The Journal: Filling in a Few Blanks

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Great comment
* Filling in a Few blanks
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“I have also been far less critical of my painting (probably because I had no expectations of success!) and happier to let a painting emerge and evolve over time. This has given me the freedom to experiment and try new approaches and techniques without obsessing about the end result. … Now I see that if I adopted the kind of approach and attitude I have to my painting, the writing process could be far less fraught with self-doubt and criticism.” Claire Langley-Hawthorne

Great comment on yesterday’s post. (Thanks, Matt.) Matt’s comment and my response pretty much constitute an extra blog post by themselves. I urge you to read it.

Filling in a Few blanks—Over the past couple of days, I’ve talked about the value and thrill and rewards inherent in writing into the dark. I’ve openly affirmed that WITD isn’t for everyone. Certainly everyone is capable of it, but very few are trusting enough of themselves to actually do it.

Writing into the dark requires a lot of letting go.

It requires that you trust your creative subconscious after you’ve spent a lifetime listening to others actively teaching you that your creative subconscious is not worthy of that trust. That you should always double-check and-or have others double-check your work, that you should allow your conscious, critical mind to rewrite what your creative subconscious has wrought.

Initially you were taught those negative thoughts in school by people who most often were not fiction writers themselves. They probably meant well, but the fact is, they had no clue what they were talking about. And even today across the internet and in writers’ groups and conferences and conventions and how-to books, fellow writers echo and reinforce those same negative thoughts.

But intentionally involving the conscious, critical mind in your writing at any time is a mistake.

Invoking the critical mind before you write—and putting together ANY kind of outline, character sketch, etc. requires conscious thought and the involvement of the critical mind—tells your creative subconscious you don’t trust it to come up with a structured story and viable situations and characters.

Involving the critical mind during the creation of the story (consciously reading, “looking for” problems, revising) tells your creative mind you’re checking up on it and sends a clear signal that you don’t trust it.

And involving your and other critical minds (critique group, anyone?) after the fact again tells your creative mind blatantly that you don’t trust it.

To me that’s just silly. To me, it makes sense that if you want to “create” something, you should invoke your “creative” subconscious. And having done so, you should trust it completely, and not abandon or contradict it because of input from your or anyone else’s conscious, critical mind. Be loyal to yourself and defend your work fiercely.

Nothing good in literature ever came from the conscious, critical mind.

Unfortunately, most (like 99.999%) of prolific, long-term professional writers wisely keep their storytelling process to themselves.

Fortunately, now and then a few (DWS, Block, Child, King) individually or collectively, intentionally or inadvertently, leak the secret to becoming a prolific professional storyteller: The secret is to let go of all the negative crap you’ve absorbed and trust yourself. It’s that easy and that difficult.

If you Trust Yourself you will write more and you will enjoy it more. You will also hunger to learn more about the craft.

As you learn more about the craft and then practice what you learn by writing more, your storytelling skills will improve and you will sell more.

Don’t hover over a work. Don’t revise or rewrite or otherwise try to make it “better.” Write it, submit or publish it, and move on to the next work. Always keep moving forward.

As I’ve also affirmed recently, although WITD is not the only way to write fiction, it literally is the only way for ME to write fiction. I count myself as very fortunate. I’ve seen the joyful side of writing. I could never go back to slogging through all the myths.

For me, writing is never drudgery, never a “labor” of love or any other kind of labor. But then, I’m only enabling my characters to convey the story that they, not I, am living.

Consider, in their story, the characters are off on a spaceship to a distant planet or sighting through a rifle scope at enemy lines or laying charges along a strategically significant bridge or riding wild on a good horse in a just cause. They’re doing exciting things, and I get to be the first to hear about those things.

On the other hand, in my own story, I’m sitting here at my desk in the Hovel as my fingers move over a keyboard. In my bland, unexciting story, I’m serving as the stenographer for my imaginary friends. And I know I’m a fortunate, fortunate man. Because if the characters themselves had keyboards and fingers, I wouldn’t be necessary at all.

Talk with you again later.

Of Interest

See “Art Lessons” at Sorry. All I can do is shake my head and say “Duh.”

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 870 words

Writing of WCGN 5: Tentative Title (novel)

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

Total fiction words for August……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 623282
Total nonfiction words for August… 9060
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 164280
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 787562

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 13
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

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.