The Daily Journal, Wednesday, June 26

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Topic: I Almost2 (Squared)
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

Quote of the Day

“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” Alexandre Dumas

Topic: I Almost2 (Squared)

1. I almost tossed out the Critical Voice book this morning.

After all, pretty much everything in the book flies in the face of one lie or another (DWS calls them “myths”) that writers have been taught over the years.

But if you’re one of the minority who were looking forward to the book, don’t sweat it. I will publish it.

The book is part of my way of paying forward the greatest gifts I’ve ever received when it comes to writing: Heinlein’s Rules, Writing Into the Dark, and Quieting the Critical Voice.

I figure maybe 100 writers out of a million will buy it and maybe 10 of those who buy it might actually try the techniques I outlined in it instead of dismissing them out of hand.

But if you are one of those who buy and read the book, and if you elect to try the suggestions I included in it, be prepared for ridicule.

And be prepared for the fact that, incredible as it sounds, the ridicule will most often come from other writers (and would-be writers).

12. I also almost published a topic here titled “On the Harm of Generalizations.”

But nope. Those who understand that one-size-fits-all blanket statements are harmful already get it, and those who don’t probably never will.

Today at long last, I finally fully understand why Dean Wesley Smith advised me years ago to never tell anyone I write only one draft, cleanly, the first time through.

Of course, it’s too late for me. I’ve been blabbing about it for years. A few people have benefitted. Most have not. But I’m thankful for that few.

To those few, if I may carry through Dean’s advice, when anyone asks how many drafts you write, I strongly recommend you look them directly in the eyes and say, “Four. I write four drafts.” Then the self-appointed critics out there will nod sagely and move on to the next topic.

What you don’t tell them is that the first draft was the idea popping into your head, the second draft was writing it, the third was the ten minutes it took to run the spellchecker, and the fourth was the half-hour it took to apply fixes per your first reader’s input.

Because according to most writers out there (generalization alert), anything that’s written “fast” or in only one draft can’t possibly be any good, could stand to be improved, etc. So don’t leave them any room to tell you any of that. Tell them you write four drafts.

Many of these self-proclaimed critics are folks who rewrite X number of times.

I get their point. I do. And I agree fully.

1. Yes, my work might be improved if I went over it one more time.

2. Likewise, and following their reasoning, their work, even after X number of rewrites, might be improved if they rewrote it X+1. Or X+2. Or (let’s cut to the chase) X+Y, where Y is a variable that can stretch all the way to infinity.

This is a belief that could easily lead to endless rewrites of one work instead of moving forward and practicing (writing the next novel). As to how they can’t see that, frankly, I am stymied.

On the other hand, rewriting might also actually harm a work, and that is not a risk I’m willing to take.

At the very minimum, when you rewrite you’re teaching your creative subconscious that you don’t trust it and you’re giving more power to the critical voice.

Hey, different strokes. Besides which, I don’t write drafts. I write stories.

But in the future, instead of wasting my time trying to explain the fallacy of sweeping generalizations, I’ll try to say nothing at all. And if I can’t hold my foolish tongue, I’ll try to remember to smile and say, “Y’know, when you’re right, you’re right.” Which of course, says nothing at all.

Then I’ll go back to writing, publishing, and making money.

Rolled out a little late at 3:30, checked the internet, then went straight to the Critical Voice book. Then I checked the internet again (I knew it was a mistake wandering into that void again) and wrote the topic above.

Back to the Critical Voice book, then back here to post my numbers for the day.

Finished the Critical Voice book (cycling and formatting) at around 11:20. I’ll take a break now, then come back to write the promo doc, find cover art and create the cover, then publish the thing and get it off my desk.

I added 1210 words to it today.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Lifetime Workshop Subscription” at

See Alison Holt’s “Shelves of Buttons and Ribbons” at

See “Ads for Authors Who Hate Math” (video) at When you get there, click the blue Watch Replay button to the right. You might have to enter your email, etc.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 2050 (840, Journal; 1210, CM book)
Total words for the day: 2050

Writing of ()

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 45233
Total fiction words for the year………… 351338
Total nonfiction words for the month… 25070
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 180630
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 531968

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

12 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Wednesday, June 26”

  1. Yes, I’ve almost written the (nearly) same post about the danger of generalizations. Apparently Dumas’s feelings on the subject have been around for a while, in many cultures. Oliver Wendell Holmes is quoted as saying “No generalization is worth a damn, including this one.” It might date back to Chaucer or way beyond. Not my specialty, so I’m not sure.

    It’s also a fallacy in formal logic: You cannot assume (generalize) a universal from a particular. Warning to those who watch the news.

    Thanks for permission to answer: “This is my fourth draft.” That’s too, too good! (grin)

    Earlier I mentioned a beginning writer I know who has taken eleven years to work on one novel and is on her fifth or sixth “draft.” Not truly a beginner because of years working in journalism, but every time s/he receives input from a critique group or an “agent” of some kind or a friend with marginal experience at best, the draft starts all over again. And you have a point. It’s so easy to lose the “life” in a piece of writing when it turns into a committee project, with input from so many quarters.

    As for teaching others the benefits of working as most of us do, their mental culture is armed against it. It’s a shame.

    • Possibly the most difficult task is showing someone an easier and more enjoyable way to do something. The more I encounter the attitude, the more I seriously consider withdrawing back into my Hovel to Just Write.

  2. I am grateful you have been telling everyone about just writing one clean draft! I recently completely a novel in record time (for me) thanks to your wonderful advice about Writing into the Dark and the creative subconscience. I’m looking forward to buying your Critical Voice book, and I, too, am happy to have to have the ability now to say “I write four drafts,” even though I only intend to write one from now on. 🙂

  3. Writers are very wedded to revision. The number of drafts is like a badge. The more you have, the more prestigious the effort you put in. And it’s also a form of procrastination. You can say to everyone, “I’m making progress” and never actually finish the book.

  4. Glad you’re going to publish the book, Harvey. Even if it hits a chord with only a single person, imagine the added richness that person will possibly bring to the world by publishing his/her stories that would have otherwise withered away.

  5. LOL! I was waiting to see if you would actually publish your Critical Voice book. Honestly, your hesitation put me in panic mode and, dare I admit, I considered copying your book off your website, just in case? LOL! Glad you went through with it.

    I’m starting a new book today. I’ll stick with those 4 drafts, thank you very much! It’s been too much fun not to!

    I can’t wait to see what you’ve added to Critical Voice. I’m glad I didn’t give in and resort to thievery! (Haha! I’m kidding. I really wouldn’t have. But I might have bugged you about the book!)

    • Just so you know, no worries at all. You can always feel free to copy anything from the website for your personal use. That’s one reason I left the Critical Voice posts up and even created a tab so they’d be easier to find. And I didn’t really add a lot to the CV book. Just clarified a bit and beefed up parts of it (all while cycling… on even a nonfiction book). 🙂

    • You’re welcome. No problem at all. I find those who copy the info usually buy the resulting book anyway. The good side is, the information goes deeper after they’ve seen it on the blog post, then read it for themselves, then read the final version in the book. My way of giving back a little.

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