For me writing is a visual art. I make pictures in my head of the places, characters, and action, and then write what I see. Not only that, I cover the walls of my studio with drawings, paintings, and photographs. While writing A Paradise Called Texas my walls were papered with pictures of sailing ships, German villages, women in long dresses, a wagon pulled by oxen, and this log cabin.
I love doing research of all kinds, especially traveling to the sites of the story - everywhere from Germany to a desolate and windy Texas beach. Sometimes research means going to the library. Sometimes it means visiting a horse stable, and sometimes it means watching a house being moved!
I write from an outline, but a flexible one. Often my characters begin to act on their own, and that's fun. Still an outline helps, because I can concentrate on one chapter at a time and not think about writing a whole long book.
Something that helps me get words on paper - yes, paper - is that I write whatever comes to mind without worrying whether it is good or bad. Then comes the fun part - rewriting! Now I have something to work on instead of a blank sheet of paper. After two or three handwritten drafts, I type it into my computer for more revisions.
To be a writer you must read. The rhythm of the words will become a part of you, so be sure to choose the best books. It is also important to make yourself keenly aware of everything around you, and how the scenes and events of life affect you and others. Open up to life and keep a journal of what you see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and think.