The Daily Journal, Thursday, July 18

In today’s Journal

* Update
* Topic: On Writing “Fast”
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers


I got most of what I wanted to tranfer to Mona done yesterday (files, URLs, etc.). I say “most” because I’m sure other things will crop up later.

This is a major mind-shift for me too, just because I won’t have to think as much about things I used to have to think about. Like pricing, genre placement, and distribution. Like classes on business and negotiations.

I’ll keep my hand in the publishing side only as the prep guy. I’ll continue to be the eformatter, cover designer and promo-doc preparer.

The manuscript is pre-eformatted as I write anyway, and I’ve invested a lot of time in learning cover design. Plus I know how to write sales copy and prep the promo doc. No need to reinvent the wheel.

In a way I’m going back to the beginning, when all I had to worry about were learning more about the writing craft and telling stories.

I’m a lucky guy. I have the best job in the world. (grin)

Topic: On Writing “Fast”

Yesterday I talked about writing into the dark. Because most writers who write into the dark (DWS, Stephen King and Lee Child, just to drop a few “big” names) also turn out a lot of work, WITD has become equated in many minds with writing “fast.”

And writing “fast” has become equated with “bad writing.” And that’s just silly.

First of all, writing “fast” doesn’t exist unless you’re a stenographer. It certainly doesn’t exist in fiction.

Productivity and being prolific—whether or not it’s related to writing into the dark—is a simple matter of math.

First, neither WITD nor writing “fast” has anything to do with slopping words onto the page or throwing stories against the wall and hoping some of them will stick.

Writing “fast” has to do with spending time in the chair, period.

Think about it.

I write laboriously slow at a rate of about 17 words per minute.

If you write only 17 lousy words per minute (and seriously, how can you NOT come up with at least 17 words in a minute?) and do that for 60 minutes in a row, that’s 1000 words per hour.

If you do that and spend four hours in the chair per day, you’ll write 4000 words per day.

And if you do that even only 5 days per week (take weekends off), that’s still 20,000 words per week and 80,000 words per month.

If you don’t take weekends off, you’ll write upward of 120,000 words per month.

But maybe you have a day job and kids. Okay. Even if you write only one hour per day and five days per week, that’s still 20,000 words per month and a novel in 3 or 4 months.

Write one hour per day and you’ll be considered prolific. (And you can break that hour into 4 15-minute sessions.)

Admittedly, I don’t rewrite. Which means the stories I put out are in my original voice. They aren’t polished to look like everything else in the slushpile.

Consider, it will take an average professional writer 80 hours to write the 80,000 word novel I mentioned above. (Sure, the writer can also choose to spend a lot more hours revising, rewriting, etc, but that isn’t writing. Writing is putting new words on the page.)

If I spend those 80 hours in the chair in one month, I’m considered a “fast” writer.

If that happens, a bunch of people who probably have never experienced an original thought will claim that what I’ve written is dreck. Of course, they won’t bother to read what I’ve written first. They’ll simply make a blanket assumption.

And the same people will have the same reaction if I write only one hour per day and spread those 80 hours over 80 days. Writing a novel in less than three months? It can’t possibly be any good, right?

But if I spend say 15 minutes in the chair per day, and I do that only 5 days per week and take weekends off— Oh, well THEN it will probably be a decent novel since it took me a year or a little longer to write it.

Or maybe I could write only 5 minutes per day. Then it would take me three years (960 5-minute sessions) to write my novel. I guess that would make it a masterpiece.

Does anyone out there NOT see how utterly ridiculous this is?

And frankly, I feel like a complete lagabout because we’re almost through the 7th month of the year and I’ve written only 7 novels and a novella this year thus far.

Writing “fast” isn’t a matter of being in a hurry. It’s a matter of spending time in the chair.

And writing into the dark is a matter of trusting in your own ability and of trusting your characters to tell the story that they (not you) are actually living.

I understand that most writers will never “get” this. That’s because most of them won’t even try it, at least not honestly.
It’s far easier to succumb to the fear and fall back to the safety net of routine and excuses.

In fact, if even ten out of a thousand DO try it, most of those won’t trust it. Which of course means they didn’t really try it because the whole thing hinges on that trust. Soon they’ll fall back to the safety net too.

So I understand about those writers, but it makes me sad for them because I’ve been where they are. I know first-hand how much fun they could be having.

But when they cross their arms and refuse to try or when they try half-heartedly and fall back to the net, all I can do is watch.

Rolled out at a far more reasonable hour this morning. (grin)

This morning I’ll begin moving storage items over to the bay next door and rearranging my Hovel.

Later, I and my publisher will start on the Licensing Transition videos. Sometime today we’ll go to the store.

As these business-transition things settle out, I look forward to getting back to writing fiction every day. Being patient is not an easy thing for me. (grin)

Plus my youngest son’s coming down from Flagstaff tomorrow to spend the weekend, so we’re looking forward to his visit.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

Want a challenge? Try this: “He’s Writing 365 Children’s Books in 365 Days, While Holding Down a Day Job” at (You might have to sign up for a free account.)

To see the Cielo site, visit

See “Ghostwriting: How Much Money?” at

See “Robert Fulghum” at Check out his Downloads page. And read what he says there about his American publisher. Sigh.

See “RWIM: The Value of Critique Partners – Part 2” at As I cycle, my characters fill in anything I left out. My first reader fullfills the “reader opinion” aspect. What you do is up to you.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1190 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 1190

Writing of ()

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 7399
Total fiction words for the year………… 358737
Total nonfiction words for the month… 22120
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 206320
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 565057

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)…………………………………… 44
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 194
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Thursday, July 18”

  1. I’ve been hesitant to say anything, because I’d hate to jinx the streak (look at me, suddenly superstitious 🙂 ), but you’re right Harvey–it’s all about butt-in-chair time. Because I’ve dedicated myself to writing at least 1 hour every day since June 22nd (missing the mark only a couple of days), I’ve added 30k words to my WIP and I feel like the story is flying along, keeping me fully engaged. Hoping to keep up the momentum.

    • You’ll keep the momentum fine. And I don’t want to jinx You, so I won’t tell you the plateau you’re about to come up on. (grin) But I’m not joking. It’s there and you’re getting close. I recognize it just from your comment.

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