The Journal, DVDs, Mentoring, and More

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* The Journal, DVDs, Mentoring and More
* Of Interest

Quote of the Day

“It was one of the dullest speeches I ever heard. The Agee woman told us for three quarters of an hour how she came to write her beastly book, when a simple apology was all that was required.” P.G. Wodehouse, The Girl in Blue

The Journal, DVDs, Mentoring and More

Heather H. sent a fairly lengthy comment. I thought it was of sufficient public interest that I decided to enter my response here as an edition of the Journal.

You can see Heather’s comment in full at I’ve excerpted her comments below to set up my responses.

HH: “I have certainly missed daily gems on your blog or newsflash posts- like the initial DVD sale and- gasp!- the end of mentoring.”

Seminars on DVD—There are still some seminars on DVD left. You can see those at

Mentoring—I ended the mentoring sessions because, after an initial rush, nobody seemed to want them. If there is sufficient interest, I might start them again. In the meantime, Journal readers may email me at any time at with any questions about writing or publishing and I will do my best to give the writer a good response.

HH: “I didn’t understand how the patron process worked…. I did some searching in order to define what patrons did: (Here HH listed a URL that displayed the old patronage reward tiers and is no longer valid.) Are the comments distinguishing various monthly level descriptions still timely?”

Patronage/Donations—If you’re talking about the patronage reward tiers listed at that now-defunct URL, those descriptions are no longer valid, for two reasons:

1. Literally nobody was taking advantage of the rewards, and

2. My writing habits changed. It’s meaningless to offer “every new short story I write” as a reward when I’m writing short fiction hardly at all.

I didn’t have a way to fulfill those rewards automatically—meaning the patrons had to email me to let me know what reward or rewards they wanted—and again, nobody was taking advantage of that.

So I changed the rewards part of the Become a Patron (Donations) page to read, “As a token of my appreciation, please let me know which fiction or nonfiction book you would like in return for your support. Monthly patrons may request a new reward each month.”

HH: “On learning that my writing text is now (deservedly) behind a paywall….”

The Journal vs. the Archives—I can’t be certain what you mean here, so I’ll do my best.

The Journal itself is not behind a paywall. It remains free, and you can even receive it in your inbox each day if you want. If you (any of you) want that, let me know privately at the email address above and I’ll add your email address to the list of subscribers on my substack.

However, yes, the Journal Archives, after I offered them free for years, are now for sale at the token price of only $30 for each 12-month archive (a very low cost of $2.50 per month) or $220 for all eight archives.

That’s $20 less than you’d pay if you bought all eight archives separately, and it’s $80 less than the cost of just one online workshop from WMG Publishing (Dean Wesley Smith).

I’ve said many times over the past several years that I only wish I’d had the ability to purchase such an archive when I was starting this journey. But I didn’t. I had to piece together information through reading blog posts, reading the stories and novels of writers whose work I admire, and taking workshops from Dean Wesley Smith, etc.

Because I legitimately want to help, I routinely underprice the value of my work. That’s why the Journal has always been free, and that’s why the archives were free for so long. Then that perceived value thing kicks in and folks assume if something is free or low-cost, it must not be worth anything. And most often they would be right, but not when they’re dealing with me.

For just one example, the ridiculously low-priced mentorships ($25 per month to ask basically anything you wanted to ask) were no exception, yet very few took advantage of them. And NOBODY took advantage of the lower-priced Extended Q&A that I offered. So if I bring either or both of those back, I will charge more (perceived value).

Likewise, the archives are no exception. They were free for years. Ironically enough, if I ever went through all those posts and gleaned out all the topics about craft, and if I compiled those gleanings into a more concise archive, I probably would charge $240 or more for each year.

Yet that new “cleaned-up” archive would contain less valuable information than the original does, because I will have inadvertently tossed out some ittle bits and pieces of information that resonate with a particular ear. That’s why I haven’t cleaned them up before. In their current rough form, they cost far less and deliver far more useful information. Shrug. Go figure.

Here’s What I Know—Up above I wrote that when I started out, I had to piece together information. That’s true. And at first everything I learned was only that: thin layers of information, one draped over the other over the other, all lying atop my skin like a sheen of perspiration after warming up as I anticipated a good workout.

Little did I know the workout would last eight years (so far) and result in over 70 novels, 8 novellas and over 220 short stories. But I was SERIOUS about the workout. I didn’t want to read about writing and talk about writing and think about writing. I wanted to actually WRITE.

And the only way to do that is to practice. That means putting new words on the page. So I decided to be serious about practicing. I set my sights on putting 3000 words of publishable fiction on the page per day, no excuses.

And through repeated hours and days and pages of practice I absorbed the information that criss-crossed my writer’s skin in layers and it slowly became knowledge. At that point, finally, I was no longer pretending or hiding in someone else’s shadow. I had turned the information into knowledge and made it my own.

All Right, Take NotesI just wrote that I had turned the information I’d gleaned into knowledge and made it my own.

But it was actually much more than that, folks. I actually expanded DWS’ “writing into the dark.”

When I got it from Dean, WITD only meant writing without an outline, plunging ahead “into the dark” (or into the unknown, with a nod to my friend Michaele) without knowing in advance where the story was going.

Easy-peasy. You only have to trust that YOU know more than anyone else does (duh) about the story that’s unfolding in YOUR head with characters that only YOU know intimately. Why is that so hard to understand?

Oh, but the members of your critique group have written more than you have. Okay. So how many stories have they written with the characters that are living in YOUR head? None? I rest my case. Don’t trust them. No urge is stronger than the urge of one writer to change another writer’s work.

But I digress.

As I practiced I realized what I was doing was much MORE than writing into the dark. I was coveying the stories that my characters, not I, were living.

What’s more, I came to realize and understand that you literally CAN’T outline or plan ahead your characters’ story and life anymore than you can outline or plan ahead your own story and life. Because it’s unfolding as you live it. Duh. And your characters’ story and life is unfolding as they live it.

You can’t forsee with any accuracy something that hasn’t happened yet. For one thing, every decision you make—every single step you take—along your path opens up endless futures, only one of which will actually comes into existence with your next step. And the process repeats.

Yes, you can lay out an outline and force your characters (whom you probably also planned and constructed and forced into shape) to bend to your will, but that is not creation, that is construction.

End Game—Okay, so with the Journal I’m passing that knowledge along, as I am with my nonfiction books and the Journal Archives. And with the archives, you get the added bonus of  being able to watch and study my own development from an amateur, brand-new baby novelist into a seasoned, prolific professional.

The Journal is (and will remain) free, and the books and archives don’t cost a ton. So there you go. But as I did with the seminars on DVD, after the initial flurry of buying (which frankly hasn’t started yet) calms, I’ll probably increase the price of the archives. Somebody out there somewhere will recognize the value and be willing to pay for them.

Okay, that’s way more than enough blathering on from me for one day. Take care, and I’ll talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Nothing today.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1530 words

Writing of Wes Crowley: Deputy US Marshal 2 (WCG9SF4)

Day 1…… 3231 words. Total words to date…… 3231
Day 2…… 2990 words. Total words to date…… 6221
Day 3…… 1805 words. Total words to date…… 8026
Day 4…… 2025 words. Total words to date…… 10051

Total fiction words for January……… 46873
Total fiction words for 2023………… 46873
Total nonfiction words for January… 19020
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 179020
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 65893

Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 72
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer because of my zen-like non-process. If you want to learn it too, either hang around or download my Journal Archives at, read them, and try WITD for yourself.

5 thoughts on “The Journal, DVDs, Mentoring, and More”

  1. I have 2 long files of notes in my phone app labeled ‘Dean says’ and ‘Harvey says’. Your file keeps growing longer! Soon I will have to combine my notes into ‘what Harvey says about x topic’. I had wondered about asking you if you’d ever plan to compile archive material into more NF titles. I have all but one of your current NF books. Very valuable! And I just got my DVD set in the mail. Thank you.
    The more I revisit them, in between writing seasons, the more I value and understand your material and find new things that help wear down my overachieving critical brain.
    It is quick and easy for me to post a long comment, it takes longer for me to post a concise to-the-point one…I should have just said,
    “I want to read back issues of the archives and be a patron, what kind of patron level should I select, reader or writer? (I thought there were rules about that which I hadn’t read.)”

    But I’m not sorry for writing long, because I appreciated your post, and It all needs to be laid out there plain.
    I especially loved this-
    “You can’t forsee with any accuracy something that hasn’t happened yet. For one thing, every decision you make—every single step you take—along your path opens up endless futures, only one of which will actually comes into existence with your next step. And the process repeats.

    Yes, you can lay out an outline and force your characters (whom you probably also planned and constructed and forced into shape) to bend to your will, but that is not creation, that is construction.”

    • Hi Heather, for patronage, the only difference in the suggested amounts was the reward levels. But again, nobody was taking advantage of those so I simply deleted them. I will reinstitute an altered table today.

      All the patrons I currently have are well-established. They’ve been donating to the Journal for years. That’s why I offered them the archives free if they hadn’t already downloaded them.

      Of course, I welcome new patrons, but I suggest giving what you are able to give without it affecting your own life. Give what the Journal is worth to you. If you want the archives outright, your best bet is to buy them a month at a time. Even if the price goes up, you will continue getting the current price.

      Much of what I have talked about in the Journal is already in either my nonfiction books or my audio lectures. Thanks for having acquired most of my books, the DVDs, etc. But remember that watching or reading about writing or talking about writing or thinking about writing is not writing. Writing is putting new words on the page.

      I don’t know your schedule, but if you have even an hour a day, I recommend the following:

      Pick a character, give him or her some small problem (doesn’t have to be ‘the’ problem of the story), then drop him or her into a setting and write what happens. Don’t make it up. Trust whatever comes and just write it.

      Do that every day, without fail. That will go a long way toward muffling your critical voice.

  2. Harvey, I can do that!
    That’s not hard.
    And if I don’t pressure myself that all my words must go towards an immediate published end, then I can get a new streak going via the momentum of that excersize.
    And punch at the reluctance that hangs between me and the current story.
    Thank you.

  3. Thank you, Harvey! I took a break from even trying to fight the critical voice and read a bunch of craft books and articles. No new fiction written though so obviously something is wrong.

    • Nothing wrong at all with reading and studying craft books or, for that matter, reading fiction by other authors whom you admire. Just remember to take what feels right to you and don’t worry about the rest. When you go back to writing, that knowledge will be there. That’s when you set aside the critical voice and just write. The story doesn’t matter anyway. What’s important is THAT you write, not what you write.

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