Tips and Tricks to Fool Your Brain into Writing by Melody Johnson

Writing is a rough gig. It’s a solitary activity, so either you wake up at ungodly hours before the sun and your loved ones rise for the day, like me, or you give up part of your day to spend quality time with a blinking cursor and a blank page, both of which SEEMS less important when your husband is itching to go on an adventure and the sun is shining and the day is beckoning and staying inside the perfect little writing cave you’ve created feels akin to death.

Then why do we write, you ask? Because it IS important. Most writers, myself included, have stories and characters and unexpressed emotions tumbling inside their brains whether we write them down or not, but we’re compelled to put fingers to keyboards and solidify those stories. It’s an expression of self, an exploration of humanity and the ties that bind us, and God help us, we can’t stop.

Even when the last thing I want to do is write—even over laundry, washing dishes and scrubbing the bathroom tile mold—I need to find that perfect word to describe her regret. I need to solidify that first kiss I’ve been envisioning for months, and I need to flesh out a fresh, unique way for a damaged man to learn to trust again. That need fills me with drive, and after almost ten years of being in the driver’s seat of my writing life, I’ve learned how to smoothly shift gears, accelerate into the turns, and balance my day life and the people in it without crashing. And so can you.

Write what you love

Many people advise to write what you know, but I’d like to take it a step further. If your subject doesn’t excite you, if you’re not writing characters in settings exploring situations that excite you, than your writing won’t excite anyone else either. Whether you’re writing romance or non-fiction, write with passion and you’ll sweep readers off their feet along with yourself.

Writing is a long distance event, not a sprint

One page a day. That’s all it takes to write a 365-page book in a year. It sounds overly simplified, but it’s true. There are days I write much more than one page a day, but I never write less. It’s like training for an event. If you start to skip days in your training, you’ll never get back into shape, you’ll never be as in shape as the people training every day, and after skipping one day, the temptation to skip again is almost irresistible. Don’t skip. Don’t make excuses. Just write that one page.

Read, live, love

The books you read and the days you experience are the fuel for your writing. When the passion and drive for my characters and story overwhelm me and I’m bursting with inspiration, sure, I’ll spend my whole day writing, and then when I unearth my head from the deep, dark depth of my imagination, I realize I’ve missed a beautiful day at the beach or a cuddle/movie/popcorn day with my husband. So sprinting is great for one day, but no one can sustain that pace for an entire book and remain sane, keep healthy relationships, and enjoy life. And by doing so, you’re compromising the very thing that fuels your imagination: living. So take a book and read on the beach with friends. Or write a few paragraphs on your phone while in line for that concert. Being a successful writer doesn’t have to correlate with being a recluse or alcoholic anymore. That’s a stereotype long gone by the wayside. Let life inspire your writing by living it.

Learn the industry  

Writing is a solitary activity, but you are not alone. Hundreds upon hundred of writers are out there—the hundreds upon hundreds of books filling libraries, bookstores, and Amazon shopping carts can attest to that—and that’s only counting published authors. Find a writers group. Attend a conference. Surround yourself with other writers who are hungry to improve their craft and absorb knowledge from industry professionals. Not only will they inspire you to write, but you’ll better understand the secondary people you’re writing for: agents and editors.

Once you write your manuscript and then edit it to within an inch of its life, you actually have a novel! And then what? Then you get to research agents and publishers and decide your next step. You start crafting your query letter, you shape your synopsis, you submit to agents and editors, and you pitch to them at conferences. And where do you learn to do all these things? I learned them from my fellow authors at writers group meetings, at monthly presentations with industry professionals/speakers that my group recruits to teach us the trade, and at conferences. Become involved, and you’ll surprise yourself with how little you actually know about the business of publishing after reading and writing for a lifetime, or at least, I certainly did.

Don’t be afraid to delete

Your writing isn’t carved in stone like the Ten Commandments, and as Jodi Picoult so wisely said, “You can’t edit a blank page.” So just write. The great American novel isn’t going to pour from your brain onto the page in a first draft, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: it doesn’t for me either. It doesn’t for my favorite author or yours or anyone. We vomit the story onto the page until everything swirling in our brain is purged into some concrete format—usually Word but sometime the notes app on my phone and once in a great while, actual paper—then we take that mess of a manuscript and we get started on draft two. And then draft three. And then… you get the idea. So don’t let the fear of imperfection or mediocrity or bad writing prevent you from writing. Accept up front that it will be bad—it can’t be any other way because it’s a first draft—let go of the fear and excuses that do nothing but choke creativity, and just sit down and do what you’ve been dying to do all along: write.

A Dangerous Choice

On the brink of death, Cassidy DiRocco demands that New York City’s master of the supernatural, Dominic Lysander, transform her—reporter, Night Blood, sister, human—into the very creature she’s feared and fought against for months: a vampire. The pain is brutal, she could lose the career she’s worked so hard to achieve, and her world will never be the same. But surviving is worth any risk, especially when it means gaining the strength to fight against Jillian Allister, the sister who betrayed Dominic, attacked Cassidy, and is leading a vampire uprising that will destroy all of New York City . . .

When she awakens, however, Cassidy realizes the cost of being transformed might be more than she was willing to sacrifice. But if Cassidy hopes to right the irrevocable wrongs that Jillian and her army of the Damned have wrought on New York City, she’ll need to not only accept her new senses, body, and cravings, but wield them in her favor. Irresistible and enigmatic as Dominic is, he no longer has command over the city or its vampires. Only Cassidy has the connections to convince the humans, Day Reapers, and the few vampires still loyal to Dominic to join forces. And maybe, if Dominic can accept her rising power over the coven he once commanded for the past several hundred years, the