The Daily Journal, Wednesday, April 3

In today’s Journal

▪ Dean’s “Great Challenge”
▪ My tutoring is still open
▪ Topic: Priorities
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest (a lot of good links)
▪ The numbers

Dean’s “Great Challenge” is still open for sign-ups. Frankly, I’m surprised.

On the surface, the cost appears a little steep, but it’s basically free tutoring from Dean Wesley Smith. You can use your $600 for credit toward anything you want, and if you make at least 52 short stories in a row (one per week for a year) you get a lifetime subscription of your choice.

If I was still writing short stories, I’d consider hocking a child to take him up on this offer.

Of course, I’m kidding. Maybe. And you’ll notice I didn’t say “my” child. (evil grin)

I added a second writer for tutoring this morning (yay!). I always get a little giddy when I encounter a writer who’s so fired up to learn the craft of writing. (grin)

I have one spot left, maybe two depending on what you need. If anyone’s interested, email me at

Topic: Priorities

If you’re going to be a professional anything, you have to make that anything a priority.

If you’re still in the workforce, that priority is set for you if you want to continue to draw a paycheck.

If you’re a cop, you have to put on the uniform once a day and go clean up human dregs. If you’re a mechanic or a construction guy, you have to show up at a particular time and fix things or build things. Nature of the beast. If you want to draw your pay, you have to do the work.

Same with the arts. You can call yourself anything you want, but you can’t actually “be” a fine artist if you don’t draw or paint pictures. You can’t “be” a musician if you don’t actively play an instrument. I know. Duh, right?

It’s also the same with writing. Words don’t just appear on the page. If you’re an actual writer, you have to put them there.

The best way I’ve seen to do that is to set a goal, then work toward it. And by “work toward it,” I mean bring your fanny and the seat of your chair (recliner, couch, booth at Starbucks, whatever) into close contact on a regular basis. That should be the only “work” involved.

As most of you know, I have a dedicated writing space (the Hovel) and a dedicated writing laptop (my ‘puter, Hal). I show up every morning about twenty minutes after I wake up, and I put words on the page.

I advocate having a dedicated writing ‘puter because doing so will key your subconscious. It will tell the subconscious that when you sit down at that ‘puter and put your fingers on the keys, it’s time to play with your characters and have fun. It’s time to find out what they’ll get into next and how they handle it.

To me, there’s nothing better in the world than that. Nothing.

(And obtaining a dedicated writing ‘puter isn’t that difficult. I recently bought an excellent second writing ‘puter with a solid state hard drive (SSD) for just over a hundred bucks on eBay.)

In my life, other things sometimes take priority (visits from family or friends on the good side, chores or emergencies or other “bad” things on the bad side). But really, writing is my number one priority.

How do I know? Because even when I’m doing those other things (good or bad) writing is in the back of my mind. Not WHAT I’m writing — not the WIP or any particular story — but the act of writing itself.

Of course, you don’t have to give the act of writing — the act of creation — the same priority I do. In fact, I don’t recommend it.

For me, writing is all-consuming. It’s what keeps me coming here every morning to chat with you, and it’s what causes me to return to my WIP even when I feel as if the words have left me and I might never write another word of fiction.

But if you have other interests — that is, if there are other people or situations that make you completely forget your writing for awhile — that’s fine. Again, I even recommend it. If I could bring myself to that mental place, I’d go camping or fishing or practice my photography a lot more often.

But no matter where Writing sits on your list of priorities,
it has to be included somewhere.

And if writing is on your list of priorities at all, it has to be on your list regularly.

It has to be on your list at a certain time and place over and over again. Even the frequency with which it appears on your list isn’t as important as the fact that it appears regularly.

If you can make time to write (read “escape life”) only on Sunday from 1-2 p.m., so be it. But make sure your butt is in the chair during that time, your fingers poised over the keyboard.

If you can write only five days per week from 5-6 a.m. (or 5-6 p.m.) because you reserve your weekends for family time, that’s fine too. Wonderful, in fact. Just make sure you’re there during that hour, and that you’re writing.

If you’re a “weekend novelist” (there are books on the topic), that works too. Whatever you want to do, however you want to do it, is fine.

But nothing will work without the regular bonding of the seat of your body with the seat of your chair.

Without that regular, scheduled bonding, instead of watching your word count or title count or book sales (or however you mark success as a writer) grow, you’ll look back and mark the passing of time with a wistful “What if…?”

And that is a particular kind of hell nobody needs.

Another late start. Rolled out at 4 again. I was exhausted last night for some reason and slept for 9 hours. Ugh. To me, every period of sleep is just time that is subtracted from life that I’ll never get back.

I used to love road trips. Now, not so much. Now I want to be there, not drive there. Just as each evening, I’d rather skip the sleep part and just wake up refreshed and ready to get back to the writing.

Anyway, I did all the usual morning stuff and then wrote the topic above. A break at 7, then finally to the novel when I get back.

Well, the best-laid plans. Had some emails to deal with when I got back, which is okay. In a few minutes, I’ll go up to the house to see my wife off to work, then come back and get to the WIP.

I still feel like this might be the last day of writing for this WIP, but that all depends on whether my characters toss me a new weird quirk (easy to do in the novels of this series). So we’ll see.

To the novel at 9. The early going in the writing day is slow as I cycle first, then ease my way back into the story. It’s as if my fingers are a little rusty.

Took a phone call from my second tutoring client and chatted for awhile, and did some other stuff. But I did get a little writing done today.

I actually laughed when I saw how little I’ve written today. (grin) On the other hand, I think I’ve just written the best fight scene I’ve ever written.

It’s the penultimate fight scene in Blackwell Ops 5. When it was over, I literally pushed my chair back from my desk and said, “Dayum!” (grin)

Then I glanced at the clock on my computer and saw that I have to get around and make supper pretty soon. Besides, I need time to cool down from that scene. (grin)

THIS, folks. THIS is why we write.

I’ll wrap up this novel tomorrow.

Talk with you again then.

Of Interest

I love quotations. See “150+ Writing Quotes to Help You During Every Stage of Writing” at

See “Amazon’s Kindle Create for Ebooks” at

See “In Which We Talk Swag” at

See “April Workshops Now All Live” at Great opportunities (more than just the April workshops).

See “James Lee Burke” at

See “Q&A with Rammel Chan” at

If you’re into personality types and all that, see the comments on “How To Build Conflict Using Myers-Briggs Personality Types” at

Fiction Words: 1627
Nonfiction Words: 1430 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 3057

Writing of Blackwell Ops 5: Georgette Tilden (novel)

Day 10… 4416 words. Total words to date…… 24564
Day 11… 2948 words. Total words to date…… 27512
Day 12… 2721 words. Total words to date…… 30233
Day 13… 2510 words. Total words to date…… 32743
Day 14… 1620 words. Total words to date…… 34363
Day 15… 2638 words. Total words to date…… 37001
Day 16… 1968 words. Total words to date…… 38969
Day 17… 1627 words. Total words to date…… 40596

Total fiction words for the month……… 6233
Total fiction words for the year………… 224034
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2710
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 79780
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 303814

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 4
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 41
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 193
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31