The Journal: “Can’t” vs. Critical Mind Excuses

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Topic: Can’t vs. Critical Mind Excuses (in which Harvey gets mouthy)
* Welcome
* Yesterday
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“Can’t never did anything.” Shirley Stanbrough (my mom)

Topic: “Can’t” vs. Critical Mind Excuses

In “Of Interest” today is an article titled “10 Ways to Feel Like a Real Writer When You Can’t Write Thanks to Coronavirus.”

Normally I wouldn’t even link to this silly article, but some of the 10 activities on their list are still things writers need to do, so I let it through.

As to the premise of the article itself, see the Quote of the Day above.

If you “can’t write thanks to coronavirus” (or whatever else you’re saying thanks to) you’re making an excuse. Your conscious, critical mind is giving you a reason not to write, and you’re taking it. And chances are, deep down inside, you know it. That little voice is your creative subconscious struggling to get out.

If you’re sitting at your writing computer with your fingers on the keyboard and you can literally hear the coronavirus brownshirts banging on the doors of apartments along your same hallway as they draw closer and closer to your apartment door, then yes, maybe you have a problem. (But the problem isn’t an inability to write.)

But if you’re stuck at home, given more time to write than you’ve ever had before, and you aren’t writing, that’s “thanks to” your own critical voice, not the coronavirus.

Here are some tips:

1. Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
2. Turn off the coronavirus-soaked TV news.
3. Write.

Because if you “can’t write thanks to” whatever the problem is today, a new problem will take its place tomorrow. Just sayin’.

Welcome to all recent new subscribers. I hope you find the Journal worthwhile. Frankly, I wish there had been a site like this one back when I first started writing.

I practice a writing technique called “writing into the dark” (WITD) right here in public for anyone to see. And I’m an adherent of Heinlein’s Rules, a free copy of which you can download in PDF RIGHT HERE. My monthly and annual number below are evidence that WITD and following Heinlein’s Rules works, at least for me.

In this Journal, which I post almost every day, I share my daily life as a prolific professional fiction writer, warts and all. Occasionally I also give away freebies.

Finally, I usually include a topic of interest to fiction writers in the Journal, and I’ll almost always point you to other articles below in the “Of Interest” section.

I write fiction pretty much across the genres. You can find my author website at and my publisher website at Everything at either site was written in the past six years.

I also teach others the freedom of the writing into the dark technique as well as many writing other aspects of writing. Soon, I plan to release a new round of mentoring topics for everyone to browse.

Perhaps most importantly, I teach other writers and would-be writers to go against conventional “wisdom.” Be sure something makes sense before you dive in and embrace it. Question Everything. So again, welcome.

Yesterday was a pretty good day on my WIP. The word count is on the way back up, at least right now. See Day 6.

Today I’ll write.

I also plan to take a walk sometime this morning. At least 2 miles. I’ll take my stupid seat-stick cane with me so I can sit and rest my back for a few seconds at a time along the way.

Old age sucks. In actuality, I’m only 26. Problem is, I have almost 42 years’ experience at being 26. (grin)

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Plotting for Unruly Writers” at

See “How to End a Story: Top Tips to Nail the Perfect Ending” at

See “Card Sharp Silver” at I’ve been stuck in a novel before and allowed other things to intervene as an excuse to keep me from writing. In fact, it happened a little with For the Good of the Galaxy, my previous novel. In that case it was because I allowed the novel to become too “important.” Because Card Sharp Silver is the genesis novel for a shared world, I suspect that might be the case here. If it is, Dean will eventually tell us.

See “10 Ways to Feel Like a Real Writer When You Can’t Write Thanks to Coronavirus” at If you want to see someone steeped in the myths and perpetuating them, read this article.

I take exception to numbers 5, 8, and 10. If the author could accomplish number 5 on her list, she would be writing. Despite conventional wisdom, why would ANYONE EVER write a “crappy” first draft? And the only way to “feel like a real writer” (or at least to “be” a “real” writer is to write.

The Numbers

Fiction words yesterday…………………… 3954
Nonfiction words today…………… 820 (Journal)

Writing of The Good of the Galaxy 2 (novel)

Day 1…… 6138 words. Total words to date…… 6138
Day 2…… 4514 words. Total words to date…… 10652
Day 3…… 3633 words. Total words to date…… 14285
Day 4…… 3181 words. Total words to date…… 17466
Day 5…… 3224 words. Total words to date…… 20690
Day 6…… 3954 words. Total words to date…… 24644

Total fiction words for the month……… 61414
Total fiction words for the year………… 269396
Total nonfiction words for the month… 20150
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 101300
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 370696

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 4
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 12
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 49
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 208
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

3 thoughts on “The Journal: “Can’t” vs. Critical Mind Excuses”

  1. Another quote (from the South, I believe) on “can’t”:

    “Can’t died in the house of trying.”

    I wrote a song about it and here are the lyrics:

    Can’t Died In The House Of Trying
    (©2010 Beckley/Hurst)

    Way too many years ago when I was just a tyke
    I thought the world had ended when the chain came off my bike
    I tried and tried, then cried out, “Mama, I can’t make it stay”
    And as the tears streamed down my face, I heard my mama say

    Can’t died in the house of trying
    No excuses and no more cryin’
    That’s the truth, honey, I ain’t lying
    Can’t died in the house of trying

    The years rolled by and there I was, under my first car
    A broke-down fixer-upper that I couldn’t get to start
    With knuckles caked in grease and blood and bruises on my head
    I threw that wrench across the floor and that’s when daddy said

    Can’t died in the house of trying
    No excuses and no more cryin’
    That’s the truth, buddy, I ain’t lying
    Can’t died in the house of trying

    Now we’re lying back to back, not sure how long we’ll last
    Two selfish, grown-up kids whose dream of love is fading fast
    We can’t agree on anything except how much it hurts
    I reach across the bed for you and fumble for these words

    Can’t died in the house of trying
    No excuses and no more cryin’
    That’s the truth, baby, I ain’t lying
    Can’t died in the house of trying

    Can’t died in the house of trying

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