The Daily Journal, Saturday, June 1

In today’s Journal

* Thanks for the comments
* By the way, Blackwell Ops 6
* By the way (again)
* By the way, Part 3
* It’s already June 1
* Topic: Quieting the Critical Mind (Chapter 11)
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

Thanks for the comments, Diane and Karen. They not only encouraged me (see what you did?), but they also help the Journal’s visibility on search engines.

Interesting to me that Diane Darcy is a USA Today bestselling author and that Karen Riggs is a relative beginner. Yet neither is willing to accept “good enough” and both are hungry to learn.

I like that.

By the way, Blackwell Ops 6 (remember that series?) officially released this morning. I was reminded when I received an email from Books2Read. You can find Blackwell Ops 6: Charlie Task, at

By the way (again), in light of the WIP being the 11th novel in the Wes Crowley saga, and considering that it will almost certainly be completed by the end of June…

I’ve decided to make a special offer only to you, the readers of the Daily Journal.

If you’d like to read the first ten novels of the saga, you can download it from Smashwords at for only $10 (half-price). If you go that route, during checkout apply coupon code PT88Q (not case-sensitive).

OR you can email me at and let me know you want it. I’ll send you the book in Kindle, Nook/Apple or PDF format for the same price. (You can pay me via PayPal at the same email address or by mailing a check to PO Box 604, St. David AZ 85630-0604.)

As an added bonus (grin), you’ll get to see for yourself how my own writing has changed over the past five years. Book 4 of the saga (Leaving Amarillo) was actually the first novel I ever wrote. Then I wrote Books 5 & 6, then 1-3 and 7-10 (with other out-of-saga novels in between).

All of that being said, in full disclosure the WIP also reads well as a stand-alone novel.

Of course, donors at any level will get the WIP as soon as it’s finished and back from my first readers.

By the way, Part 3—every now and then, folks email to say they liked something in the Journal, yet they very seldom (if ever) leave a comment on the Journal site itself.

In contract, those who read the PWW blog pretty much always leave a comment on that blog.

And of course, comments left on a blog help with the search-engine visibility of that blog.

I’m not being critical here At All (I promise), but just posing a survey:

  1. In your opinion, am I screwing up by not sending only an excerpt of the Journal instead of sending the whole shebang in the email from MailChimp?
  2. Would you personally be more inclined to leave a comment on the site if you received only an excerpt in your mailbox (and had to click through to the site to read the whole post)?

Feel free to respond to this two-question survey either by leaving a comment or by emailing me directly at I’d really like your input on this.

Wow. June 1 already. And 2019! Frankly, I’m still wondering where 1978 went. (grin) Anyway, today will probably be a short day. I’d planned to get out here early (which I did) and to dive into the novel (which I did not).

Instead, this happened:

Topic: The “Requirements” of Writing Into the Dark

Every writing technique seems to levy its own set of requirements.

I don’t know the name of it (or whether it has a name) but the most stringent requirements are levied by the method taught in most schools at every level from junior high school through university. We’ll call this…

Method One.

The overall requirement of this method is that you stay in the conscious, critical mind before, during and after writing. That you ascend into an authorial ivory tower and control every aspect of the story from there.

This is the popular method that is presented in three stages.

STAGE  ONE requires a lot of preparation before the writer ever writes the first word of the actual story: character sketches, outlining, etc.

When all of that is done, only then can the writer proceed to

STAGE  TWO: filling in the gaps in the outline with the details of the actual story. But always meticulously, word by carefully selected word, sentence by meticulously crafted sentence.

Have you heard writers say they’re lucky to finish a page (250 words) in a day? Yeah, they’re partaking of this method and (I’d bet) working from an outline.

The writer who embraces this method knows the beginning, middle and end of the story in advance.

* S/he has charted exactly where to begin the rising action.

* S/he knows precisely where and how badly the character fails in the increasingly difficult try-fail cycles.

* And s/he knows when to ramp-up the action for the massive climax in which the protagonist finally succeeds and wins the fair maiden’s hand or outwits the bad guy or defeats the huge, evil, multinational corporation.

(Or dies, in classic tragedy, but even then s/he dies in the success of his/her quest. The Lord of the Rings would be a classic tragedy had the fires of the exploding Mount Doom consumed the hobbits who dropped the ring into the volcano.)

Then, after the writer types The End, comes

STAGE  THREE. During this “testing” stage the writer engages beta readers (I envision the army of droids in whichever Star Wars episode that is).

The beta readers, also in critical mind, critique what the writer has written and remit reams of the same Good Advice that has been bouncing around between non-writers and “trained” writers for the last five or six decades.

(Well, maybe it isn’t an army of droid-like beta readers, and maybe they don’t remit “reams” of advice. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but only a little.)

This perpetual-motion machine began operation at about the same time university professors received the mandate to “publish or perish,” but that’s a topic for another time.

Then, when our intrepid writer receives the input from the beta readers, s/he begins the first of what s/he anticipates will be several rewrites.

Wait, what?

From the back of the class in the Dunce Section — and I write “Dunce” because some might be offended by “the Dumbass Section” or even by “the Original Thought Section” — I have a question.

And I’m fervent about it. I’m practically leaping from my chair, my hand straining toward the ceiling. Like a simian who hasn’t been to the bathroom all day, I’m yelling “Ooh! Ooh!” at the top of my lungs.

But the teacher won’t call on me.

Because she already knows what my question will be. It will make too much sense and be impossible for her to answer.

My question is this: “If the writer meticulously planned everything in advance, then ‘crafted’ the story carefully word-by-word and sentence-by-sentence, why does s/he now have to rewrite? Huh? Why?”

But as I said, the teacher won’t call on me. Hey, I know me. I probably wouldn’t call on me either.

But it’s still a valid question, isn’t it? And it’s a question for which nobody has yet offered up an answer.

And really, it’s impossible to answer. It’s a paradox, like the question about God and that big rock.

If God is omnipotent, can He create a rock so large and heavy that even He can’t move it? (But if He can’t move it, is He really omnipotent?)

Same question here. If the writer meticulously planned everything in advance, then ‘crafted’ the story carefully word by word and sentence by sentence, why does s/he now have to rewrite?
And if s/he has to rewrite, then why didn’t s/he plan MORE meticulously and craft MORE carefully in the first place?


Just to give it due time, let me talk for a second about the second major writing technique. We’ll call this one…

Method Two.

Now Method Two is a hybrid. It even invokes the subconscious creative mind, sort of.

I say “sort of” because those who use this method are actually training their subconscious creative mind that it’s worthless and untrusted.

In this technique, writers are enouraged to “freewrite,” which by most definitions means rambling along in the general direction of the story line. So far so good, right?

These writers too are expected to prepare character sketches and an outline in advance (though they don’t have to), but when it comes to the actual writing, they’re encouraged to “write sloppy, just get the words on the page so you have something to edit later.”

Bingo. Write sloppy so you have something to edit later. Right there you’re teaching your creative subconscious not to bother contributing its best work. Why? Because no matter what it does, you’re going to call on the conscious, critical mind to “correct” it anyway.

Closely akin to this group are those who tout the ageless wisdom “Write. You can’t edit a blank page.” Many of those writers who accept the (to me, derogatory) term “pantser” fit into this category as well.

(And yes, I find that term derogatory. After all, I don’t call those who squeeze a plot point so hard it screams “plodders.”)


And then there’s the third major writing technique: “method” sounds a little haughty, so we’ll just call this one…

Writing into the Dark (WITD).

About which, if you’ve been paying attention for the past five-plus years, you already know as much as I do.

All of Which brings us to the reason for this post. I know. Really long intro, huh?

THE  STRENGTH  OF  WRITING  INTO  THE  DARK isn’t derived from requirements.

The strength of Writing into the Dark is derived from Letting Go of requirements.

Unlike Method One above, Writing into the Dark asks that you let go of all the nonsense you’ve been taught and Just Write. But again, letting go isn’t a requirement.

You can still prepare character sketches and outlines and then write off into the dark.

The difference is, when your characters do things that aren’t in line with the character sketches you created, you get rid of or change the character sketches (instead of forcing the characters back into line as you would under Method One).

And when the story veers off in a direction not anticipated on your meticulously planned outline, you go back and correct the outline to bring it in line with the story (instead of “correcting” the story and forcing it back into line with the outline).

And unlike both Methods One and Two, Writing into the Dark asks that you follow Heinlein’s Rule 3: Don’t rewrite.

Okay, this one’s pretty much a requirement, but not really. You CAN go ahead and rewrite, but if you do, be prepared to suffer those little nausea-pangs in your gut when your subconscious screams, “No! Don’t do that!” and you do it anyway. If you don’t know what I mean yet, you will.

Really, Writing into the Dark “requires” only a realization: that it isn’t “your” story. That the characters, not you, are living it, so in actuality it’s their story. So who better to tell it than them?

Methods One and Two require you to ascend into the Authorial Ivory (Control) Tower for the purpose of manipulating the characters and story like puppets on a string.

Writing into the Dark recommends you strip off the tux and lux (my made-up term for luxury shoes) or the formal ball gown and spike heels, put on jeans, a t-shirt and running shoes, and roll off the parapet into the trenches of the story WITH your characters.

There — while the “authors” struggle with the staggering responsibility of tugging just hard enough on just the right string at just the right time — you, a mere “writer,” will be racing wildly through the story WITH your characters, laughing and doing your level best to keep up as you scribble down what they say and do.

So tell me… who do you suppose enjoys the writing process more? Who do you suppose has more fun?

And much more importantly, who do you suppose tells the more authentic story in their own voice and style?

Back tomorrow with what I expect will be the final chapter of the Critical Mind book.

Rolled out early at 2 this morning. Checked email, etc. then wrote the topic above. It too will probably end up in the Critical Mind book.

I might not make it to the WIP this morning at all. I still have to find items for “Of Interest” and then update my spreadsheet to get it ready for June. (I should have done that last night, but I forgot.)

To the house for a brief break, partly to see whether the trip to Sierra Vista is still on for today. If so, I won’t write fiction today and will post this early. If not, well…. (grin)

No trip to SV today. Finally finished collecting items for “Of Interest” (there’s a lot there) and turned to the novel at 7.

But there was too much other going on. I wrote (I dunno) maybe three or four hundred words on the novel, if that, but was constantly distracted with Other Stuff, all of which was important.

So I’m closing this tome out early. I’ll spend the day doing Other Things and get back to the WIP tomorrow. I’ll count what little I wrote today then. An auspicious beginning for June, eh? (grin)

Have a great weekend, eveyone!

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See Michaele Lockhart’s “The Power of Particularity” at

Very interesting comments (aside from mine) on “How Is The Writing Going?” at

See “Again” at

See “Why Do Employers Lowball Creatives?” at Great comments following the post too.

In a related note, see Harlan Ellison’s take on creatives being paid (or not) at

See TPG’s take on “On the Existential Fear of Losing Your Online Persona” at Some great tips in this one.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 2350 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 2350

Writing of In the Cantina at Noon (novel)

Day 20… 1890 words. Total words to date…… 36451
Day 21… 2961 words. Total words to date…… 39412
Day 22… 1192 words. Total words to date…… 40604
Day 23… 1718 words. Total words to date…… 42322
Day 24… 2313 words. Total words to date…… 44635
Day 25… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 0
Total fiction words for the year………… 306105
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2350
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 157910
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 464015

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 6
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 194
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

10 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Saturday, June 1”

  1. Very nice, Mr. Stanbrough. However, there is one “requirement” for WITD. I suppose it’s the same requirement that any relationship would need. It’s trust. A writer must be able to trust his characters. And then trust him/herself to follow them and document their stories. That’s my take on the subject. Writers who have difficulty letting go in other endeavors might find WITD a challenge too. So–Trust is absolutely needed.

    • Yep. As I wrote above, the writer who wants to WITD must realize that the characters, not the writer, are living the story. To me, that’s what’s important. It’s the characters’ story, so who better to tell it than them? Writers either realize and understand that or they don’t.

      As for trusting the characters… I’ve written characters I can trust and I’ve written characters I can’t trust. Usually in the same novel.

      So whether or not the writer trusts the characters, it’s important to get [critical mind] out of the way and let the characters tell the story.

  2. So, I’m a rambler, just warning you now. But you asked and I felt compelled to answer. Just found your journal site a few weeks ago, and I really love reading it, but since it feels like a personal journal to me, I read it on my phone, using feedly. I’d still read it if it were excerpts only (I think that’s how my blog is set up to be honest) but it wouldn’t make much difference about commenting because commenting on a blog on my phone is a PITA.

    I read the prowriters site (just found it a few days ago) and I’m not much for leaving comments on writing topics because… well, because I don’t have a lot to say about it. I’ve written a few books (19 novels now, I think) and I *still* feel like I don’t know how to tell someone else how to write. It’s all so personal. It’s also funny, because back when I was in my early twenties, I had a website and wasn’t shy at all about giving writing advice. The more you know, the more you realize how little you know. 😀 However, it’s a lot easier to comment on a site like that because if I read it as part of my writing day, I’m usually at the computer where jotting off a quick comment is easy. 🙂

    As for the panster thing, that word just makes me gag, :D. I’ve been calling myself a discovery writer for years and I don’t let anybody touch my stuff. I don’t even use a first reader, and I left a comment about that on DWS’s site once. (I’ve only ever left a few comments there too, because like I said, I don’t comment often, mostly because I ramble and I end up writing way more than I mean to when I start). I write, I copy edit, I make my covers, and I publish. It’s how I make my living and I don’t want to let anyone else into my art, so I don’t. 🙂

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I personally really enjoy your journal here and it wouldn’t make much difference how I got it for the comments. Mostly I just feel strange commenting on what seems to be a personal journal. 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, Lynn. I appreciate that The Daily Journal “feels” like a personal journal to you. Good to know. I guess I thought maybe the almost-daily topics took it beyond that.

      I’m stymied as to why you don’t publicize your books, genre(s), book titles or even your author name(s) on your website. I understand the desire for anonymity, but it’s difficult for me personally to reconcile that with publishing novels. Care to comment?

      I visited your website at

      • Since I know you follow DWS (and probably KKR, too) I know you’ll get this, but it has to do with letting voices in my office.

        I’ve found I’m particularly susceptible to letting the notion that someone might be watching me, listening to me, reading my things, and judging me affect what I write, so I decided back in 2012 when I started indie publishing that I would keep my writer self and my author self separate.

        So I talk about writing and publishing because I love to talk about it, but I do it as me (Lynn) and I share my books and fiction after the fact as my author self. It probably seems weird to some, but it really does work for me. I’m able to let go and write what I want and need to write, and I do it with a free spirit, unencumbered by voices in my head telling me I shouldn’t, I can’t, or that I will regret it.

        I realize there are ways for people to find out my author names pretty easily, but as long as I don’t know they know, I’m good.

        There are other reasons, but that’s the one that holds the most sway over me.

        Also, thank you for the discussion. 🙂

        • No problem at all. You mentioned somewhere on your site that you linked your books back to your author site (good advice). That’s why I asked in the first place. I see no way to find your author site unless I just happen across it, and even then I won’t know. But it’s all good.

  3. Thanks for the mention, and for linking to my website, and the discount at Smashwords. I look forward to reading the stories. It’s interesting the order you wrote them in, but completely in line with the way you write a single novel. Your topic was a bit painful to read. I stayed in method one for far too long, then method two, and am really giving WITD an honest try. I want to have fun with this. I’m recognizing that if I don’t, I’ll end up quitting. Probably not consciously, but by drifting away and getting nothing done. (Lol! I accidentally posted this at DWS. Too many websites open at the same time. Oh, well.)

    • Thanks, Diane, and thanks for the comment. Whatever way works for you is the right way. But sitting alone in a room making stuff up shouldn’t be hard. It shouldn’t be a drag and it defintely shouldn’t be drudgery. It’s our imaginary friends living their lives. It’s should be fun to document that.

      Re the novels in that saga, I never planned to write a western. Never even thought about it. But this character tugged on my sleeve, and away we went. I thought the trilogy would finish the story. Then the same character (Wes) tugged on my sleeve again and said, “Hey, what about the early days” And there we went again. At that point I really thought six books would end it. Then he started doing things in Mexico (Coralín blew through the door) and Wes and I were both trapped for four more novels. 🙂 And now an 11th one.

  4. (It’s our imaginary friends living their lives. It’s should be fun to document that.)

    I really like the way you think and explain this. And, lol, it’s very cool that the character shows up like that, asking for more time.

    I’ve found that by letting go of control, or trying to anyway, that ideas from the characters are showing up more frequently now. And have me running to the computer to write stuff down! Haha. I am having more fun, that’s for sure.

    • Thanks. And yep, once you begin to trust the creative subconscious, it will give you all sorts of stuff you never had before. When I hear writers say they can’t come up with ideas, it startles me. I have like “popcorn” characters and ideas popping up all over the place.

      Oh, and trust me, when you get to know Wes (and his horse, Charley) I think you’ll understand why I always answer his calls. (grin)

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