The Daily Journal, Tuesday, May 28

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the day
* What I posted to Facebook yesterday
* I’ll get back
* Topic: What? Most Scenes Don’t Lend Themselves Visually?
* On a side note
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

Quotes of the Day

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” Martha Graham

I’ve never heard a better justification for writing from the creative subconscious and not judging your own work. Just sayin’.

“[Y]our responsibility is to create. Your job is share what you have to offer from where you are right now. … Your concern is to do the work, not to judge it. Your concern is to fall in love with the process, not to grade the outcome.” James Clear

What I posted to Facebook yesterday…

Any writers out there?

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith is offering for only $200 to allow you to “learn-along” with him during the upcoming Las Vegas Licensing Expo.

Your intellectual property (IP) is valuable beyond what you can imagine. Don’t just skip over this opportunity. Read the details at

I’ll get back to the Critical Mind book in a day or two, but first I need to talk about a couple of other things.

Topic: What? Most Scenes Don’t Lend Themselves Visually?

Recently another writer, in talking about covers in a blog post, wrote, “Most scenes don’t lend themselves visually. So when you write your story, include 3-4 scenes that are visual.”

Frankly, I was stymied by that statement. I suppose the writer’s premise was that a cover should convey a scene from the story, but I’m just guessing.

In the first place, the cover and specific scenes don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other. The cover should convey the genre and overall tone of the novel.

WMG Publishing offers an excellent lecture on cover design at The publisher talks about cover-art selection per genre, colors, font selection, etc.

Other statements in the same post told me this writer is mired in the critical mind and in the myths about writing. For that reason, I didn’t bother to comment on the post itself. I didn’t want to appear argumentative. Hey, every writer is different.

But the writer’s contention that “Most scenes don’t lend themselves visually” is sheer misinformation and served as the catalyst for this topic.

The truth is, most scenes ARE visual. I can’t think of even one scene that isn’t, in my work or in anyone else’s (including the works I’ve read by the author of the original post).

If a scene lacks anything, most often it is a lack of the other physical senses.

In my experience, all writers convey visual clues in scenes, but few include the POV character’s sense of smell, hearing, taste and feeling, either physical or emotional.

For much more on this (and on what a scene is), see my posts on writing scenes at

Several other posts on my author blog also touch on the topic of scenes, but those three posts nail the question pretty well. And two of them are included in my book, Writing the Character-Driven Story.

On a side note (you might call this a rant), more and more often recently I find myself wondering why I bother to stand in the path of the tidal wave that is the standard collective take on the craft of writing. It isn’t going to go away, that’s for sure.

I mean, despite actual historical evidence, I can’t even convince writers that what currently passes for conventional wisdom (the myths that you must outline, rewrite, etc.) has actually been around, out of the entire history of the human race, only since the 1960s or 1970s. So around 50 years, give or take.

So why do I bother?

I mean, I could just as easily go about my business, write my own short stories and novels, and let other writers and would-be writers discover the truth (or not) in their own good time.

After all, if the majority of would-be writers want to spend thousands of dollars on conferences and writing seminars and workshops and books (many by people parroting the same old crap) and then never write a word, what does it matter to me?

And if the majority of actual writers — many of whom have been made aware of Heinlein’s Rules and the writing into the dark technique — choose to ignore those and plod along in the conscious, critical mind, writing outlines, doing numerous revisions and rewrites until their work contains no inkling of their original voice, really, what do I care?

The timeless wisdom of Heinlein’s Rules and the boundless freedom (and preservation of your original voice) of writing into the dark are there for the taking, yet so few are even willing try them.

And the repetitive (and horrible) advice drones on in writers’ organizations, critique groups and blog posts.

Just this morning, I saw a writer whom I actually admire and respect tell a younger writer that instead of writing “The cop leaned in [over a suspect]” (intimidating, right?) s/he should write “[The cop] invaded the petite woman’s personal space.” Ugh. Really? Political correctness, anyone?

And in the past week alone I’ve seen writers I respect tell other writers that writing is “hard work”; that they should outline, revise, and rewrite; that they should let others into their work via critiques; that they should take a break between projects to avoid “writer burnout” (whatever that is) etc. etc. ad nauseam.

I have to say, some of those posts literally cause me to feel physically tired.

Now, if you’re wielding a shovel and digging ditches eight hours a day, I can understand you might experience muscle fatigue (muscle burnout).

I can even understand carpal tunnel syndrome or maybe finger fatigue or eye fatigue from staring at a computer screen all day. But “writer’s burnout”? Seriously?

C’mon, folks. You sit alone in a room and make stuff up. Ideas are literally everywhere. And if you’re doing it right, you aren’t even living the story you’re writing. You’re only recording what your characters say and do. And you’re having fun doing it! So how in the world can you possibly “burn out”?

Unless you’re attempting to force the story on the characters with an outline or unless you’re teaching your creative voice you don’t respect it by revising and rewriting with your conscious, critical mind what it creates. I can understand how that would quickly get tiring and lead to burnout. Or to your critical mind telling you you’re burnt out.

But whatever. The point is, the fact that so many other would-be writers and writers buy into that stuff doesn’t have even the slightest effect on my own writing or my own storytelling ability.

So again, what do I care? And why do I bother to be one of only two (as far as I can tell) persistent voices yelling in the wilderness against the insanity?

Well, I know why I bother, of course, or at least why I’ve bothered up to this point: If even one writer or would-be writer out there gleans from my silly posts the enduring work ethic (Heinlein’s Rules) and freedom to be true to his or her own voice (WITD) that I discovered with HR and WITD, then my regulary going hoarse in the attempt to spread the word is worthwhile to me.

After all, if Dean Wesley Smith hadn’t been willing to share his advice — practically all of which goes directly against the overwhelming deluge of myths and misinformation — I wouldn’t be a successful short story writer and novelist today.

Still, as an instructor I have to remain unattached to outcome. I have to share what I know to be true, and then let others take it or leave it as they wish. Otherwise I’ll descend into a fit of screaming meemies and last be seen racing across the desert, pulling at what little hair I have left as if it’s on fire, and babbling incoherently.

As I mentioned before, I have no idea what “writer’s burnout” is supposed to be. But I have a sneaking suspicion I’m beginning to experince “instructor burnout” or maybe “blogger burnout.”

So write however you want. I mean, it really is your choice, and I personally don’t care.

You can plod along for a year or two or five if you want to, attempting to squeeze a story out of your conscious, critical mind. In the meantime, I and others who’ve caught on will have written and published another 12 or 25 or 50 novels.

If you’re of a particular dramatic bent you can even tell yourself and anyone else who will listen what a “terrible burden” you must bear for your “art,” and all because you felt “compelled” to answer some mysterious, ethereal “calling” to be a writer.

Or you can get over yourself, sit down at your computer or note pad, lay your ears back and just have a blast recording the stories that your characters are living.

It really is that simple, and it really is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. And it’s much more rewarding and somehow less tiring than simply going with the flow.

I wish it for you.

Rolled out at 2 this morning and was in the Hovel by 2:30. My critical mind tried to tell me I could take one more day off to get back to normal after the visit this past weekend (grin). But the best way to get back into a routine is, well, to get back into a routine. (Wes says, “If you want t’get back in the saddle, y’gotta put a foot in the stirrup.”)

I suspect I have only one more chapter on the Critical Mind book, and then maybe an addendum or two, one of which I’ve already written. I’ll more than likely finalize the last chapter today and post it tomorrow.

Then I’ll post any addenda on succeeding days and be done with it.

So to get back into my routine, I went to bed early last night, got up, and started my day.

Had a few short breaks while writing the stuff above and researching “Of Interest,” then to the house for a longer break at 8. When I get back, I will turn a blind eye to the naysayers and wander off into my WIP for an enjoyable few hours.

To the novel at a little after 9. I felt like I needed to read through it to bring myself up to date, but realized I had only started my reverse outline, so I brough that up to date too, skimming through the novel. A break at 10:15.

Back to the read-through and reverse outline at 10:30.

I started writing on the novel again at 11:30, and at about 11:45 it took a serious twist. One that will require some cycling back.

And with the cycling back came a lot of new words. After a little more cycling tomorrow, the story should be back in the flow.

Calling it a little early today. I’m pooped. (grin)

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “How We Learn” at

See “Just A Few Hours Left…” at

See “First Page Critique: Go” at BUT be sure to read the comments.

See “Ian Fleming Explains How to Write a Thriller” at Simply put, this should be required reading for every writer, not only writers of thrillers.

See the comments on “Not Many Writers Want To Make Money” at Unbelievable.

See “Martha Graham on the Hidden Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others” at Goes along with my posts on quieting the critical mind.

See “Malware” at

See “16 Major Book Publishers Always Open to Submissions” at

See “Free Fiction Monday: The Japanese Sword” at

Fiction Words: 1192
Nonfiction Words: 2050 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 3242

Writing of In the Cantina at Noon (novel)

Day 10… 1365 words. Total words to date…… 20874
Day 11… 3696 words. Total words to date…… 24570
Day 14… 1050 words. Total words to date…… 25620
Day 15… 1622 words. Total words to date…… 27242
Day 16… 1413 words. Total words to date…… 28655
Day 17… 2098 words. Total words to date…… 30753
Day 18… 1222 words. Total words to date…… 31975
Day 19… 2586 words. Total words to date…… 34561
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

Total fiction words for the month……… 40604
Total fiction words for the year………… 302074
Total nonfiction words for the month… 38470
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 150330
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 452404

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