The Daily Journal, Saturday, May 11

In today’s Journal

▪ Today will be a fairly short day
▪ I’m not sure
▪ Topic: I’m a Hack
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest
▪ The numbers

Today will be a fairly short day since it’s Saturday. I’ll spend some time with the WIP, then some time with my wife.

I’m not sure whether I’m actually writing right now (telling a new story, putting new words on the page) so much as taking some enjoyable time AWAY from actual writing. Or more succinctly, away from writing for publication. At least that’s how it feels.

I AM writing, but I’m writing something that’s maybe already been written. To use some silly psycho-babble, I’m “giving myself permission” to just go where I wanna go and do what I wanna do. At the moment, that’s much more important than whether or not this WIP will ever see the light of day.

When this is all through, if the WIP is nothing more than Wes retelling a story that’s already been told, I might not publish it at all. Or I might “publish” it only to my first readers (as a bonus) and to my donors. And I might put it on the website as a free download.

Either way, I will have had the distinct pleasure of spending some quality time with Wes again, and that’s good enough for me.

Plus that attitude keeps me from fretting (critical mind) and keeps me from getting in a hurry.

Topic: I’m a Hack

In today’s Pro Writers Writing post, Michaele Lockhart discusses the term “hack” (the noun), as in a shortcut that some folks seek or use in order to save time and/or keep from having to endure a learning curve.

But that term (again, the noun) also has another meaning. It is often used, derogatorily, to indicate a writer who is suspected of taking such a shortcut, primarily in quality.

By that definition, I am a hack. Not that I actually take any shortcuts, but those who don’t know me or know only my output suspect me of taking shortcuts. How else could I write as much as I do and publish it as often as I do?

Most of us have heard even the more-famous writers from the pulp era referred to as hacks. Never mind that their work has been around, and popular, for close to 80 years. And I know novelists today who are referred to (or even refer to themselves) as hacks or hack writers.

In actuality, writers whom some call “hacks” aren’t taking shortcuts at all. Actually, they have a work ethic, meaning they spend more time in the chair.

Writing a 100,000 word novel — again, where “writing” is defined as “putting new words on the “page” — takes about 100 hours.

If a writer spreads that 100 hours over a period of a year (so about 274 words per day, on average) or two or three years (a lot fewer words per day), there is a greater chance critics will believe his work must be of good quality.

But if another writer compresses those same 100 hours into one month (3334 words per day), he must be a hack.

The real difference, of course, is that the first writer has plenty of non-writing time to edit, revise, rewrite and polish his original voice off the work. And yes, those are all non-writing pursuits.

Meanwhile, the second writer has told a good story and moved on to the next one. And the next one. And the next one.

At the end of that year, the first writer will have a sanitized, sterile (and probably boring) story that smells of disinfectant and sounds exactly like all the others in the genre.

At the end of that same year, if he can keep up the pace, the “hack” will have written TWELVE good stories — and moved on to the next one.

The thing is

  • Professional long-term writers don’t hover over one work, editing, revising, etc. They write.
  • Professional long-term writers don’t look back. They look forward.

As a result they turn out more work more quickly, which creates the illusion (and false assumption) that their writing can’t possibly be of good quality. All silliness.

Professional writers, by and large, have settled with the idea that they are entertainers, nothing more or less. Their stories exist to entertain readers, not to change society or the world.

If that’s what a hack is, I’m proud to be counted among them.

Rolled out right on time at 3. Spent some time reading things for “Of Interest,” writing the stuff above, and screwing off.

Taking a break at 6:30.

Back to the Hovel and back to the WIP at 7:20.

The word counts will grow slowly for the next day or two as I’m still shifting things around. No sweat. Still having an absolute ball. The “Fiction Words” below are all new words.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Mixing It Up With Nonfiction” at

See “Three Tips For Finding A Short Story Idea” at Thought I’d include this, mostly because it’s a slow news day.

In the same vein, see “Three Ways That Writers Make Stories Faster Or Slower To Read” at

If you’re still considering traditional publishing, get your free copy of The 2019 Guide to Manuscript Publishers (who do not require an agent) at

Fiction Words: 1867
Nonfiction Words: 850 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 2717

Writing of In the Cantina at Noon (novel)

Day 1…… 1538 words. Total words to date…… 1538
Day 2…… 2456 words. Total words to date…… 3994
Day 3…… 1876 words. Total words to date…… 5870
Day 4…… 1038 words. Total words to date…… 6908
Day 5…… 5807 words. Total words to date…… 12715
Day 6…… 1957 words. Total words to date…… 14672
Day 7…… 1867 words. Total words to date…… 16539

Total fiction words for the month……… 16539
Total fiction words for the year………… 278009
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12000
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 123860
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 401869

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 6
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 193
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31