The Journal: If It’s That Easy…

In today’s Journal

* A quick roundup
* The Coming Year
* Topic: If It’s That Easy…
* How I Came to Writing Into the Dark
* Yesterday and Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Well, first a quick roundup since I was reporting fiction numbers a day late:

Total fiction words for December……… 55128
Total fiction words for 2019………………… 452693
Total nonfiction words for December… 21570
Total nonfiction words for 2019………… 324830
Total words for 2019 (fiction and this blog)…… 777523

Calendar Year 2019 Novels…………………… 10
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 45
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

The Coming Year

For me, 2020 is the final year of the decade that began with 2011. So the next decade doesn’t begin until January 1, 2021. Why? Because our current calendar began with 1 A.D., not 0 A.D. Duh. (grin)

So for me, the decade will run from 2021 through 2030. Which is good, because in that allows me to use 2020 as a transition year, twelve months during which I can produce at my highest level yet, and during which StoneThread Publishing can gear up to being a licensing company.

By contract, STP will license-in (from me) my novels, novellas, nonfiction books and short story collections. For a variety of reasons, my individual short stories will remain under my control.

STP will then license-out (for a fee) those novels, novellas, nonfiction books and short story collections to ebook vendors (and maybe paper book vendors), audio vendors, film and gaming rights, and anything else we can think of: calendars, stationery, toys, board games, t-shirts, coffee mugs, shower curtains, etc.

And we have all of 2020 to begin setting that up. The contracts will come first. All the rest will build over the year and then into the new decade that begins in 2021.

And by May 2021 or 2022, we’ll be ready to attend the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. Maybe by May 2020, but barring a lightning strike, I think that would be pushing it.

Topic: If It’s That Easy…

More questions came in about the last two topics. The most interesting regarded my writing goals for 2020 and the math that accompanied yesterday’s topic. The question was, “If it’s really that easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?”

The answer is twofold:

One, a lot of writers ARE doing what I’m doing, or something similar, though most of them aren’t advertising it. In fact, a lot of writers are doing far more than I’m doing.

But even Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch speak only in vague terms about their production, word-count goals, etc. And other major long-term writers who write into the dark blog only very occasionally. When they’re actually writing, they disappear from the blogosphere altogether. Witness JA Konrath, Lee Child, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and many, many others.

Two, those who aren’t doing something similar to what I’m doing don’t believe it’s possible. Why? Because they’re mired in the myths.

Instead of just writing stories (or even trying to just writing stories), they make excuses:

“I want to turn out ‘quality’ stories.”

This is my personal favorite. It implies, haughtily, that nobody (present company included) can turn out “quality stories” unless they follow the myths: outline, revise, rewrite, workshop, polish, and do multiple drafts, or any combination of any of those. Yet those same writers assume that I’m turning out less-than quality work without having bothered to read any of my books. An assumption, happily, that’s negated by my first readers, not to mention my sales numbers. (grin)

Never mind that they’re losing a LOT of practice time by revising, etc. They’re also making their story “same,” more like everything else out there, with every revision pass and every rewrite.

And finally, they’re making another false assumption: that they know what “quality stories” are. Only the reader can determine that, and the eventual reader’s opinion is much more valuable than the writer’s opinion. After all, he’s paying money to read your book.

“I don’t have time.”

For that one I’ll just refer you back to the math. Of course, you have to do the math for yourself, but the time is there. You just have to care enough to look for it and find it.

“Whatever works for me is best.”

What a silly cliché this is. Seriously.

Yes, you should write and publish in the way that works best for you. I have no dispute with that. None.

But how do you know what way works “best” if you haven’t tried other ways? These are the same folks who, when they were kids, pushed spinach around on their plate and never tasted it, yet proclaimed to anyone who would listen how bad it tasted.

I too was mired in the myths at one time. I outlined, revised, rewrote, participated in critique groups, etc. right on down the list.

But once I had the courage to try writing into the dark, and once I realized that any story or novel I wrote was nothing more important than a few minutes’ or hours’ entertainment, it all boiled down to math. How many hours are there in a day? And how many of those hours can I realistically use to write? Nothing else factors into the ability to “write fast” and turn out quality stories. Nothing.

A prime example of a writer mired in the myths landed in my email in-box yesterday. I won’t mention the writer’s name, but he wrote this:

I’m happy to report that I’m this close to completing Act II of this draft of [title of WIP]. Either today or tomorrow, I’ll finalize the last scene—it’s actually the next-to-last scene, but it’s the last one I’ve written—and call it good. For now.

Then it’s on to building the outline for Act III, the last quarter or so of the book, followed by actually writing it all.

A great way to end the year.

All right then. Obviously this writer is dedicated to the three-act structure. I have nothing against that. But now that he’s internalized the structure, why not just trust that knowledge and write the book?

Instead, he’s anticipating moving very cautiously forward “today or tomorrow” to “finalize” the penultimate scene of Act II and then, ostensibly, the final scene.

And sometime after that “it’s on to building the outline for Act III” — wait for it — “followed by actually writing it all.”

To the best of my knowledge, this will be the writer’s third novel in three or four or five years. How many more quality novels might he have written had he trusted his knowledge of the three-act structure and simply written the books?

The answer is, he’ll never know. And he’ll never know how those books would have been received. And as long as he’s outlining, he’ll never know the sheer joy of discovering the story as it unfolds through his fingertips and appears on the screen.

And I feel bad for him. But I won’t mention any of this to him. Not my place. He’s doing “what works for him,” at least as far as he knows.

So yes, by all means do what works for you. But have the courage to try different things. You might just discover something that works better for you. I know I did.

How I Came to Writing Into the Dark

Just so you know, when I first decided to try setting aside the myths and writing into the dark, I was a skeptic. A strong skeptic. I tried WITD with the thought in mind that it couldn’t possibly work the way Dean Wesley Smith said it would.

But I decided to try it. The plan was, I would disprove it for myself, then go back to the “old” way: outlining, revising, rewriting, etc.

Only it DID work. I was amazed at how easy it was, and I decided it must be a fluke. So I tried it again (to disprove it), then again and again. Surely, I thought, eventually things would go awry and I would have proved, at least for myself, that it didn’t work.

But again, it DID work. It worked through a few dozen short stories, and then it worked in my first-ever novel, which I wrote in 28 days. And it’s been working ever since.

Again, I’m not saying writing into the dark is right for you. I don’t really care how you write. And why should I?

But I urge you to at least try it, and no time’s better than the present. It’s a brand new year. So I suggest you commit to giving writing into the dark a real try. You have nothing to lose but a bunch of old myths that serve only to hold you back from your true potential.

Then if you choose to use it, your only battle in the future will be keeping that pesky critical mind at bay. And the world, as they say, will be your oyster.

And if it doesn’t work for you (though I really can’t imagine that), you’ve gained a few stories and lost nothing.

Here’s to a happy 2020.

Yesterday I wound up writing just over 3000 words in what might be a new novel. We’ll see. (grin) In keeping with my challenge, if it is a new novel, it has to be finished on or before January 30 to count.

Today I’ll strive to get my 3000 words, and the rest of the day I’ll watch college football bowl games. (grin)

Note: For those of you following my challenge, just a reminer that the short story challenge doesn’t start until Sunday, January 5 (first full week of January). The first short story is due on Saturday, January 11.

I’m using the time between now and January 5 to get used to my daily word count goal, because that’s what will ensure that I reach my short-story and novel goals each week/month.

Again today, a little over 3000 words. Now I’m gonna call it a day and spend the rest of it with my wife and football. (grin)

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Why Do Police Have Different Siren Tones?” at

See “My Must-Have Digital Media Tools: 2020 Edition” at

See “A New Year’s Thought…” at

See “Smashwords 2019 Year in Review and 2020 Preview” at

See “2020 Publishing Predictions: House of Indie on Fire” at

Via Sam Turner (if you’re a Visual Thesaurus subscriber, or if you want to subscribe), see “Four Ways to Build Mental Toughness for Writing” at

The Numbers

Fiction words (see specific numbers below)
Nonfiction words today…………… 1740 (Journal)

Writing of Nagiditch (tentative title)

Day 1…… 3044 words. Total words to date…… 3044
Day 2…… 3189 words. Total words to date…… 6233

Total fiction words for the month……… 3189
Total fiction words for the year………… 3189
Total nonfiction words for the month… 1740
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 1740
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 4929

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 45
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31