Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Hello Dear Readers,

When I first got into writing seriously again, it couldn’t escape my notice that, for a woman who had “no time”, I was certainly frittering plenty of it away.

So I began to ask myself one question before each time-killer.

How will this help me achieve my goals?

It seems simple, but it helped put everything in a clearer perspective. How will watching a rerun of 90210 help me achieve my goal of becoming a published author? Not at all. How about reading just “one more chapter” of someone else’s novel? Again, not at all. (Yes, it’s important for writers to read other authors’ work, but trust me, I do that enough!) How will surfing the Internet help? Chatting on Facebook? Online shopping? Cleaning the house? I’m sure you can guess the answer to those.

There are thousands of books about how to become a successful author, but I can save you the time and expense of buying and reading them by sharing this very simple formula. If you want to be a writer, there is really only one thing you must do.

Walk over to your desk. Plant your butt in the chair. Write. Repeat. Frequently.

Trust me, it’s simple, but it works. Eventually.

The next time you find yourself not accomplishing anything, try my one question.

How will this help me achieve my goals?

Your television consumption may suffer, but I’m guessing that’s the only thing that will!

How do you motivate yourself?

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Polly

    Been using a similar question for myself when faced with decisions: “Will this get me closer to my ideal life?” Or “Which of these possibilities will get me closer to my ideal life?”

    Of course that means asking some variation of other big questions first: “What is my ideal life?” or “What does sheer joy look like?” or “If I could be doing whatever I want, what would it be?”

    Once I have that image in my head, it’s so much easier to sort through options and “opportunities” and activities which may actually be time/energy-sucks disguised!

  2. thefish

    Love it Storyteller. And it was just what I needed to ask myself today.

  3. Kim

    I’m totally failing at that task today. 1:13 and I’ve done nothing productive.

    Well… I DID do my workout.

    All those papers I was supposed to mark… nada… And it is feeling like it is time to eat.

  4. Lisa

    How do I motivate myself?

    It depends on what task I want to accomplish. If it’s fitness related and I’m less than thrilled about doing it then I just look in the mirror and ask myself if I like what I see. Most of the time the answer is “yes”, and I tell myself that if I want to keep seeing that person in the mirror I’d better get out there and do it (“it” being whatever is on the schedule for the day: swim, run, gym, yoga etc).

    Other things require less motivation and I’m not sure why. Cleaning the house, laundry, shoveling the walks…I honestly don’t mind doing them so maybe that’s why I don’t feel the need to kick myself in the behind to do them. I think I just visualize the completed task( because I do like a clean house, folded laundry, clear walks etc).

    And there are times when things have piled up and I’ve finally made a list of everything I need to do. I think being able to check everything off a list is another motivator for me.

    (I sound as if I’m all over the place don’t I? ;0)))

  5. Story Teller

    Thanks for commenting, friends. 🙂

    @ Polly – sounds like great minds think alike. Great questions to ask oneself. And welcome back! I was just thinking it had been awhile since I’d heard from you.

    @ Mr. Fish – that’s awesome! Glad I could help.

    @ Kim – working out definitely counts.

    @ Lisa – not at all. It’s good to have different motivators for different tasks. I’m a list maker myself.

  6. laura best

    At the moment what keeps me motivated is the knowledge that I just want to tell the story I have to tell and make it through to the end. I’m trying to do it just for me, not for anyone else. When I am done, completely done, I’ll decide what to do next.

    While I watch very little tv I do feel as though I spend too much time on social networking sites than I should. And you’re so right, Holli, the only thing that is going to see us accomplish our writing goals is to write. A good reminder.

  7. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comment, Laura. I believe that’s the only way to write successfully. You have to write the story you really want to tell–not the one that you think will make you a millionaire.

    Best of luck with your writing!

  8. Elspeth Cross



    And I keep thinking long term. Anything worth while takes time, effort and commitment. I think my writing is worth while and therefore so is the price.

  9. Story Teller

    Good way of looking at it, Elspeth. And you can have the chocolate…I’ll take the potato chips, please.

  10. Jocé

    That is an excellent question, Holli. And I had a good day yesterday asking myself just that!

    I’ve been trying to work on a similar theme – prioritizing projects and focusing on To Do lists; but your approach is much more of a zoom in on what is important. Thanks for that.

    My Blog following has suffered a bit lately, but always find time to skim a look at yours 🙂 It is so compelling and well done.

  11. Story Teller

    Welcome back, Jocé! I’ve missed you.

    Care to share your To Do list? I’d love to know what you’re working on these days.

    And Happy, Happy Birthday!


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