Missing Links and an Addendum

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Missing Links
* An Addendum
* A Timely Irony
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“[W]e need to be careful that we don’t send the message to beginning writers (who have families to care for, day jobs to keep bread on the table, and some days they just can’t squeeze in a couple hours to write) that they are not ‘real’ writers if they don’t write every day. I know of no other profession that works in their profession every single day.” Steve Hooley

“Finally, maybe you’re just afraid you aren’t really a writer, or that you aren’t a “real” writer because you can only pound on the keys for a half-hour or an hour per day. Oh shut up. (grin) You’re writing, aren’t you? Yes? Then you’re a real writer.” Me, in yesterday’s Journal post (Just sayin’)

Missing Links

Two astute readers (Thanks, Russ and KC) pointed out that two of my “Of Interest” links didn’t imbed. One is from yesterday’s post, and one is from the post on November 21.

Sorry for any inconvenience. From now on, I’ll double-check the post on Substack before I hit Send. In the meantime, here’s the link that was missing from yesterday’s post:

Reader – Writer – Friday, The Sacrifice Fly

An Addendum

If you click that link and read that TKZ post today, I hope you’ll also read not only my comment, but all the comments in reponse to mine.

They are revealing. Notice all the qualifiers. The myths are strong at TKZ.


I hate it when a response implies that I said or wrote something I didn’t.

I never said writing should take priority over family. I only said I personally plan ahead so I can do my job (write) and still spend time with my family. (But I do that every day of the year, not just on holidays. I’m a writer. Writers write.)

I also never said I’m driven to write because I feel “guilty” about not writing or any such nonsense.

Finally, I never said writers aren’t “real” writers if they don’t write every day (first Quote of the Day). Quite the contrary. See the second Quote of the Day.

Cops don’t put on the uniform and work a shift every day either, but they’re still cops. But

  • I wouldn’t call myself a cop if I didn’t put on the uniform and make my shift.
  • I wouldn’t call msyelf a carpetenter if I only thought about or talked about building things with wood.
  • And I wouldn’t call myself a writer if I didn’t write, or if I only talked about or thought about writing.

That’s why I so often get disheartened when I visit TKZ and see all these folks whose mantra is “whatever works for you is fine.” If that’s true, why are they bothering to dole out advice? But notice that they also never define the word “works.”

I suspect they mean “whatever you want to do” is fine. Including thinking about writing and talking about writing instead of putting new words on the page. But of course, that’s true too. Whatever you want to do is fine. You don’t have to be a writer.

This Journal is a no-bullshit zone.

If you don’t want the truth about actually writing, actually putting new words on the page, you’re probably wasting your time here.

If all you want is new excuses for not writing, or justification for the excuses you already use, you would be much better served almost anywhere on the internet but at the Journal, including TKZ.

Just to be clear (and deep inside, you know this)…

  • Jotting down ideas is not writing.
  • Researching, while sometimes necessary, is not writing.
  • Outlining, revising, rewriting or consulting critique groups is not writing.
  • Thinking about writing or talking about writing is not writing.
  • “Write” is an action verb. Writing is putting new words on the page.

If “whatever works” is a way to put new words on the page, then yes, whatever works is fine.

You Do You

All of that said, if you, like so many, are perfectly happy using your most valuable commodity — Time — to plot, plan, revise, rewrite, think about writing, talk about writing, await input from whomever about your writing, or do anything else other than putting new words on the page, that’s also fine.

If you’d rather write, my Quiet the Critical Voice book is still available free. All you have to do is ask.

I’ve thought before about not bothering to visit TKZ. Yesterday’s experience made me certain of it. I won’t visit there again, and I won’t link to anything from there again.

They’re just too steeped in the myths, and I’m too tired of fighting the current. If they want to tread water ’til they drown, that’s their choice. But I hate that professional writers are spreading those same myths to so many beginning and would-be writers. I guess doing so gives them a larger audience for their nonfiction writing books in which they expound on the same myths.

If you want to visit and learn from the actual masters at TKZ (there are a few), do so. But shield yourself against the myths. As I would advise you if you were about to cross a cow pasture in New Mexico, try to smell the BS and avoid it rather than stepping in it.

Mutual-admiration societies are not conducive to growth in any endeavor, especially writing.

I’ll never stop wondering why so many writers are so dead-set against people who actually enjoy writing and who can do so without all the drama. The only thing I can figure is it’s easier to defend their fears and the myths than to face them and overcome them.

But hey, whatever you want to do.

The Other Missing Link

Oh, and here’s the link that was missing from the Journal post of November 21: The Timeless Power of Universal Themes in Fiction

A Timely Irony

Ironically, I had a short writing day yesterday. Go figure.

My son is visiting from up north. He, my wife and I planned to visit our favorite antique store, about 50 miles from here. And that’s fine. As I keep saying, what matters with word count and production is Average.

I planned ahead, but plans go awry. I didn’t get up as early as I hoped. Then I dealt with the fervor hit from the responses to my comment over at TKZ. After that I spent some time on today’s Journal post. Then, finally, I wrote.

As I write this (yesterday), I’ve cycled through my current novel and added only around 500 words. I’m not sure what the fiction numbers below will reflect. I might well miss my daily word-count goal yesterday because spending time with my family is indeed more important than writing. Duh.

But time lost is time lost. It simply is what it is. And whatever the word count is for yesterday, I could have written at least two or three thousand more words if I had never commented on that stupid TKZ post in the first place.

Don’t trust everyone who tells you that comments are welcome and asks enticing questions. Chances are, the person who posts and maybe some others will work in some innuendo and half-truths.

So just sayin’, before you leave a comment anywhere, look around carefully for amberries.

You know what those are, right? They grow on ambushes.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest


The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1240

Writing of Blackwell Ops 14: Charlie Task

Day 1…… 1359 words. To date…… 1359
Day 2…… 3002 words. To date…… 4361
Day 3…… 3349 words. To date…… 7710
Day 4…… 1687 words. To date…… 9397

Fiction for November…………………… 61765
Fiction for 2023…………………………. 380409
Fiction since August 1………………… 45105
Nonfiction for November……………… 23410
Nonfiction for the year……………… 251300
Annual consumable words………… 628202

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 8
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 7
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 79
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 235
Short story collections…………………… 31

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Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.


4 thoughts on “Missing Links and an Addendum”

  1. They always say ‘whatever works for you’ until you tell them you don’t rewrite. You don’t use critique groups. Don’t ask for feedback and that you trust yourself. THEN they contradict themselves and tell you that you’ll never write anything good. That you’re writing ‘wrong’.
    For me, if someone wants to outline and plot everything, more power to them. I think its just as valid as writing into the dark. I don’t see any right way to write, just your way.
    But, I will say that it seems that, while I do know a few people who genuinely do enjoy outlining and creating the work from the ground up, many just do it because they think they have to. That to be a ‘real’ writer one must plot, plan, and construct every building block of a story.
    As much as I do think some people work better as plotters, many others would benefit more by writing into the dark, but they are too afraid to even entertain the thought.

    • Yep, like I said in the Journal, I don’t want to change anyone’s mind. I just hate that they’re spreading that poison to new and would-be writers.

      The key word is “create.” The conscious, critical mind can “create” nothing. It can only construct.

  2. I would add a lot more to your thoughs.
    The thing is it’s impossible to explain how write “better” or “more interesting”.
    There’re some people with big troubles with writing readable texts and it’s not spelling. Their text looks grammatically correct, but it’s impossible to understand what is it all about. But it’s impossible to explain them what’s wrong and how make it better. PhD in applied linguistics is needed even to understand what kind of mistake was it.
    Even this basic stuff is hard to explain. Even harder is explain what stories are interesting and what is not.
    So people need fads to be sure in things nobody can be sure at.

    • I’m probably losing something in the translation, but to me that’s all BS.

      If the writer is stying to “understand” what it’s all about, that’s the conscious, critical mind. If you make the story unimportant, just a story, that need to understand will disappear. The need to attempt to “explain what’s wrong” and “make it better” or that anything is a “mistake” is also a function of the critical mind.

      What I am “sure” of is that if you write a story as it unfolds, regardless of language or mistakes, it will be an authentic story. And nobody can write “better” than that.

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