The Journal: My Own (Past) Mentor and More

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Topic: My Own (Past) Mentor
* And More
* Of Interest

Quote of the Day

“[T]he whole thrust of academia is one that values education, in my opinion, in inverse ratio to its usefulness—and what you write in inverse relationship to its understandability.Academics are forced to write in language no one can understand so that they get tenure. They have to say ‘discourse’, not ‘talk’. Knowledge that is not accessible is not helpful.” Gloria Steinem

Topic: My Own (Past) Mentor

This brief post is a result of me having read “Overcoming Your Greatest Obstacle” over at the Kill Zone blog this morning (see “Of Interest”). I recommend reading it and the comments that come after the post. With any luck you’ll find the perfect match between what you need as a writer and whatever knowledge someone else is providing.

Everyone who’s read much of this Journal know that I count Dean Wesley Smith as my primary, albeit past, mentor, though he and I never had any kind of official arrangment. I learned from reading his blog and from asking him questions occasionally. (Yes, just like some of you, I hope, learn from this blog and from me.)

I call Dean my “past” mentor because as a writer, I’ve learned all I can from him and have outgrown the need for him. I like to think he’d be pleased to know that. It’s the same outcome I hope for those who learn from me.

I used to recommend searching and reading Dean’s older posts. I’d recommend you visit his site at, then search for Heinlein’s Rules or Writing Into the Dark or Think Like a Publisher (series of posts) or Killing the Sacred Cows (of Publishing, series of posts) or (of Indie Publishing, series of posts) and much, much more.

But you no longer have to wade through the original posts unless you just want to. All of those topics and many others are available inexpensively as ebooks and print books, both separately and in bundles. You can find them at as well as on Amazon and in other venues.

Also, those topics and many others are available as either lectures (usually $50 to $75) or online workshops ($150 to $300). To shorten my own learning curve, I read his blog religiously back when he was posting about writing almost every day (versus promoting his Kickstarters, bundles, etc. as he does most of the time now). In fact, his blog was the inspiration for this Journal.

Over time I also signed up for several of Dean’s lectures and workshops. If you’re considering the outlay of funds, feel free to email me to ask about the workshop(s) you’re considering. If I’ve taken the lecture or workshop, I’m not shy about sharing my opinion, good or bad. Might save you some money. Might spur you in a more useful direction.

By the way, if you want to email Dean directly, his old email address is no longer valid. His new email address is He’s still a great resource for learning to write fiction.

Best of all, Dean’s advice isn’t simply a regurgitation of the inane myths you see batted about on almost every blog about writing and in writing boards and groups. The myths that actually delay your writing or stop you from writing altogether instead of enabling you to write better and more proficiently.

In short, Dean teaches techniques used by most professional fiction writers, especially the prolific ones. And you needn’t trust Dean (or me). You have only to listen and trust yourself and your creative subconscious.

And More

I also strongly recommend Lawrence Block, both his fiction and his nonfiction for writers. Of particular interest are his Books for Writers and to a lesser degree, his Posts for Writers.

Speaking of enabling fiction writers, I also recommend subscribing to this Journal (Thank you all, and please tell your writer friends and acquaintances) as well as downloading my free and fully searchable Journal archives.

I mentioned that Dean teaches techniques used by most professional fiction writers, especially the prolific ones. I teach those same techniques through this Journal and in my nonfiction books. Especially Quiet the Critical Voice (and Write Fiction) and Writing the Character-Driven Story. I hope you’ll check them out.

Okay, I think that’s enough of that. This ends our extended commercial break. (grin)

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “What to Study On Kickstarters” at

See “Reader Friday: Overcoming Your Greatest Obstacle” at Also please see my (and others’) comments on the article for more.

See “The 12 Best Writing Organization Tools of the Year” at Or you could just, you know, write. Grain of salt recommended.

See “Shakespeare, Pronouns, and the New World Order” at Glad to see I’m not the only one who is annoyed by such things.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 790 words

Writing of Blackwell Ops 8 (tentative title, novel)

Day 19… 2117 words. Total words to date…… 41729
Day 20… 2025 words. Total words to date…… 43754
Day 21… 1770 words. Total words to date…… 45524
Day 22… 3296 words. Total words to date…… 48820
Day 23… 3259 words. Total words to date…… 52079
Day 24… 2712 words. Total words to date…… 54791

Total fiction words for August……… 5971
Total fiction words for the year………… 58467
Total nonfiction words for August… 2530
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 108770
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 167237

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. I’ve never said WITD is “the only way” to write, nor will I ever. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among other topics.

4 thoughts on “The Journal: My Own (Past) Mentor and More”

  1. I haven’t had a mentor for writing – I tried once or twice and it was not pretty.

    But I have read a hundred or more books on craft – as I figured I needed to learn something and looked for books which might help. After a while, each new craft book has less and less to offer, and it’s rare that I find (or even need to look for) one any more. Ditto for writing blogs – there was a time when I read everything someone had written on how to do X.

    If you are analytical about what you don’t know how to do, and find the right post or book, all the judgment from someone else is avoided, and the process is informative, not painful. Seems more my style.

    After that point, you just have to ‘Do the Work.’

    • Thanks for the comment, Alicia. I tried that same approach for around 50 years, reading book after book about “how” to write. They all said basically the same things, over and over, and even often said them in the same way. I finally decided I’d rather drop writing fiction altogether than turn it into the misery and drudgery all the “how-to” authors made it out to be.

      Fortunately, that’s about the time I found Dean and turned things around. I’ll comment a great deal more on this topic in tomorrow’s Journal post. Thanks for the catalyst.

      • Ah! Maybe I had better books. I can often tell you exactly where I learned some esoteric bit.

        Mostly someone would write something, and then provide an example, and my brain would go, “I see!”, and it would stick.

        The key for me was that I wasn’t having someone look at MY writing – that didn’t seem to work. My learning bits were pieces that I specifically realized needed ‘something.’ It was more like a puzzle, a “I don’t know how to do this” feeling. Maybe more like taking a cooking class?

        I’ve been writing since 1995 or so, and all that time with the ME/CFS – zero energy, pain, horrible sleep, and brain fog, among other handy symptoms – I’ve developed my own methods of learning. And have written conservatively ten million words. I miss that Autocrit no longer counts how many words you put through it, because I was up to about five million some years ago. Most don’t end up in my (few) final products, but it gets them out of my head so I can see if that’s what I mean. Because I can’t process them in-house, so to speak. AC does all that boring counting stuff for me (Do you really want to use ‘get’ 18 times in that scene, Alicia?) Prolly not.

        If you really want to write, you’ll find a way. I do. I wouldn’t wish my methods on ANYONE – but they work for me. The same as I’m the ONLY person I know who gets around a retirement community (as much as I do) on an Airwheel S8 (bicycle seat on a hoverboard), except maybe for one guy in Florida; most people here won’t even try.

        And thanks for providing interesting prompts for me to think around. Even if you’re horrified by my answers.

        • Why would I be horrified by your answers? To each his/her own. Doesn’t affect my bottom line so I don’t really care. I just like to share such a freeing method with those who are able to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, most of those won’t do so. Too scary.

          One thing I forgot to talk about from your comment yesterday: you mentioned “the judgment from someone else is avoided.” No good mentor (or instructor, for that matter) will be judgemental. In my own practice, I offer up facts (not opinions), then let the writer do as s/he will.

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