The Journal: Nonfiction Topics

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Topic: Nonfiction Topics
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“[D]on’t let your opinion get in the way of sales.” Dean Wesley Smith

You are the worst judge of your own work (we all are) when we think a work is “bad” as well as when we think it’s “good.” Hence, the quote above.

Topic: Nonfiction Topics

Now and again, professional fiction writers have complained to me, albeit mildly, that they find it difficult to come up with a new topic for a blog post every week. Or even every month.

Each time I hear that, I’m amazed. Some of these are the same folks who, when asked where they come up with ideas for stories or novels, respond with “How do you NOT come up with ideas? They’re everywhere.”

I agree. New fiction ideas occur to me at least several times each week. But nonfiction ideas occur just as regularly, but every day.

Often, as today, I’ll write a topic or blog post based on a question.

I also read the blog posts of several other authors every morning. More often than not, I’ll find something I agree with that I can give a new slant. Or I’ll find something I disagree with. But instead of arguing with the writer on his or her website, I write my own post.

My topic yesterday on publishing to paper was both. I agreed with what Dean wrote in his post, but I put my own slant on it. And I disagreed with him regarding the importance of publishing to paper, so I included that in the topic as well.

To write fiction, you have only to trust your characters to tell the story they’re living. That’s all. Don’t second guess them, don’t think you know better than they do. Just write what they tell you to write, what they do and say as they live the story.

To write nonfiction, you only need an opinion you’re willing to share. And if you aren’t willing to share it, well, maybe you need to check in with yourself and ask whether it’s something you actually believe.

There are a few caveats to what I write in nonfiction. For example, I will never propagate the stupid myths about writing. That detailed outlines are a good thing, for example. (They aren’t.) Or that revising and rewriting a work will actually improve it. (It won’t.) Or that workshopping your fiction throught a critique group isn’t the same thing as writing by committee. (It is.)

But for every voice like Dean’s or mine or the handful of other writers who preach self-confidence and trust in your characters, there are several million others out there who are all too happy to regurgitate the same old worn-out clichés.

For the record, yes, there are a few long-term professional fiction writers who adhere to the myths. Or say they do because that’s what people want to hear.

And there are hundreds or thousands of professional writers who will never be long-term because they believe they’ve learned all they need to know and are stuck in Stage Two.

And of course, there are millions of would-be writers, all advising each other with the same ridiculous silliness.

And there are endless minions of other would-be writers who will believe them.

Like a guy going down in shark infested waters, there’s little or nothing I can do for them, so I stand on the deck of my boat and watch them sink, albeit a little sadly.

But I threw them a life preserver. Is it really my fault they shoved it away?

Uh, no.

And that’s why I keep coming up with nonfiction topics. Try as I might, I can’I build a good reserve of life preservers. There’s too much water, too many sharks. Still, I have a driving urge to at least try to pull those ill-fated swimmers out of the water before they’re so drowned in the myths that they’re gone forever.

And new swimmers show up every day. So I have to keep writing new topics and revisiting old one so I have something to toss to them from the deck of the boat.

So there you go. That’s how I come up with topics, and that’s why I keep coming up with topics. Can you think of a better reason?

Today I’ll finish the novel. (In easier times, I consider a novel “finished” only when it’s published. But for the duration of my challenge, I’ll call stories and novels finished when I send them to my first readers.)

This morning, because it’s Saturday, I rose early, around 1 a.m., fixed my coffee, came to the Hovel and got busy. I did the normal “wake up” things, checking email and Facebook and websites and all that. I also listened to the last four vids Dean posted to the Shared Worlds class.

I finally turned to the WIP at around 3:30. By 7, I’d written around 3200 words. If that seems slow (it is, around 914 words per hour or 15 words per minute), it included a lot of cycling and updating my reverse outline. (grin)

Then I took a break for a few hours for breakfast and to visit with my bride and let her know I still had a couple of chapters to write to finish the novel today.

But she’s working in the house today. We aren’t going anywhere, so that was fine with her.

I went back to the Hovel at 9:30 or so and wrote everything above this. Then at 1015, I turned to the WIP again for what I suspect will be the final (long) session on this novel.

When I’m through writing, I’ll run a spell check (my second draft) and then send it to my first readers. And for purposes of the challenge, it will be finished. In 19 writing days.

And to go back to the topic for a moment, it won’t have any plot holes or unresolved issues. That’s what is possible when you a confident in your ability as a storyteller and trust your characters to tell the story.

Okay, had some emails come in, so now it’s 10:45 and I’m just now going back to the WIP. (grin)

Finished right at noon with another 2000 words.

Of Interest

Any Romance writers out there, see “Has RWA Lost Its Way?” at It will come as no surprise that I agree with PG.

See “Priorities” at

See the comments on “Fear and Publishing” at

The Numbers

Fiction words (see specific numbers below)
Nonfiction words today…………… 1090 (Journal)

Writing of Jonah Peach (tentative title)
Brought forward…… 4416 words

Day 10… 1490 words. Total words to date…… 25649
Day 11… 1544 words. Total words to date…… 27193
Day 12… 1554 words. Total words to date…… 28747
Day 13… 4102 words. Total words to date…… 32849
Day 14… 3538 words. Total words to date…… 36387
Day 15… 1096 words. Total words to date…… 37483
Note: Cut 6351 words on Day 16…………………………… 31132
Day 16… 1905 words. Total words to date…… 33037
Day 17… 5951 words. Total words to date…… 38988
Day 18… 2967 words. Total words to date…… 41955
Day 19… 5255 words. Total words to date…… 47210 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 50996
Total fiction words for the year………… 448561
Total nonfiction words for the month… 18590
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 321850
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 770411

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 10
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 44
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31