The Journal, Friday, October 25

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Topic: Humility and Epiphany
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“One of the widest gaps in human experience is the gap between what we say we want to be and our willingness to discipline ourselves to get there.” Harry Emerson Fosdick

Topic: Humility and Epiphany

In an email exchange, another writer wrote something that shocked me to my core.

The statement was nothing earth-shattering. It was one of those casual sentences-in-passing that carries almost no weight at all. It was about process, about something the writer was going to do.

But when I read it, I interpreted it as being about priorities. And I kid you not, a hard frown sprang across my face and the sizzling, electrified word WHAT? filled my mind.

My initial reaction was to write “Why in the world are you doing THAT [instead of this or instead of both]?” From there I might have launched into a tiresome lecture about priorities, dedication, rationalization, critical mind interference, etc.

But just in time, I realized that would have been wrong, and a massive overreaction.

So I didn’t. Instead I realized the writer had just given me a little insight into myself.

I never would have written that casual sentence-in-passing. In fact, the thought expressed in that sentence never would have crossed my mind.

But that one simple sentence served to remind me that not everyone thinks of this writing stuff the same way I do, and that’s perfectly all right. It’s just a difference between me and everyone else. Not better or worse, just different.

When I go into an endeavor, I go whole-hog. Just who I am. I won’t say that everything (and everyone) else in my life “suffers” from my single-mindedness. That would be a vast overstatement (I think).

I don’t even consciously assign lesser priorities to other tasks or events or people in my life.

But I DO both consciously and subconsciously assign Number One priority to the new endeavor. And honestly, it’s both a blessing and a curse.

So it was that soon after I started writing seriously, I set a daily word-count goal of 3,000 words of publishable fiction per day. To achieve that goal took 2 to 4 hours of my day, but again, I made that goal my number one priority. Period.

Now understand, WHAT I wrote during that time didn’t matter at all. All that mattered was THAT I wrote. 3000 words of publishable fiction. Every. Single. Day.

That isn’t to say that writing was an obsession for me. After all, I didn’t write every minute of every day.

But I did attack my daily goal of 3000 words, rain or shine, no matter what else was going on.

Most days I met or exceeded that goal. On days when I didn’t, I still got close. Maybe a short story or novel ended and I’d written only 2847 words that day. Close enough, and the goal reset to 0 the following morning. I didn’t have any words to “make up,” but I did have a new goal of 3,000 words to reach.

And for me it worked. I was so prolific specifically BECAUSE I stuck like glue to my daily goal of 3,000 words per day. But again, that was my priority. No matter what else was going on, the 3000 words came first. THEN came family, other people, and other tasks and situations.

Even the novels and short stories I wrote during that period were of secondary importance. Again, what mattered was THAT I wrote — that I got my 3000 words — not WHAT I wrote. (One true value of a daily word-count goal is that the focus is on writing, not on what is being written.)

So thanks to my friend, I’m reminded again that most other people don’t think the way I do about writing. And that’s okay. Truly, to each his or her own.

Of course, none of this means I’ll be letting up on what I teach. I can only pass along my own experience. Even when I learn something new from Dean or whomever, I don’t pass it along until I’ve tried it and made it my own.

But that email exchange also gave me an epiphany.

Earlier, I wrote that the thought my friend expressed in that sentence never would have crossed my mind. But apparently that isn’t entirely true.

Everyone knows I’ve been slacking off a lot lately.

My slacking-off started at about the time I became involved in the Licensing Transition and now the Shared Worlds class. In effect, I let those things become my priority. That-I-write slipped away into the morass of things that are secondary in importance.

In other words, I’m using those extra tasks (learning) as an excuse not to write. For me personally, that’s just silly. And my indulgence in that excuse comes at a horrible time.

At a time when I’m switching my thinking process from “me writing and publishing” to “my partner/wife and I running a licensing business,” it’s more important now than ever before to put out new work.

So again, I need to make writing (one more time, that I write, not what I write) my number one priority. If I do that, everything else will fall into place.

So a toast — Here’s to a prolific 2020 (and the rest of 2019).

By the way, in case you’re wondering whether I wish this semi-obsession on you — Sure, of course I do.

But only if it’s right for you.

Today, I’ll endeavor to work on my WIP. If it gives me any trouble, I’ll set it aside for awhile and move on to something else. It’s just another novel, another story. In and of itself, it doesn’t matter.

I’ll write fiction today, but I’ll start reporting it again tomorrow.

I’ll also walk a few miles, something else I’m able to do again that is necessary and that I enjoy but that I’ve been putting off.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “The Art of Writing About Organized Crime…” at

See “Never Start With a Blank Page” at

Appropriately enough, see “Beginnings” at

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… 0
Nonfiction words today…………… 1020

Total fiction words for the month……… 3237
Total fiction words for the year………… 383468
Total nonfiction words for the month… 14580
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 277270
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 661856

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 2
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 195
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

4 thoughts on “The Journal, Friday, October 25”

  1. Harvey, really inspiring to see the honesty you treat yourself with. Fact is, the mind is an absolute beast in finding excuses. I think we have to learn to leave it alone and just make use of it when we need it. Easier said than done. But an approach worth to take.
    Glad to see you back on the writing track.

    Big thanks for this journal and all the stuff we can learn from! Keep on the good work!

  2. That was why I didn’t take the licensing class–honestly, I’m not even following the posts on it. I have to put a line between all the information coming at me somewhere and that was the place. I would have taken the class, spent the money, spent the time…and not been able to do anything with it at this point. At this point, I’m not even taking craft classes. Going to Superstars is much easier because I do a week devoted entirely to it and use the information as needed through the year.

    • Not sure “what” was why you didn’t take it, but of course, to each his/her own. I’ve already used much of what I’ve learned in the Licensing Transition course. But then, I don’t have the advantage of youth. And of course, I use everything I learn pretty much every day.

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