The Journal: I almost didn’t post

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* I almost didn’t post
* Yesterday I mentioned
* I’ve always shared
* The Numbers

I almost didn’t post a Journal entry today. Nothing even in “Of Interest” except Dean’s post. I included it only because he finally revealed his progress on his new novel, which he’s writing as part of a new non-fiction project.

I’m getting more and more frustrated as I visit my regular stops on writing blogs.

One this morning was promising. An author wrote “When you’re stuck in your writing, take a step.” Then she went on to advise leaving the novel or story where you’re stuck: “write a public service announcement” or “write ad copy for a fundraiser for a worthwhile cause” etc. etc. etc.

To be clear, I’m not censoring these people who hand out bad or misleading advice. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. There are millions of them, all spewing the same stuff. But I won’t enable their poison by linking to it in this Journal.

I literally don’t understand how someone can be so right in a premise yet completely miss how to follow through on that premise as a fiction writer. I literally don’t understand how anyone can advise leaving a story as a way to advance it.

As I’ve said probably hundreds of times, “When you’re stuck, just write the next sentence.”

I can say that because I actually DO that. Yes, it works “for me.” But it would also work for anyone who tries it. The thing is, writing the next sentence is all in service to the current story or novel. It’s all in service to getting you “unstuck” and putting new words on the page. How in the world can that be a bad thing? And for that matter, how can it possibly not work?

Doing what that other person (above) recommends is a way to put off the problem and avoid writing the story or novel. Yet writing the story or novel is exactly what youu should be doing if you’re, you know, a fiction writer. Hence my frustration as a writing instructor who’s constantly swimming upstream in a river so polluted it can barely flow at all.

Which is why I escape so often back into my own novel. Even when the story is stuck or bogged down, I’d rather be immersed in that fictional world writing the next sentence. Or scrolling up to see what went wrong. Or something. Anything other than not writing fiction.

Yesterday I mentioned “back in the day” and the ability to mail off a story or article and then just forget it. More often than not, an acceptance or rejection letter didn’t come for three months or so.

I get that waiting and forgetting about a submission is and not stressing over it is easier to do when the editor isn’t in your face often, reminding you that he hasn’t accepted your story yet. I get that it isn’t easy to just wait. But do it anyway. Escape back into your next story or novel or whatever and forget your submission.

Specifically, if you’re in the Shared Worlds class and you haven’t heard back from Dean yet, please don’t email him to ask why not. Just wait. If you email him, you’re only taking up time he could be using to read your story and respond.

I’ve always shared openly here, successes and failures, advances and setbacks. In that vein, my own current novel is bogged down again. I’ll come out of it. I always do because I trust the process.

Today, as once before in this novel (every novel writes differently) I’ll cycle back and read to see where I took a wrong turn, then cut everything after that. Then I’ll write the next sentence and the novel will flow again.

This is nothing new. Nor is it anything I ever expect to happen. Just the nature of writing fiction while fending off the conscious, critical mind.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Chapter Twelve: Day Twelve of Writing a Novel in Half a Month” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 690 words

Writing of The Journey Home: Part 7 (novel)

Day 10… 3269 words. Total words to date…… 35589
Day 11… 2547 words. Total words to date…… 38136

Total fiction words for March……… 2547
Total fiction words for the year………… 201555
Total nonfiction words for March… 1550
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 47580
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 249135

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 3
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 57
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 it both regularly and publicly, I will continue to do so.

4 thoughts on “The Journal: I almost didn’t post”

  1. Take a break from looking at writing sites.

    The problem is not them. All these sites have always talked about writing the way they do. It’s how you’re viewing them. Borrowing from something I’ve seen on DWS’s site many times, if it makes you frustrated, you might want to figure out why.

    • Yeah, frustrated probably wasn’t the right word, or was a word I chose to make a point. In the context of this Journal, I visit selected sites that have proven in the past to offer valuable writing advice. I visit them to pass on to other writers advice that I believe makes sense. I’m not looking for articles that necessarily agree with me personally—there pretty much are none—but articles in which the authors at least don’t contradict themselves. Well, that and advice you aren’t likely to find on a billion other sites at the same time. As far as figuring out why I get frustrated (again, in this context) I figured it out a long time ago: I despise people who pass out information that can actually harm other writers. But again, I don’t censor them; I just don’t encourage or endorse the bad advice by linking to it.

  2. When everyone sounds like an authority, it’s difficult for new writers to know what advise to follow. This is why I link to so few myself. This site being one.

    • Yep, especially when they’re hearing the same BS song from everyone. It’s like a massive mutual appreciation society. Thanks for the comment, JR, and for your support. It means a lot to me.

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