The Journal: Insanity

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Vincent Zandri
* John Gilstrap, actor
* Insanity: Writing Advice from a Stage Zero Writer
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“If the sad parts don’t make us cry when we write, and the funny parts don’t make us chuckle, then we’re just phoning-in our performance, and the reading audience will see right through it. To be believed, you need to live the moment on the page.” John Gilstrap

“Writing a novel is rarely fun. Like most writers, I usually rely on love for my characters, daily word count goals, and pure determination to make it through.” Lindsay Syhakhom (Remember this quote of the day)

As I was reading comments on Dean’s “Come Looking For Anger” megapost a few days ago, I discovered another working professional writer: Vincent Zandri. You can find his website at Extremely interesting site. I strongly recommend dropping by for a look-see.

In today’s “Of Interest,” John Gilstrap (see the first quote of the day) almost hits one out of the park. Then, right at the end, he buys it all back when he says (jokingly, I’m sure) that he might return to acting “if I could just find a way to edit my performance live on the stage.”

How very close he came. Maybe the inability to edit a performance live on stage is what makes a live stage performance so very electric. This is obviously my own  personal shortcoming. Apparently it’s impossible for me to understand how anyone can live with such boring, trudging certainty and sameness and safety day after day after day.

How can they not thrill at the excitement of the unknown? What’s to be afraid of? It’s only words on a page.

How can they not enjoy the thrill of hearing a story for the very first time and not knowing what will happen next? How can they not want to simply see, hear, smell, taste, and feel what happens next vs. controling what happens next?

Head shaking. I just don’t understand.

Insanity: Writing Advice from a Stage Zero Writer

Also in “Of Interest” today, I’ve linked to an article by Nathan Branford on how to stop writing a novel. (Coincidentally, Nathan is also the author of How to Write a Novel.) I was astounded by this quote:

“For the last year and a half, I’ve written nearly a dozen drafts of a novel. I wrote (or rewrote) 1,000 words every day, cancelled plans to work on my novel, and dreamed of publication.”

But what was truly astounding was what he wrote a little later in the article:

“About six months into the writing process, I knew my novel wasn’t going to work.”

Frown. Yeah? Then why keep at it for another year?

Then I noticed the article was actually a guest post by a would-be writer named Lindsay Syhakhom, a Stage 1 or Stage 0 writer who hasn’t written any published fiction that I could find but who hands out advice to other would-be writers.

Ahh. Okay. So I’ll cut to the chase. I’ve both finished a bunch of novels and stopped writing a couple of them, so I can say this with clarity and confidence.

Know how to stop writing a novel?

First, take your fingers off the keyboard. Then,

* if you want to abandon it completely, close the file and drag it to the trash.

* if you might return to it someday, close it and put it in your Someday file.

* if it’s a good idea but you want to start over, close the file, open a new one, and start writing again.

But more importantly, know how to keep writing a novel?

1. Trust your creative voice and Just Write the Next Sentence, then the next and the next. I know this sounds overly simple, and it is, but it works. Do this no matter how many times it’s necessary. Your readers will thank you.

I can hear some of you saying “But what if the novel really actually sucks? Will they thank me then?”

2. Yes, they will, because what you believe sucks, they might flat love. Your opinion of your work is still only one opinion, and it isn’t even the one opinion that counts. The only opinion that counts is the reader’s opinion. And it “counts” only with that reader.

So go, read the article. At one point, Lindsay actually writes “Later drafts were worse than early drafts.”

Um, yes. Of course. Duh. I could have saved her a year and a half and told her up front that rewriting would only make her work worse.

But again, read the article. Witness how deeply she descended into the critical voice, even while she’s aware she’s descending into the critical voice. She was in critical voice before she ever started writing. Look again at the second quote of the day.

Frankly, I would be surprised if she’s ever able to write a novel. With her current mindset, it’s too much for her to pull off.

Nobody can write a novel, but anyone can write a sentence, a paragraph, a scene. Do that enough times, and you’ve written a novel.

Talk with you again later.

Of Interest

See “Bestseller Status: It takes a Hell of a Lot of Work …” at

See “You’ve Got To Live The Moment” at How close he came to great advice. If only he’d left out the editing part.

See “Questions of Life and Death” at

See “How to stop writing a novel” at (Thanks to the Passive Guy.)

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 920 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… 3110
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 158330
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 781612

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.

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