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


Hello Dear Readers,

I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. After writing The Silent Killer and Finding My Voice, any other subject seems trite or insignificant. I’ve never wanted a break from writing more than I do right now.

But then I remembered that being a professional writer means writing even when you aren’t inspired. Even when you don’t want to. Especially when you just want to crawl into bed and not emerge until spring. So here I am, and maybe this post will help someone, as I believe it will help me.

About a month ago, I interviewed an incredible man. This man is a business coach, and during our twenty minute phone interview, which occurred as he boarded a plane and waited for his flight to take off, I learned more than a million self-help books could ever hope to teach me. I had to share his knowledge with you–I hope you find it as revolutionary as I did.

This advice is best applied by people who have a dream–a business, an idea, or a calling they want to chase or are currently chasing. Want to know how to succeed? You need just four things.

1) Belief. The number one and most important thing you need is to believe in yourself. You can’t just know where you want to go–you have to believe with all your heart that you will get there. Maintaining this kind of unshakable faith is really difficult for a lot of us, so next Wednesday I will cover how to reignite your belief and hold on to it.

This isn’t just hocus-pocus, touchy-feely stuff, either. Many scientific studies have been done to prove the power of belief. Athletes call it visualization and swear it works. Ever heard the phrase “mind over matter”? That’s belief.

2) Clarity. You have to know exactly where your business/calling/relationship is at right now (yes, this recipe for success will work for relationships, too) and where you want it to go.

As the business coach explained, everything in the universe is in motion at all times. We either direct that motion, or it randomly happens. Learn to direct the motion and you’ll be surprised where it can go.

3) Focus. It’s essential to focus on the actions that support your belief. Focus is frequency instead of intensity. This means it’s better for writers to write five pages every single day than it is to write thirty thousand words in a week and then take two months off. Frequency determines whether we succeed or fail. If you feel distracted, it’s typically because your belief is waning. Stay as focused as you possibly can, and you’ll accomplish whatever you want to accomplish.

This was a revelation for me. I’ve wanted to be a full-time author of fiction since I was five years old. Problem is, I’m also interested in a lot of other things. Over the years, these other activities have taken over my time and energy–drawing, running a freelance journalism business, relationships, cooking, gardening, blogging, scrapbooking, kickboxing–and every time I’ve taken my focus away from being a writer, guess what? I stopped writing. I definitely stopped marketing and submitting my work as well. Imagine where I’d be today if I’d stayed single-mindedly focused on my dream of being a full-time author. Imagine where you could be.

4) Flexibility. Flexibility is taking into consideration that there’s more than one way from Point A to Point B. There’s no magic formula, but there’s your way. You dramatically reduce problems when you follow the natural movement that’s been presented.

Back when I had an agent who was submitting Lost, two editors from two different publishing houses expressed interest in buying my book. With one condition. I had to rewrite it as a novel for young adults. I was horrified, considering the subject matter. I also had no interest in writing for that age group, so I turned the offers down. My agent agreed with me.

Years later, I’m publishing Lost on this blog. And writing a young adult novel. If I had accepted one of those offers and the result had been a published young adult book, it would not have been perfect. It would not have been my ideal way of getting published. But if the end goal is to be a full-time writer, does it really matter how or what gets published first? Once my foot is in the door, I can shove the rest of myself right through that opening. Instead, when opportunity came knocking, I slammed the door in its face.

Lesson learned.

What do you think of these secrets? Can you see a way to apply them to your life and goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading!
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  1. Crystal

    Good timing I needed this post today.

    I think I really relate to #3. It’s like that time I tried to be a potter… 🙂 Since I’ve really focused on being a writer, I’ve finished a novel, published it, and am working on the next. Focus is a powerful thing!

    I want to know more about clarity… I like where you wrote, “Learn to direct the motion and you’ll be surprised where it can go.” I’d be curious to hear your thoughts (or what you learned) about HOW to direct that motion. They’re probably simple things, but I want to them anyway!

  2. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks for your comment, Crystal. Good to “see” you. I’m glad you’ve learned to focus…it is a powerful thing, just not always the easiest to do.

    As for clarity, a lot of people write a mission statement in order to get clear about where they are and where they’re going. I think you can do this even if you’re a self-employed writer. Others hire business coaches or consultants to come in and thoroughly assess where their business is in the marketplace.

    For me personally, I think clarity is very much tied to focus. If you don’t know where you want to go, how can you focus on the end goal? When I think of my own career, this means I need to get clear about my goal, which is to be a full-time writer of fiction. All the time I spend chasing after additional freelance gigs, etc., is not helping me reach that destination. Neither is all the time I spend on social media.

    I’m great at writing books, but I’m not so good about rewriting and submitting them. This has to change if what I really want is to do this full-time.

  3. Toby Neal

    Hi Holli, I agree with each of these points. As a therapist too, who specializes in CBT (Cognitive-Behavior Therapy) I can attest to the soundness of these principles. Keeping visual reminders near me and using tools like a timer, lists, and clear written goals help me stay true to my vision and output of four books a year.

  4. Toby Neal

    Also, I highly suggest you don’t just blog your book but you plan to package and publish it. I got my second agent after I self published and I’m making a healthy income and got to quit my state job by self publishing. Don’t wait on the gatekeepers if you have a quality product.

  5. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks for your insight, Toby. It’s much appreciated! How do you use a timer to keep you on track?

    My fear about self-publishing is that I’ve heard you have to have a high number of sales for an agent or editor to give you a chance if you’d also like to be traditionally published (I’ve heard 100,000 sales). It’s basically letting them see how your sales would be without them having to take the risk of signing you. Problem is, the author is the one that has to do all the marketing and distribution, and I’m worried I won’t have time. I haven’t even answered your interview questions yet! How did you find your audience?

  6. TAH

    Great advice, and interesting to hear more about your story.<3

  7. Chris

    Great post! Love the part about belief.

  8. Holli Moncrieff

    Thank you kindly, Chris and Tana. Glad you liked it. I appreciate the feedback, always.

  9. Michelle D. Argyle

    This is really lovely and valuable advice, Holli. I’ve been struggling as of late with my Belief part of this, I think, and that’s why I’ve been so down and unfocused. I need to believe again. I’ve definitely had the focus going, since I’ve pretty much had a single vision of my author career for about 18 years now. Rhemalda closing just flipped me upside down, so I’m trying to get back up and get that Belief back into gear. Now that I have this helpful list to go by, I’m feeling a bit better. You rock, seriously. 🙂

  10. Holli Moncrieff

    You’re very welcome, Michelle. It’s a thrill for me to be able to help one of my all-time favorite people. Belief is a huge issue for me, too–I’m always struggling with self-doubt, especially after it didn’t work out with my agent.

    I think anyone would be shaken after what you’ve gone through. You loved Rhemalda so much and felt very comfortable with them. You probably had to work your way through all the stages of grief.

    Next Wednesday is Part II, where I will discuss all the ways we lose our belief and how to get it back. The interview with this business coach came at a perfect time for me. Glad it could help you, too.

    Thanks for being here and commenting. Sending you much love and huge hugs!


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