1. Be prepared to write garbage. A lot of it. “Better to write twaddle (her word for it) than nothing at all,” said Katherine Mansfield. Too many writers get hung up on writing a first perfect line/paragraph/chapter and never go beyond. The blank page is intimidating, but you have to put the words down for the story to be written.
  2. Write in spite of everything happening around you. Write because of everything. Life will always get in the way of your writing. I’ve written through illness, upheaval, and heart-wrenching loss, and I’m telling you it can be done. Carve out the time for it, even if it’s only a few minutes here, an hour there. (My author mom called this the “patchwork quilt” method of writing.) Let it be an outlet for busyness and stress. If you let it, the writing can save you.
  3. Write the story you want to read. I’ve written eight books—two narrative adventure nonfictions set in the Arctic, a historical fiction series, a memoir about my Indiana high school years, and a young adult novel about suicide, depression, and first love. At first glance, the themes of my writing are all over the place. But the thing each book has in common is that it was something I wanted to read.