Write whenever you can, wherever you can – the great thing about writing is that you can do it anywhere. You don’t need a ton of space or fancy equipment, you just need a pen and paper or computer keyboard and then you can begin.

Lisa Gardner by Philbrick Photography

Lisa Gardner by Philbrick Photography

Don’t procrastinate. Between work, family, social life, it’s hard to carve out the time to write. So don’t waste that precious creative time! Turn that phone to airplane mode, close those browser windows open in the background and just focus on writing.

Give yourself a schedule – and stick to it! A productive writer is a happy writer, which makes finding your optimal work habits the true key to writing success.

Deadlines are your friend - Writers can’t take all day to write.  Or all year.  It’s not good for us.  We need to be anxious, terrified and neurotic.  It’s our natural state.

Find a fascinating subject to write about. In the case of my most recent novel Look for Me, I found my subject when I read about a harrowing mass homicide. In that case, every member of the family had been shot, except for the teenaged daughter, who had gone missing. Horrible stuff – but what hooked my interest was the sheriff’s quote that the police didn’t know whether the missing teen was in fact a victim, or perhaps the one who’d murdered her own family. When you find a something in real life that is stranger than fiction, I find that it usually makes for a great story.

Do your research. Whatever genre you’re writing in, research is essential. Research will inspire you and ultimately make the story feel real for the reader. Any time I get stuck, I refer back to my research notes. 

Keep asking questions of your story and its characters. Is the detective searching for a victim or a killer? Does this focus change during the novel? What is the missing girl going through?  Is she even now in the hands of a vicious kidnapper, or in fact, is she a master manipulator who just got away with murder? Keep your writing curious and you’ll keep the reader hooked.

Scented candles - seriously. I remember hearing a New York Times bestselling author stating that the key to her writing success was scented candles.  As she explained, scent can be a powerful neurological trigger.  By burning the same fragrance each day while she wrote, she conditioned herself to write every time she smelled that fragrance. 

What inspired you to start writing the novel in the first place? Return to that question, idea, theme, time and time again, and you’ll always find fresh motivation to get back to work.

Do you write? Then you’re a writer. Don’t be ashamed to call yourself one.