my friend!

    The

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    1. Glynna, our hearts have traveled down the same road. Bless you, my friend. Though my road hasn't been anywhere near as rocky as yours, we've both learned that no amount of effort on our own will open the gates of our creativity without God's consent. I'm hoping the time of quiet will reflect new hope and energy in the new series I'm working on. Which by the way, is a total gift from God. So many ideas; so many insights. You're going to love visiting Paterra Springs!!

      We've persevered, my friend. Journey on!

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    2. Are there COWBOYS in it, Audra? :)

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    3. Glynna, that's such a great way to look at that time--that God was developing your skills as a writer. I pray that my time away will have done the same for me.

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    4. Glynna, this is an amazing story. Glad you stuck with it. BTW, I'm reading "Mountain Country Cowboy."

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    5. Hope you enjoy Rio & Cash's story, Kathy! :)

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  8. Audra, thank you for sharing your story. It is filled with hope and inspiration. I'm not published yet, but sometimes when the words won't come for the stories I'm working on washing the dishes or going for a run gets the words flowing. Sometimes it takes longer. But those times draw me closer to God as I'm praying and listening for His voice. Happy to see you!

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    1. Absolutely, Sally! I know how that works. Sometimes you just have to step away from the screen and start pairing socks to have the words fall together again (I hate pairing socks!!)

      Have you read Allie Pleiter's book, The Chunky Method? She talks about the natural rhythm of our creativity and breaks it down into chunks. I had to laugh when she said some "chunks" might only be 800 words at a sitting...Ha!

      My "chunk" is 250 words before I have to go wash dishes or go for a walk (running is NOT in my vocabulary, LOL).

      God rewards for listening to Him. Go wash those dishes-they need your attention, too. LOL!

      Have a great day, Sally!!

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    2. Okay, y'all are convicting me to go clean the kitchen!! :)

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    3. Audra, no I have not read her book. I'm going to check it out. Thanks!

      Missy, a clean kitchen = more productivity...I'm going to have to prove this theory lol.

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  9. Audra, thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I know I'm guilty of not listening to God. Or I may think I am, yet it's my own desires talking over Him. Yeah, that usually doesn't work out so well for me. And generally involves waiting, which is akin to torture for this impatient soul. But sometimes I just need to sit down and shut up. And yes, those mundane tasks such as laundry and dishes do help, don't they? I don't know what it is, but I've gotten some of my best inspiration over a sink full of dirty dishes.

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    1. Thanks, Mindy. You know? I'm wondering now, if washing dirty dishes is inspiring to me as a writer, why don't I have my heroines clean up around their homes more?

      Well worth pondering...

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    2. LOL! I just commented above about cleaning the kitchen. Yes, I'm feeling "inspired." :)

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    3. Mindy, I LOVE "sit down and shut up." That is what we need to do.

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  10. It’s so great to see you, Audra. The honesty in your words definitely struck a chord with me. My struggles actually came before publication. My journals are full of frustration and angst over the desire to be a writer. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know anything about the stress and anxiety that comes with being published. I thought it was all about sipping coffee while the words effortlessly appeared on the page. And of course, writing from a beach house or mountain cabin was part of my warped line of thinking. I was so wrong. One day, I plan to share some of those words on my blog. At the time, I was so lost and floundering, but now, I can read those entries and know that I wasn’t ready and God knew that. I hadn’t truly committed to learning the craft and investing the time that was required. I wanted to surf author websites and waste time. Thankfully, God showed me that being published wasn’t the most important thing. He wanted me to write because it’s what I love. Once I realized this, everything fell into place. Thank you for this beautiful post.

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    1. Amen to every word, Jill! I didn't keep an emotional journal (I was too busy keeping a journal of my fiction snippets), but if I had, I'd probably recognize the deep point of surrender that I finally hit bottom.

      Thanks Jill! Let's proceed on this journey together!

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  11. Hi Audra. This post resonated with me. I'm not a published author (yet!) but I do have that at the top of my hopes-and-dreams list. I finished a novel last July and (this has been a secret until now!) haven't written a word since. 'Sigh in disbelief.' To be fair, I have edited intensely, entered (and even won) some contests and spent a huge amount of time on other projects I needed to finish unrelated to writing. Now that those are done I feel God leading me back to writing and also believe He planned this time away from writing words to refresh me and let me get excited about it again. So here I go, diving back in and can't wait to fell the 'writing-tingle' all the way down to the tips of my toes (or fingers as the case may be!)
    Looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

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    1. Cindy, congratulations on finishing that novel!! Do you know realize how many people want to write a novel, but never finish?? The percentage is mindboggling!!

      Writing isn't easy. I may look like it and often people have the images of snow covered cabins and beach front lounging Jill described as part of the scenario. I don't know about you, but if you put me on a beach or up in a mountain cabin, writing isn't going to be high on my list.

      Now give a sink full of dirty dishes and I'll capture imagination, LOL!!

      Cindy, don't get discouraged. The words will come. As my writing verse says, I may plan my way, but the Lord directs my steps. Flow with the flow, so to speak and don't get hung up on the small stuff. Enjoy the freedom of writing for writing sake before deadlines loom.

      I'll write more in future posts about setting goals and meeting deadlines, but for right now, bask in the knowledge you've accomplished something the vast majority of people only dream of.

      YAYAYAYAYAY!!

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    2. Cindy R, I'm so glad you're jumping back in!! Enjoy it!

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  12. Thanks for this inspiring post, Audra. There are some days I can only write 87 words, but I feel like a winner! I'd rather pair socks and do dishes, but I feel compelled to put words on the page so I put Butt In Chair. It seems like writer's block visits me every day.

    You have my support in 2018...let's do it!!

    Blessings,

    Marcia

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    1. Marcia, thanks for your kind words. Hey, 87 words is more than you had before you sat down, right? I'm happy with my 250 writing chunk, even though I fear it's MUCH less than the average. I works for me.

      87 will work for you, too.

      You know that support thing for 2018? Back atcha!!!

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    2. Go Marcia and Audra!! We're here cheering you on!

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    3. Thanks, Missy, I just wrote an eleven word sentence that's been nagging me all morning to be outed and put down on paper. That's how short my attention span is some days. Compound that with my age, and I have a challenge on my hands. The Lord knows my mind and loves me anyway...he knows I'll get there!

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  13. Audra, I'm so glad the words are coming again. I know how it feels to be mired in blankness. My problem wasn't so much writers block as it was needing time away to deal with other things. I needed undivided time for family. I'm excited to be writing once again as well!

    I look forward to more Audra stories!

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    1. Missy, when you a ton of stuff piled onto your plate (that you didn't put there yourself), you need to deal with life. Pure and simple.

      If God had intended me to be a Nora Roberts who writes books in her sleep, well then, I'd be doing that, BUT THEN, griping about something else.

      Vicious cycle.

      I'm glad God made Missy just the way you are :)

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  14. Hey Audra, love that pretty picture of you. You now have SHORT BLONDE HAIR!!???
    Well, it's gorgeous. Great, inspiring blog today. Thank you.

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    1. Stock Show just around the corner, Mary. You'll see for yourself then :). Personally, I think the best thing about that pic is the cheesecake next to the cup of coffee. Now that's the way to kick off the new year!!

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    2. It's really going to happen isn't it, baby girl. I'm coming to Denver.

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    3. How did I not know this??!!! I'm so jealous you two get to spend time together! You'll have to share photos so we can live vicariously. :)

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    4. The Denver Stock Show! Have fun!

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    5. When is the Denver Stock Show? Is it the same every year? Iran and I need to just plan to attend in 2019!

      Wouldn't that be cool? He could hang out at the show and I could hang out with Mary & Audra! :)

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  15. It's great having you back, Audra. We've missed you. I look forward to seeing what you write in the future. I struggle all the time with my writing. I had the idea for my novel for years, but couldn't get it together. I have finally finished writing it, but now the task of revising it is a daunting task.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Way to go on finishing it, Sandy! Wishing you the best on the edits.

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    2. Sandy, big high five and congratulations! You finished! Sometimes it just take longer to complete a project when life gets in the way.

      WooHoo, happy for you, sweetstuff!!

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    3. Sandy, revisions are my favorite part of writing! The hard part is behind you!

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  16. Audra, thanks for your encouraging post. I just went through this. With two book contracts, promotion, social media, editing deadlines,and Christmas season committments, I was stressed to the max. God whispered for me to slow down and enjoy the end of the year, but I kept pushing. I had scheduled every single minute. I couldn't afford to take 2 weeks off. So what happened? I came down with a rotten, fever-infused virus for a week.

    Then I recovered. I hopped right back on the gerbil wheel. The same day I felt well, I leaped into a cleaning frenzy of my office. When I bent over to pick up a couple of books, my back seized up. After an overnight stay in the hospital on heavy duty pain killers, I came home and was forced to take another week off. Seeing a pattern?

    Last night I set the alarm on my phone to wake me at 5 am. It didn't. When I checked my phone this morning to find the problem, it had "accidentally" been set on "Do Not Disturb" mode! lol

    OK, God, I got the message!!!

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    1. Barb, I'm so sorry for the road blocks! I hope you're rested now and feeling better. Take your time and ease back in!! :)

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    2. Barb, I've been feeling a bit guilty for taking my time as I recover from the flu, but your story about ignoring God's whisper has convicted me. I'm going to continue to pay attention to the hints to rest when I feel like I need to.

      Praying for a complete recovery and good progress when you work!

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    3. YES! Why does it take us so long to recognize something is wrong and to stop and check out? I mean, if we got a flat tire, we don't continue driving 10 miles because we had to go grocery shopping, right? --you can insert any situation that isn't life or death :) --

      Barb, I found the more I pushed, the more scatology formed on the page. I finally got the hint.

      But, I'm not under contract either. I don't think God intends for us to renege on commitments. That's a whole 'nuther thing you need to pray about.

      It's also another post I'm writing on commitments.

      See, I'm just full of ideas now, LOL!!

      I hope you're feeling 100% now, Barb. Leave that nasty virus back in 2017 and look forward to 2018!!

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    4. Barb, so sorry you've been sick. Been there, done that in December, and then accepted the gift of a nasty stomach bug from a family member this week. Even before I came down with it, I knew it was bad because 7 family members (including my hubby) from 4 different households had it.

      I'm feeling great today, but spent most of the last 3 days feeling awful and sleeping. I didn't have time to lose 4 days to a virus, but it is what it is. Now I just need to make the most of the time I do have, and get some rest when I've pushed myself too far.

      And you do the same! :)

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  17. Hi, Audra! You make me feel "normal"! Thank you! We started on the same writing schedule. My first book idea appeared in my head when my daughter was 5 months old and finally appeared in print the month before she graduated high school. :) Since signing my first book contract 16 months ago, my writing has suffered. Between editing and drowning in the deep end of the book marketing pool (and teaching full time), I struggled with writing my WIP. I finally had to let it go, as you said. God's timing as has been sublimely perfect in all of this, and I accepted that it wasn't time for me to write. But that has changed recently. The words are gloriously flowing, and it feels good! Your post is so encouraging to me at this point in my journey. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Karen, I'm glad the words are flowing again!

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    2. I'm so glad my story encouraged you, Karen. In the same respect, your words have encouraged me. Sometimes it's so hard to not beat yourself up about something you just can't control.

      BTW, I've read books by multi-pubbed authors who really should have taken a break from writing. All it takes is one sub-par novel to lose an audience.

      Listen to what the Lord is putting down!!!

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  18. Since I'm not an author I can't talk about writers block with you but, as a Christian who tries to be an encourager and a contorted, I sometimes find myself unable to speak the words that will help others. I have two friends who are dealing with their second bouts of cancer and I sometimes feel inadequate in my attempts to comfort and encourage. That is when I pray for guidance. And sometimes, when the words won't come, I just hold their hands and listen!
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Dear that auto-correct. Comforter! Instead of contorted, even though I may seem that way some times. LOL

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    2. LOL, Connie. It took me a second, but I figured out the correct word. :)

      You know, I have a hard time with knowing what to say to comfort people. It doesn't come naturally for me. I think you've found the trick in just listening and supporting.

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    3. Connie, sometimes the best thing we can do is just sit and listen. Being there for your friends is such a good, good medicine for the soul.

      God didn't make you a writer; He made you an important ally your friends (us authors included) can't live without.

      Bless you and thank you!

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  19. Enjoyed your post, Audra! As a reader, I enjoy hearing about the challenges you writers face! Looking forward to more great books from you! And please count me in the E book drawing!
    Hope 2018 is a great year for you!

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    1. Jackie, you're in! Thank you for being a faithful fan!! We so appreciate you!!

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  20. Audra, so glad you're back. Sometimes when our plate gets too full, we need to step away from the table and take a breather. You did what the Lord willed for your life at that time. Now you're back to writing and I'm cheering!

    Welcome home!

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    1. Thank you, friend, for being supportive through the whole time!

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    2. I get that, Audra. The words aren't there, but you're not quite you without them. It's a different kind of acceptance to learn.

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  21. Beautifully said, Audra! So glad the words are returning for you!

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    1. Thank, Myra. I was feeling a bit naked without them, LOL.

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  22. Audra, I love your new picture! Your friend captured the right moment. :-)

    Your post reminded me of when I take Thatcher (Corgi-extraordinaire) hiking with me. Up in the Hills he can go off the leash, and he loves the freedom. But as we hike along the trail, he is always in front. Often, when we come to a fork, he'll charge along the path he thinks we're taking, distracted by smells or the wind or a noise...until finally he turns around to see me waiting for him at that fork in the trail and realizes his mistake.

    It reminds me of how often I do that with God - I know where he wants me to go, right? So I charge off down the wrong path. Not a bad direction, but not the best direction. Not the direction He has planned for me. So I turn around, rest in Him, and then set off again in the right direction.

    Thatcher will never let me lead him, but I hope I've learned my lessons about letting God lead me.

    So glad that your non-writing season seems to be over, and I have a feeling your stories will be even better for it!

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    1. So beautifully said, my friend! This is exactly the story of my life (complete with the Corgi, except Dobby doesn't do the whole leash thing well, LOL!)

      I've got to remember to listen when I ask. Please help me remember that, K?

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    2. Hmm, listening for the answer after we ask for direction?That's a good idea!

      :-) We'll keep each other accountable!!!

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    3. oops, that was supposed to be here, LOL.

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  23. Oh, Audra, this is truer than any of us know. There's a lot to be said for "pushing through" and all the tricks longtime writers do to "beat the block," but there is also so much to being still and knowing He is God. How to handle burnout is different for each writer and each writer's situation.
    My day job has always been in print journalism, so I've learned the value of powering through. This stuff is different, and if we don't wait on God, we got nothin'.
    It is good to have you back and also good to have Seekerville on Friday. Personally, I like the M-W-F (with an occasional Tues and Thurs) model. I liked having Fridays before, when it was Birthday Month or some other special occ., because it gave me that one little kick, and occasional kick-in-pants, that I needed to get into the weekend and sustain me until Monday.
    Off to battle snow, ice and wind. Fortunately, my current WIP takes place in New England in the winter, so I'm going to milk and mine this weather to get something good out of it.
    Kathy Bailey
    Wearing layers in NH

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    1. LOL, Kathy! You just milk and mine while the frigid weather gives you the opportunity! Do you need a scarf? I can crochet one for you.

      Thanks for your positive input on the new format. M-W-F gives us a chance to write and maybe catch up on the chatter of the day with the post.

      If you need a kick in the pants, just give me a holler. I'll be kind and gentle :)

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  24. Such encouraging words, Audra. Thank you! I have definitely gone through seasons where the words won't come and I've seen that ebb and flow. Listening to God is most assuredly the key to peace during the waiting. Thanks for the great post!

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    1. Thanks, Glynis! I wanted to share so others wouldn't think they were in this alone!!

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  25. I think we can all relate to this, Audra. I know I have. I've had long dry spells where the words didn't come. Then even shorter seasons of the same.

    And I love that picture of you!! Especially that huge slice of ... cheeseecake ... is it? That had to have been SO yummy! :)

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    1. Pam, it's good to mention the shorter seasons, too. They can be baffling!

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    2. Cheesecake, yes! Although I've got to say I spent most of my December baking cheesecakes to give as gifts. If you'll notice, I didn't eat much of it. I took it home and my son had to gone in no time flat, LOL!

      Seasons. I stuffed a few of them in one bag this last time. I think LISTEN is my one word for the year, LOL!

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  26. Great post, Audra! Happy Friday and Happy Friday!

    In every season He is still Lord! I'm ready to come out of the wilderness that I've been in.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Amen, Caryl! And your name has been tossed in the cowboy hat!

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  27. Replies
    1. So happy to be back, Eva! I missed you!!

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  28. It seems that is what we all tend to do - listen to what we want to hear as a response from God and not actually hear what he is saying. Why do we do that? I wish I knew. Thank you for sharing your struggle with us and how you came back. I need that encouragement right now as a reader. I think I need to scale back and focus more on my family and not on lesser things.

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    1. Susan P, I don't know why that's so difficult. I have two problems. I either jump in too quickly and "hear" what I want to hear. Or I do hear, and then doubt and wonder if it's just my own desires.

      Sometimes we just have to leap in faith, I guess.

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    2. Oh, Susan! All the choices that swirl around us! Since emerging from my foggy Siberian writing-wasteland, I've noticed, and become alarmed over, the amount of drek I allow myself to be distracted by. It's been an eye-opening experience on so many levels.

      And I second what Missy said. Doubt over what you think you heard can be a killer, too.

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  29. Oh Audra, I love you! We have so much in common...Trying to power through when God was asking me to be still. Wanting to 'fix' what was broken when the only thing *not* broken was my heart! Wondering if my writing career was over when nothing seemed to be working...and all around me others were having great success...

    But God is faithful, even when I'm being a dolt!

    I'm so glad you're BACK!

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    1. Amen to that, Erica. God is faithful even when I'm being a dolt too. :)

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    2. I love this, Erica, because I've always admired your resiliency. I remember the post you wrote on Seekerville during the hard times. Every time I see you publish another book, or comment that you're written 'The End" I'm reminded of your strength and faith!

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    3. Bless you, Cate! That was a tough post to write, and a tougher post to live! But God is faithful, and He keeps proving that to me!

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    4. Erica, you are such a sweet, sweet friend. I'll retreat in Nebraska with you anytime :)

      We are such fickle creatures, aren't we? Worrying about sill things and completely forgetting that God gave us these gifts to begin with...He can do whatever He wants with them.

      I'm learning to help everything loosely.

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    5. Audra, let's plan another Nebraska retreat again SOON! Mary won't mind if we crash her place, right? <3

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  30. I think you struck a chord with all of us when you mentioned actually listening when we pray. Oy, that's so hard to do! Can I trust what I hear? Or don't hear? Will that impression that conflicts with my desire be easily brushed aside as 'doubt' just because I really want to or don't want to do something? I wrestle with this all the time and I think I've figure out -- for me, anyway -- it's my inability to trust myself that's at the root of the problem. And being able to really trust myself can only come from trusting God which means I have to start listening...and it comes around full circle. Sigh. I'm such a mess! lol But I find this blog post very heartening! Please don't enter me in the draw because I don't read ebooks at the present time. Happy New Year, Audra.

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    1. Kav, I love your encouragement to trust ourselves.

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    2. Kav, you have such a beautiful heart. I'm right there with you on trusting and it extends to so many decisions I make in life.

      Thank you for your kind words and let's all work on recognizing Truth over desire.

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  31. I love this post! Last year was crazy and I had many long stretches where the words just wouldn't come. I couldn't force them out, often I didn't even want to try, and I was left frustrated and even angry.

    But I've gotten really good advice from two different writer friends now (looking at you Jan Drexler!) to embrace this pre-published time of my life for what it is. Relish the freedom. Build habits. Give myself grace. Be there for my husband and small children.

    2018 started with vigor, and the words are flowing again. I'm trying to remember to be thankful. Someone on Seekerville a few months back (I can't remember who) reminded us all of John 3:27 "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven." So I look to The Creator in heaven to provide what He wants me to create, and if I'm in a season where the words/stories/characters just aren't coming, it's a reminder to re-fix my focus back on Him.

    Writing can be such an idol in my life. If I'm not careful, it comes before children, marriage, and God. I've found that only when I keep it in it's proper place and remember to put God first, my family second, and THEN writing, does God seem to give the grace of creativity for the purpose of His honor and glory.

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    1. Beautifully said, Megan. Once I finally sold (after almost 12 years of trying), I realized I couldn't have done everything I needed to do when my kids were young. God knew when I would be ready.

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    2. Amen to every word, Megan. Listen to Jan Drexler -- she is one wise woman! God knows what's ahead for you, but He wants you to focus on the here and now.

      Don't borrow tomorrows troubles; enjoy the blessings of the moment!! AND, remember, kids grow up so fast. Bask in the time you have with them now.

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  32. Hi Audra, thank you for sharing your heart in this post.

    I have had episodes like that - several times in the 30+ years I've been writing. The first is the one I remember most vividly. It was my second manuscript. The first had been a total outpouring of joy. I loved the story, loved the characters, loved spending time immersing myself in the absolute joy of creating. The story flowed so smoothly.

    Then along came the second book. I loved those characters equally, loved the basic story, LOVED the opening, but the scenes? They just weren't there. Even worse, I had no idea how to make them show themselves. Because the first book had flowed effortlessly, I had no idea how to come up with ideas for scenes.

    That book was never finished. Obviously, I have finished and published others since, but that fear of "what scene comes next?" has never quite left me and it definitely has sucked some of the joy of writing from me.

    Here's wishing you many happy good words in 2018!

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    1. Mary Cate, I've had that "what comes next?" anxiety, too. I found James Scott Bell's book about plotting from the middle really helped me with that. Now I know where I'm heading from beginning to middle. Then again from middle toward the end. Have you ever read that book? It's been a great tool for me!

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    2. Cate, I hear and have lived every word! That first book is filled with such joy and exuberance, it practically writes itself. And then comes the second one - the sophomore stymie, I call it. It completely boggled my mind trying to figure out what was so different writing the second book. Never did figure it out, but like you, I've gone on to write others...with that little niggle of apprehension tailing me the whole way.

      Bless you, my friend. Many good words in 2018 right back atcha!!

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    3. Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey with us, Audra. I was holding my breath as I read, because I was concerned you were going to say you were ending your writing career (*gasp*) but I was VERY relieved when I read that you're back!! :) I'm sure your post today strikes a familiar chord with lots of us, and I'm praying this new year is blessed and productive for all.
      Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

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  33. To listen. Ah, there lies the wisdom. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm praying our 2018 is filled with the wisdom of listening :)

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    2. SO true.
      Why is it I seem to fight it so much?
      ACK!

      Things are so much easier when I LISTEN! :)

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  34. I’m working on a book now. Well, it’s not just one book, it’s become a series.

    Those words are music to my reader-ears, Audra! And thank you for your honesty and such a heart-felt post reminding me to really pay attention to what I hear. Listening is an under-rated skill :-)

    Nancy C

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    1. Nancy, you make me smile. Thank you, my friend!

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  35. Thank you for sharing your story, Audra! Such an encouraging post. Praying for you as you work on your new series.

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    1. Thank you, Laura! Your prayers are so welcome along the journey! It's good to be back.

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  36. Hey, Audra my friend!!!!!!!!!! So good to see you!!!!! As it's been a long time. :-) I've missed you, and so happy God gave you words again! Good advice, to listen to God!!! Instead of thinking we have all the answers, and advice I need to remember over and over. As writers, our lives and careers aren't cookie-cutter, and that's okay.
    But I am happy you're writing again!
    And I'm happy you enjoy your day job. That's important!
    The one time I had a really bad time with writer's block was when I stopped in the middle of writing The Merchant's Daughter to start a book I thought would be more appealing to publishers. I was only a few pages in and I got writer's block so BAD! I couldn't write a thing. It was awful. But it didn't take me very long to get the hint: God wanted me to finish that other book I'd laid aside!!! I thought I knew best--that that Medieval fairy tale retelling wasn't going to sell so I needed to write something set in America in the 1800s. But God knows best. And the Medieval came out years ago, while the other book? Never sold. LOL!
    But it's all good. Everything works out in its right timing, especially when we listen.
    Love you Audra!!!!!!!

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    1. I'm so glad you went back to your fairy tale, Melanie!!

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    2. MELANIE! Oh how I've missed you, my friend. AND you'll be a regular blogger in Seekerville! Such a great year lies ahead for us all.

      I'm so glad God put a stop to that foolishness of you thinking you shouldn't finish The Merchant's Daughter. I loved that book and all the others in its wake.

      We'll remember Melanie Dickerson along with the Grimm Brothers, Aesop, and Hans Christian Anderson as the best tellers of fairy tales of all time.

      Love ya, kiddo. We'll have to sweep Missy along and room together for a conference sometime!!

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    3. Yes!!! The three of us really SHOULD room together at a conference sometime. Wink wink. I'd think we'd have a ton of fun. :-)
      It IS going to be a great year. I feel it, something good just around the bend. ;-)

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    4. And we readers will be the beneficiaries as you honor God with your words.

      Thank you all!

      :D

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  37. Great post Audra! You always inspire me. Can’t wait to read your next book

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    1. Jill, your words are a blessing. I envy the leap of faith you've taken to write full-time and look at you! Your books on my shelf continue to grow.

      I'm so proud of you!

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  38. I've experienced writer's block multiple times, but never for that long... two weeks tops.

    I'm glad you're finally able to write again!

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    1. Nicki, quite honestly, I never knew what people were talking about when they mentioned writer's block before this event. Sure, good writing wasn't always at my beck and call, but I'd never experience a total blank when I'd sit to write.

      And now, I have a long road ahead. That novel writing muscle has atrophied a bit. But little by little, chunk by chunk, the books will come!

      Thanks for your encouragement and I hope there are many words in store for you in 2018!

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  39. Audra, it is so good to know we’ll see you on a regular basis again in Seekerville....and that the words are back to appearing in your head and heart. Yes, He has plans for all of us!

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    1. Sherida, good see you again in a regular blog setting. I'm glad we've connect during the Seekerville parties during my blank times.

      Let's see what God has in store for 2018!!

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  40. I hear you, Audra, and I share your story! Thank you for hitting the nail on the head. For me, it's been family stresses that have occupied my time, but I've allowed the golden free time, when I should have backside in chair, to glide by without words on the page. No more squandering those precious moments.

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  41. Thank you so much for sharing, Audra! Even book blogger sometimes suffer from "review-writer's" block, pressure I put on myself and a desire to encourage as many authors as possible has triggered a block for me on occasion. Keeps us humble and relying on Him, right?!

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  42. Thank you for sharing your heart, Audra. You spoke to mine. We must always stop and listen to that still small Voice. He guides our path. Thanks again. I'm definitely sharing this post! God bless.

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  43. AUDRA!!! I can't believe I'm late to YOUR party, my friend -- PLEASE FORGIVE ME!! I actually spent three hours on the phone with Applecare yesterday because I cannot send or receive emails on my brand-new Macbook Pro, and the problem isn't fixed yet. Am scheduled for another (dear God, please NOT three hours) appt. today, so prayers appreciated.

    But I digress!

    I cannot tell you WHAT a pleasure it was to read your blog, my friend -- it made MY heart sing!! I have been praying for you and your writing for a long time now, and I am overjoyed you are working on a series!! I hope I get to read it soon.

    You said, "When the words didn’t come, I was convinced I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was letting God down. He’d answered my prayer and I wasn’t passing muster."

    Oh, sweetie, I have SO been there, too, as you well know because I've spilled my guts to you on a number of occasions, so this really hit home for me too.

    You asked: "What kind of frustrations have you experienced? What have you done about them?"

    Well, it's no secret I hit the wall a few years back, which is why I took my sabbatical to focus more on God, family, and writing for the sheer joy of writing. As you know, it was the BEST THING I have ever done since it forced me to listen for that Still Small Voice rather than all the clamor in my head about what I thought was success. I now know that God's idea of success for me is what I want, not my own, and that was the beginning of my indie career, which I have enjoyed immensely.

    WONDERFUL post, Audra, and I cannot WAIT to see where God takes you, my friend!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  44. I'm in a blank time with edits right now! The worst time to have writers block. Thanks for your encouragement. Up

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  45. It was interesting to read your story of your writing block. I don’t write but I do read and find myself in a slump sometimes. I don’t know how you do your writing when you have a full time day job! Kudos to you. Thanks

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  46. Wonderful post today, Audra.
    It surely resonated with me and I'm most appreciative of your wisdom.

    You definitely have a way with words. Thank you again!

    Looking forward to what Seekerville offers in 2018. Going to be GREAT! Glad you're no longer MIA. :)

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