The Journal: An Interesting Conversation

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Some Good Comments
* Another Comment, Another Place
* Okay, No More WITD for Awhile
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

“You just can’t do anything about the past. But if you turn around and face forward, it is amazing what you can accomplish in the future.” Dean Wesley Smith

“Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Any therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne (Not about writing but I just really like this quote.)

Some Good Comments

There are some good, informative comments on “Catching Up… To Do or Not To Do?” at

In the greater scheme, I recommend you swing by Dean’s site once a week or so and just troll the home page (posts are excerpted there). If any comments are mentioned just below the excerpted post title, click that link and browse them. You can often learn a lot just by reading the comments.

Another Comment, Another Place

I had a pretty good back and forth with another commenter on a post over on The Passive Voice yesterday. We wandered far off topic and talked about — well, around — WITD vs. plotting, planning, and outlining, etc. (The original post was about nuclear bombs and stuff like that there.)

As I said, it was a good back and forth, but I had to chuckle at the irony of his final comment. In slightly different words, he wrote that life is too short and complicated to spend any part of it controlling others.

Which was (is) exactly my point, so I couldn’t agree more. (grin)

That’s exactly why I follow Heinlein’s Rules and it’s exactly why I write into the dark.

I don’t exert control over my characters (it isn’t my place), and I don’t allow those who push the myths to exert control over me by telling me how I “should” write (it isn’t their place). (grin)

And as an added bonus, I don’t have to put on airs and sip wine and nibble brie at launch parties, one forearm draped across my forehead as I attempt an intellectual discussion of fiction and why writing it is such terrible drudgery. (grin)

Anyway, I didn’t egg the guy on, but I did invite him to email me privately if he wanted to continue the discussion.

Notice, I never tell anyone else how they “should” write. I explain my process and tell everyone how wonderfully freeing it is, but whether anyone else ever tries it doesn’t affect my royalty rates in the slightest, so what do I care?

Besides, I don’t have to argue for WITD. I have a good system: I lay out the facts, and then the other person does whatever s/he wants. (grin) Here are the facts about WITD:

1. WITD is the most freeing, enjoyable way to write fiction. Those who disagree either have not tried it or tried it and succumbed to their fears, so how can they know?

2. Like riding a good roller-coaster, WITD is both frightening and exhilirating. That’s a big part of the appeal. You never know where you’re going, but you know you’ll arrive safely. Plus you know the story will be better and more authentic because you didn’t “make-up” anything.

3. A great weight is lifted off your shoulders when you let other people (even your characters) live their own lives instead of controlling everything they say and do. Thus, there’s no pressure with WITD. Instead, it’s fun.

4. If you try WITD and decide it isn’t for you, you can always easily revert back to what you’ve always done. All the safety nets are still right there in place. And nobody will care, though members of your writing group probably will say they told you so. (grin)

5. Part of what annoys the mythters — Wait! Ha! MYTHTERS! I just made that up. You know, “mythter” like “mister”? (grin) And as the original coiner of the word, I hereby proclaim “mythter” a non-genger noun because These Days Everyone Is Exactly The Same.

Anyway, part of what annoys them is that we who WITD know why they won’t try it. They can’t overcome the unreasoning fear. And that’s fine, really. Heck, we only know because we’ve been there. We were all taught the myths, the “right” way to write. Some of us were fortunate enough to ignore The Not-Fiction-Writer People Who Tried to Teach Us How to Write Fiction, and others of us were able to break away later. Either way, we’ve never looked back. (grin)

6. If you give WITD an honest try, you’ll learn for yourself that what I wrote in this segment of the post is true. (If as you try it you feel a knot in your gut and sweat beads literally breaking out on your skin, you’ll know you’re on the right track. And WOW do you need WITD!)

7. You literally have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.

ANNN-NEEE-WAY, if you DO decide to try WITD, I suggest you DON’T tell your writing group or writer friends. If you do, you’ll hear a screeching like you haven’t heard since you were aiming that fork for that electrical outlet when you were three. Some of them will even get angry with you.

Okay, No More WITD for Awhile

You know. Probably. If someone leaves a comment or emails me about it I might want to share my response, but otherwise, no.

For you newer folks, I don’t usually go on about WITD for so many posts in a row. And seriously, try it or don’t try it, I don’t care. (If you do try it and you want some guidance, email me.) Anyway, I’ll be coming up with something different to talk about soon.

Oh, and if anyone out there has any questions aboutANYTHING in fiction or storytelling or any of my recent posts, please feel free to ask. You may leave a comment on the site or you may email me at

If your topic is broad enough, I might turn it into a blog post. But either way, I’ll respond to you personally, usually within a day.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Macro-Level Jump Cut Scene” at

See “A Pithy Comment” at

See “Sci-Fi for Kids Is a Missed Publishing Opportunity” at You can probably insert some other genres in place of “Sci-Fi” too.

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

6 thoughts on “The Journal: An Interesting Conversation”

  1. Its funny you mention how your writer friends will react. One friend of mine believes you need beta readers, to do rewrites (as many as it takes, He once told me he did eight rewrites on one of his novels), and simply refuses to believe me when I tell him none of it is necessary, to just trust himself etc.
    He has yet to scream but has tried to persuade me to rethink my process.
    I told him he has his way of writing, I have mine and we agreed to disagree.

    • Yup, that’s all you can do. The bigger reactions usually happen only if you’re talking to a group. Some look at each other or away as if shocked and disgusted, some shake their heads for the poor, deluded soul, and some get outright angry. It’s an interesting dynamic.

      I’ve even had some look at me sidelong, a coy smile on their face, as if they caught me trying to put one over on them. Better to follow the advice DWS gave me when I told him I was planning to tell others about WITD: “Don’t tell anyone how you write. You’ll miss a lot of grief if you just smile, nod and walk away.”

      To this day, Dean tells readers he writes three drafts of everything. He doesn’t explain that the “second draft” is the few minutes he spends with the automatic spell check and the third is the half-hour or so he spends making any corrections that he agrees with from his first reader. (grin)

  2. “For you newer folks, I don’t usually go on about WITD for so many posts in a row. ”

    Shoot Harvey, you going on about WITD is at least 33% of the reason I check in here every day.

    Maybe even a higher percentage, I’ll have to check the numbers.

    FWIW, relevant to our recent talk about marketing, circling around One Big Idea from many angles is reliable and well-tested method for building an audience of loyal readers…

    Just saying 😉

  3. Hi Harvey,
    I like your WITD posts and as a beginner writer, some of the insights you are sharing on that is very helpful to me and it keeps me going.

    Keep it up.

    • Thanks, Desikan. I appreciate that. Most important is to keep learning and practicing (writing). And keep moving forward. No hovering, no backing up.

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