Teaching, Helping, and Don’t Buy the Lies

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Welcome
* Quiet the Critical Voice Book Offer
* I Love Teaching and I Love Helping
* Don’t Buy the Lies
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“You can’t be scared. You have to just do what you think is right.” Vincent Zandri (see Of Interest)

Quiet the Critical Voice Book Offer

If anyone reading this has not yet read Quiet the Critical Voice (and Write Fiction) it’s still available free of charge directly from me. All you have to do is email me. Let me know which e-format you would like.

As I was telling a writer who’s new to the Journal yesterday…

I Love Teaching and I Love Helping

Almost as much as I love writing fiction.

That’s why I occasionally give away nonfiction books and that’s why I respond fairly quickly to emails. It’s even the sole reason I write this Journal.

But I am also not attached to Outcome. I can only pass along the information. I hope you get it, and I very much want you to get it. I’ll even do anything I can to help you get it. You only have to email me and ask.

But what you choose to do — whether you choose to surrender to the myths or free yourself from them — is strictly up to you.

If you don’t get it or if you refuse to try, I won’t lie awake at night and wonder why.

Not because I’m crass and unfeeling, but because I don’t have time for that. I have another novel to write, another story to convey for my characters. Because, you know, I’m a writer.

Whether you believe what other people (including me) say to you is up to you. But I will never lie to you, and I have no ulterior motives. I know better than anyone that you can’t sell fiction to writers, even those who want to learn from you.

That’s why I’m actually writing a novel in public right now, averaging two chapters per day (about ten minutes’ reading). You can find links to the current novel in yesterday’s post. Scroll down to “Session Three Posted.”

Don’t Buy the Lies

Writing into the dark isn’t a process. It’s the letting-go of a process.

I only know WITD works because about 9 years ago I took a deep breath, pulled up my big boy pants, and plunged in. I wanted to give it an honest try. Why? To prove to myself it wouldn’t work.

But it did, and here we are.

In WITD, there are no rules except to let go of all the rules and all the BS people throw at you about how you “should” write.

I despise people who are always trying to “should” on someone else. Do they really even care?

Well, yes, but not about you. They care about selling you their nonfiction books on writing.

They know that chances are good, if you buy into the myths they’re spewing, at least some of your hard-earned cash will go to them and their nonfiction books — all of which say exactly the same things all the other shysters’ nonfiction books say.

That’s another reason I give mine away free at times: because my nonfiction books DON’T say what all the others say. I’m proud of that, and I want people to know it.

I’m also very aware that I’m swimming against the stream here. And of course, it’s much easier to notice the stream than it is to notice the one little guy in the world who’s swimming against it.

Granted, some writers are just weak. And it’s always easier to “go along to get along” with your critique group or whatever than it is to stand up and do something for yourself. Even if that something is a far easier way to write.

By the way, you’re all swimming along with me, struggling against the tide of myths that comprise current “wisdom” on writing fiction. If you weren’t, or if you weren’t at least hoping to learn how to swim against the flow and actually improve as a writer, you wouldn’t be reading this.

Even after all these years, this Journal has something under 200 subscribers.

That isn’t even a drop in the water when you consider the millions of writers and would-be writers out there. And many of them, drowning in the myths, literally give-up and stop writing, either stories or novels or altogether.

That’s what buying into the myths will do for you: stop you from writing. Well, unless you’re a glutton for punishment and enjoy the “drudgery” of writing fiction that writers who don’t write into the dark often talk about.

But you can decide to let go of all that nonsense, put your fingers on the keyboard, access your characters and their story — the story that THEY, NOT YOU are living — then trust them and yourself and just write whatever comes.

Just lend the characters your fingers. They’ll do the rest.

And soon after that, you’ll also learn to be detached from Outcome. You will stop worrying about sales or who likes or doesn’t like your work or why.

Sure, you’ll still promote your work, and with any luck, you’ll tell others about this Journal. But your primary task will be to write more stories and novels. Because you aren’t an advertising exec or a promoter or whatever. You’re a writer.

You’ll even stop reading silly reviews, good or bad, because you’ll eventually come to understand that what others think of your work doesn’t matter.

The story or novel has zero individual importance exept the importance each particular reader puts on it. And again, that’s none of your business.

Remember that you really are the worst judge of your own work. But that’s true whether you love it or hate it. Because your opinion doesn’t matter.

Nobody’s opinion of your work matters. What’s beautiful to some is ugly as a bat’s butt to others and vice versa. Again, it’s simply none of your business.

The only thing that matters, the only thing that’s important, is that you write the next story or novel, and the next, and the next. And that matters only because you’ve assumed the job title: writer.

A garage mechanic isn’t really a garage mechanic unless s/he repairs car engines. A lawyer isn’t really a lawyer unless s/he practices law in one way or another. A doctor isn’t a doctor unless s/he practices medicine or a related discipline.

Do you know anyone in any other profession who goes around saying s/he’s a carpenter or a plumber or a cop or a musician or whatever else if s/he doesn’t actuall practice in that profession? If s/he only reads-about or talks-about or thinks-about doing what s/he professes to be?

I don’t think so. And the harsh truth is, you aren’t a writer unless you write.

To the story itself, YOU don’t even matter. You’re only the conduit, the characters’ fingers.

So get over yourself already. Instead of trying to construct and control everything from some ivory tower, slip on a pair of jeans, a pair of sneakers or boots, and a t-shirt. (The ball cap or Indiana Jones fedora is optional.) Then roll off the parapet into the trenches of the story and just try to keep up as you race through the story with your characters.

Be your characters’ recorder — or as Stephen King, the only Stage 5 writer working today, calls himself — their stenographer. All you have to do is write down what happens and how the characters react to it with their dialogue and actions.

It really is that simple.

All of that said, don’t feel obligated to take my advice. Like I said, I’m not attached to the outcome of this post.

WITD is lying there unobtrusively against the curb, a life-changing bit of currency. But it isn’t attractive because it doesn’t look like all the other bills in neat, banded stacks that you’ve seen in movies and heard about all your life. It’s wrinkled and crinkled and all balled up, but it’s still literally a life-changing chunk of change.

Will you risk the split-second decision to pick it up, flatten it out and change your writing life forever?

Shrug. I dunno. That’s strictly up to you.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Heinlein’s Rule Whiff and Other Rants

I Broke Almost All Of Elmore Leonard’s Rules Of Writing

English poet John Keats born (1795)

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1410

Writing of Blackwell Ops 13: Jenna Crowley

Day 1…… 3815 words. To date……3815
Day 2…… 3116 words. To date…… 6931
Day 3…… 3090 words. To date…… 10021
Day 4…… 4073 words. To date…… 14094

Fiction for October…………………… 97655
Fiction for 2023………………………… 315197
Fiction since August 1………………… 200650
Nonfiction for October……………… 29550
Nonfiction for the year……………… 227890
Annual consumable words………… 543027

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 6
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 7
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 77
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.