The Daily Journal, Sunday, August 4

In today’s Journal

* If you want to read in graphic detail
* Show of hands
* Topic: On Critique (and Other) Groups and the Stages of Writing
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

If you want to read in graphic detail why the myths of writing don’t work and why most writers who cling to those myths eventually fade away, see “When Writers Hit The Wall” at

For my take, see my comment on that post. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. (grin)

Show of Hands

How many of you are licensing photos from online royalty-free stock photo agencies for use in your ebook and/or print book covers?

I’m having some interesting email discussions with DWS and a writer/photographer friend regarding licensing photographs and other art for use in ebook-cover and book-cover designs (so “derivative works”).

Those are different licenses, by the way. Both are non-exclusive, but the “standard” agreement allows for ebook covers and other “web” uses. For print (paper) covers and other print uses, you really need to acquire the extended (slightly more expensive) license.

More than likely, I’ll be writing a full topic on these and related matters in the future. Interesting stuff.

Topic: On Critique (and Other) Groups and the Stages of Writing

Yesterday my friend Michaele Lockhart posted an excellent article at PWW. The comment I was going to add there quickly ran long, so I decided to use it here as a topic instead.

When any critique group deterioriates into a mutual-admiration society, as I’ve observed many do, it isn’t doing anybody any good. Feel-good pats on the back are perhaps valuable for a whole other reason, but as an aid to improvement in storytelling ability, not so much.

Likewise, local, regional and even national writer groups that begin over time to cannibalize themselves and become only social get-togethers and a venue for swapping and propagating the same tired old clichés and outright lies are no better. They’re harmful at worst, and their members are marching in place at best.

Of course, there’s the standard disclaimer that every writer is different, with different perceived needs. No general statement could be more true.

But notice I wrote “perceived” needs, not actual needs or simply “needs.”

Writers who are young in the craft, especially those who haven’t yet recognized and discarded the myths we were all taught by non-writers, have less confidence in themselves and their own abilities and knowledge.

Therefore they harbor and even perpetuate a need for external input. They create a self-fulfilling need that feeds their own insecurity. In doing so, they create a harmful, self-perpetuating cycle.

They see their work as less than adequate unless they allow input from others, so they continue to actively seek and accept that input—and thereby stunt their own growth as writers.

These writers (all stage one and stage two) believe they need to hover over their story and rely on others’ input to make it better (read “perfect it”).

Unfortunately, they also believe they know as much about writing as they’ll ever need to know. And their unwavering reliance on the crutch of external input only adds to that fallacy.

Soon these writers stop seeking or listening to advice even from writers much farther along the craft-of-writing path than they are.

On the far end of the same scale are the self-actualized writers. These are all stage three and four writers. They range from writers who are on their way up to masters of the craft.

These writers continue to study and practice the craft. They understand there is always more to learn and they’re hungry to learn it.

Finally, they recognize plainly that no single opinion (no critique, no review) is any more valid than any other. As a result they have long ago eschewed the need for any external input except as they might glean from reading and studying masterful works.

And of course there are multiple levels between the two.

But make no mistake, which level the individual writer is on depends solely on that writer’s perception of his own ability and his own perceived need.

I urge you to assess yourself honestly from time to time to determine which level you’re on as a writer. Knowing that level can be invaluable.

For example, I’m an advanced stage-three fiction writer. By that I mean my craft is at a high level, but I know I still have a ton to learn and am actively and eagerly engaged in learning it.

In the business of writing, though, I’m early (barely) stage-three. I’ve shed the myths about business, but I still have a lot more to learn about that than about the craft of writing itself.

How does knowing my level(s) help me?

As a fiction writer I seldom listen to advice even from other stage-three writers (the ones I listen to know who they are). And I never listen (other than politely) to advice from stage-one or stage-two writers. I’m also fortunate to have been born with an instructor gene, so I share what I know with those who will listen.

On the business side I seek out and heed the advice of pretty much any indie publisher who’s enjoyed more than a modicum of success. That doesn’t mean I leap through hoops to initiate their advice, but I do at least give it serious consideration.

And the more successful they are and the longer they maintain that level of success, the more seriously I consider their advice.

My advice to you (if you want it)? Avoid any critique group that doesn’t include Stephen King and others at his level of mastery.

And in that writers’ group you belong to? Go, socialize, enjoy. That’s what it’s there for.

But if you hear any writing clichés floating about, understand that socializing is the only real value of that group.

Rolled out a little after 2.

It’s Sunday. I’ll do a little more reading, but I feel like that’s coming to an end. As for the rest of the day, I don’t know.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Copyright Class 2 – Originality and Ideas” at

See “An Argument for the CASE Act” at

See “Self Publishing Helps Local Author…” at

See “‘Close’ Proximity, ‘End’ Result, and More…” at

See “Keep the story moving” at

As kind of a catch-all, see “This Week in the Blogs…” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1080 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 1080

Writing of ()

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 358737
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5130
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 223200
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 581937

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 194
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31