The Daily Journal, Saturday, March 2

In today’s Journal

▪ Update on my challenge
▪ Topic: An Admission
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest
▪ The numbers

Man, a short day yesterday, and maybe a short day today and tomorrow. One of my sons and his wife and children are visiting. So I’ll visit. (grin)

Meanwhile, time’s running out on my current novel (for the challenge). I’m also feeling a need for breaks more and more often, not from the WIP, but from the overall challenge.

For the first time, I feel like I might not finish this one by the target date of March 6.

If I don’t, the challenge will still be on. Remember, the challenge itself is to write 10 novels in 150 days, so the average is the big thing.

But I’d much prefer to finish each novel within its allotted 15 calendar days to keep the pressure at bay. I never want writing to turn into work. I want to keep it fun.

But I’ll write when I can today. When I want a cigar or some alone time I’ll come to the Hovel and fire-up the story. (grin)

Topic: An Admission

In yesterday’s topic, I mentioned trying new things. When faced with a new technique, I suggest you don’t get defensive, cross your arms and refuse. In this craft of writing, you really don’t know what will work best for you until you try.

That being said, no one way works for everybody.

And even if it does, it will work differently. You can put your own personal spin on a new thing you pick up from whomever.

Like my unintentional mentor, Dean Wesley Smith, I write off into the dark, meaning I don’t outline. I trust my creative subconscious. It works for me, and I’m so glad it does.

Also like DWS, I write one clean draft, start to finish. When I’m done, I’m done, and I move on to the next story. This is true to the point that I often can’t remember specifics of a short story or novel even a day or two after I finished it.

When my first reader gets back to me with his or her notes, I have to refresh my memory on what the heck s/he’s talking about.

And to write that one clean draft, again like DWS, I “cycle” as I write. Meaning I stay in the creative subconscious state of mind as I read back over what I wrote during the previous writing session, and in that mode I add things here and there as I read (as my characters give me those things).

But that’s where the similarity ends.

(When you edit, if you edit, you’re in the conscious, critical mind. And as Bradbury, Block, Dean, King and countless others have said, nothing good in literature ever came from the conscious mind.

Even if you hire a copyeditor to clean up what you’ve written, that’s fine. But don’t allow them to bring their conscious-mind efforts into the content of your story. Their job is to sweep the floor, not to repaint the walls and hang new ceiling fans.

That being said, by all means, do it your way.)

So I learned writing into the dark, writing one clean draft, and cycling from DWS.

But now those techniques are mine, and I do them differently.

I write into the dark pretty much the same way Dean does. (And the same way Bradbury, Child, and countless others do.) Basically, that means I sit down at the keyboard, put my fingers on the keys, and write whatever comes.

Likewise, when I get “stuck,” I take a break, then come back and Just Write The Next Sentence (again, whatever comes).

But Dean cycles back only once. It’s his rule. It’s how he does things, and it works for him.

More often than not, I cycle back the initial time through what I wrote in the previous session (so 800 to 1200 words) each time I sit down to begin a new session. So that’s still pretty much in line with what Dean does, except he stops and cycles back about every 500 words or so.

And later, especially if I have to go back to Chapter 3 and add some foreshadowing for something my characters spring on me in Chapter 16, I’ll add that bit of foreshadowing.

But then, often as not, I’ll read forward from there, again in the subconscious, creative mind and again allowing myself to add things my characters want to add. (Most often, in my case, that’s a little more description here and there.)

It isn’t uncommon for me to read through five or six thousand words and add maybe 100 words. But the story is tighter for it.

So in all, Dean cycles through his novel one time in 500-word chunks and is done with it. He prints it out and lays it on the desk of his first reader, who also happens to be Kristine Kathryn Rusch, of of the most-awarded writers and editors of all time.

So that’s my admission: I don’t cycle like Dean does. I do it in a way that works for me.

I cycle through any given novel probably three to six times, and sometimes more. Depends on the novel, how intricate it is, etc.

Some would say I’m editing as I go or some such nonsense. But I’m not. I’m still not “editing” or “rewriting” or “revising.” All of those are accomplished with the conscious, critical mind.

I’m just cycling, keeping myself in the creative subconscious. If I feel myself starting to slip into critical mode, I get up and walk away for awhile.

How do you tell the difference between your creative subconscious and your critical, conscious mind?

The creative subconscious is always positive. It’s never negative. If you feel negativitiy creeping in, that’s the critical, conscious mind.

The critical, conscious mind is always critical. It’s always negative. It’s the part of your mind that makes you question your sentence structure and length. It’s the part that makes you wonder whether you’ve used “that” too many times. And it’s to be avoided while writing.

The conscious and subconscious both have roles for a writer, though. The most succinct way I’ve heard it put is this:

Learn with the conscious mind, but write with the subconscious mind.

What you absorb while learning with the conscious mind — what is useful and “right” for you — will seep through to your subconscious, like crossing Ts and dotting I’s and putting a period or a question mark at the end of a sentence. You learned all of those things with your conscious mind.

But create (write) with the subconscious. Write without thinking. Your characters, who live in your subconscious, will give you what you need when you need it.

That’s my suggestion. But think it through for yourself:

Do you have to stop and consciously remember to cross a T or dot an I or put a period at the end of a sentence?

Of course not.

So when you’re writing, trust yourself. It only gets better from here.

Rolled out late just after 3:30, shortening the day even more. Wrote all of the above, and checked the internet, which I found lacking.

What’s worse, my computer restarted overnight. When I opened Blackwell Ops 4, my heart leapt into my throat.

The word count was 18,865. It stopped two paragraphs into Chapter 11.

So I closed the ugly thing and hastily riffled through my files. Sure enough, I found a “conflicted” copy that was the right one: at 26,680 words, it was well into Chapter 16. Whew!

Always Save Your Work.

To the novel at 6. Wrote about 500 words and up to the house.

Back to the write a bit at 8:40. About another 1100 words and back to the house.

Back to the Hovel at 11:30 and I ended the day with a long session.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Social Life of a Writer” at You might find it interesting. Kind of bland.

See “Taking Inspiration from The Night Witches” at

See “A Double Murder Mystery and Slovakia’s Most Prominent Villain” at

Fiction Words: 3140
Nonfiction Words: 1380 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4520

Writing of Blackwell Ops 4: Melanie Sloan (novel)

Day 10… 1235 words. Total words to date…… 26680
Day 11… 3140 words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 4375
Total fiction words for the year………… 163433
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2920
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 54140
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 217573

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date………………………… 3
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date……… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 40
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 193
Short story collections…………………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Saturday, March 2”

  1. I cycle differently from both you and Dean, so much so that DWS thought I was in critical mode and revising. My creative brain both puts in too much and not enough. It tries out a lot of different things and some of them stick in the story and some don’t. Plus I breed typos. So I continuously cycle to hunt down typos and add more detail to the thin spots. I just did a short story, and I had to cycle through a dozen times because I couldn’t quite figure out what I needed to do to wrap up the validation at the end. There was a lot of take out and rearrange before the pieces fit together. For a novel, as I’m getting near the end, I’ll suddenly have an urge to cycle through the entire book. I connect up at the big picture level, which is natural for me and feel for the flow of the story. I sometimes rearrange scenes, or eliminate a character…anything that doesn’t fit. And I find stubs. Stubs are usually a few sentences here and there that creative brain puts into the story, thinking it’ll do something later on…and then never does. Sort of like having a character find a gun….looks important and then I never revisit it. I usually don’t have too many of those, but I always have some I need to clean up because my creative brain is messy and like to play in the mud.

    • Whatever works for you. Re creative subconscious vs. critical conscious, just bear in mind (if it’s important to you) the critical mind can creep in without you realizing it at first. And I speak from experience. (grin) I only mention it because my process used to be very much like yours if I’m reading it right. It takes practice to keep that negative, critical guy in his cage. (grin)

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