The Journal: Quit but Keep Teaching?

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: Quit but Keep Teaching?
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“You have heard the old chestnut that writers write, right? You wouldn’t say, ‘I’m a mountain climber’ without ever actually climbing a mountain, right?” Chuck Wendig

“I am amazed, astounded, astonished at how often I see writers bitching about writing. I don’t mean bitching like, ‘Oh, shucks, I had a bad day,’ or, ‘Man, this story’s a lot harder to write than I anticipated.’ But… an endless stream of complaining about the very act of putting words on paper, as if it strains them, as if it’s a ceaseless misery, as if it’s a colon full of fire ants. If you hate to write, what the hell are you doing?” Chuck Wendig

Topic: Quit but Keep Teaching?

Over on the Kill Zone blog (and in real life), two sisters write together as the author PJ Parrish. I can never tell which one is posting to the Kill Zone at which time, though others seem able to somehow discern which sister is speaking. Or maybe only one writes for TKZ. Shrug. I dunno.

Anyway, whichever one posted this morning has decided to quit writing. Or that’s how it seems in her post, though she leaves the door cracked a bit. You can read about her decision and her reasons in “Is It Okay To Quit?” at

With my own current situation, I found the post interesting. And PJ pointed to another post about quitting writing over at Chuck Wendig’s place. I recommend it too, unless foul language really bothers you. If foul langauge bothers you or if you can’t read around it, you might want to avoid Chuck’s place. Still, it’s a pretty good post. Today’s quotes of the day come from that post. In both quotes, Chuck echoes my own sentiments.

Toward the end of Ms. Parrish’s post, she mentions that she will continue as a blogger on TKZ. I didn’t leave a comment, but that seems a little off to me. Still, it’s a decision to be made by her and whomever moderates or runs TKZ, and that’s fine. But it started me thinking about my own situation.

I haven’t written more than a few words of fiction in three months. That’s a very long time for a guy who averaged around 2800 words of fiction every day for over 5 years.

And at present, just so you know, I’m not visiting either extreme. I’m neither consciously NOT writing nor sitting at the computer every day, beating myself up and struggling to write. (Note: Writing should NEVER be a struggle. Never. If it isn’t fun, just don’t do it.)

Neither have I replaced the time I used to write with “fun” things, like fishing. I’d love to go fishing, but I don’t have a boat or the money for a boat, and the nearest bass lake is well over an hour away. I’ve replaced the time I used to write with, well, existing.

On the other hand, I DO have a computer and writing is fun for me too, when I’m doing it. But at the moment I’m just obeying the quiet little voice in my head that says right now is not the time. Now and then I sit down and try an opening. Thus far none has grabbed my interest.

But the point is, if I come to a place where I know I won’t write anymore fiction, I’ll also stop writing this blog. I won’t pull a JA Konrath and just drop off the face of the earth. I’ll write a final post to let you all know what’s going on and that will be that.

For now, I’m still looking forward to coming through whatever this is, whacking a few of the heads off my own personal hydra, and maybe even learning something about marketing. Yeah, that’s something else I’d hire out if I could afford it. Anyway…

Talk with you again when I can.

Of Interest

See “Plans to Stitch a Computer into Your Brain” at

See “Smashwords Author Day, Spring 2020 Now Online” at

See “Writing Hacks: Keyboard Shortcuts” at

See “Six Signs It’s High Time To Give Up Writing” at

The Numbers

Fiction words yesterday…………………… XXXX
Nonfiction words today…………… 710 (Journal)

Writing of (novel)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… XXXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 309655
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8920
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 131160
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 440815

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 5
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 12
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 50
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 208
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

8 thoughts on “The Journal: Quit but Keep Teaching?”


    Cognitive enhancement: Nicotine has been well-documented for its ability to enhance cognitive function and overall performance. Research published in 2001 highlighted the fact that transdermal nicotine administration in the form of “patches” treated a certain cognitive impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, as well as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies conducted on animal models have shown that nicotine significantly boosts working memory with chronic exposure.

    A meta-analysis of 41 clinical studies concluded that nicotine administration or smoking improves alerting and orienting attention and episodic and working memory and slightly improves fine motor performance

    Episodic memory
    Long-term memory
    Processing speed
    Social cognition
    Working memory

    Perhaps you learned to perform on an performance-enhancing drug? People take nicotine as a nootropic quite often these days.

    • Thanks for the comment, Steve, and the link. Nicotine also helps people like me cope. I was self-medicating, no doubt. But I stopped because I was having a negative response, one caused by nicotine (not by the method of delivery, smoking cigars). So among all the other factors I have to weigh is a trade-off between a possibly longer life vs. quality of life. Shrug. If I decide to go back to nicotine, I’ll also go back to my preferred method of delivery. As far as my performance as a writer, I’ve averaged around 2800 words per day of publishable fiction for over 5 years. The first couple of years I wasn’t smoking anything. I’d left cigarettes behind and hadn’t yet picked up cigars. So there’s something to be said for what we’re used to, but I can’t blame my performance solely on nicotine.

  2. This is arm-chair psychology and just a thought, but when you mentioned “obeying the quiet little voice in my head that says right now is not the time” it reminds me of what my inner voice says to me when I’m depressed and find no joy in the things that normally bring joy to me. Maybe a part of what depression (or whatever it is) is all about is suppressing our creative voice, and that voice (for me anyway) is my fun and optimism and sense of wonder and hope.

    • Thanks for the input, Tony. Yep, depression is definitely part of this deal and the major reason I was self-medicating. I’m not complaining, understand. Just trying to weigh things and figure some things out.

  3. Thinking of you, Harvey. I believe, as writers, our creativity and learned ability to feel beyond what normal people feel is a double-edged sword. At least that’s my current theory. It’s like walking a tightrope trying to get into the emotions of the characters running around in our brains, yet view the time and passion we invest in our writing with more emotional distance.

    I’ll ask: Are you reading any good fiction lately? I’ve found that immersing myself in someone else’s good writing for awhile tends to get me excited again. Especially sitting down and copying one of their scenes in my own manuscript format, sometimes letting myself go off on a tangent and take off in my own direction from where they started.

    Just a thought, but I won’t pretend to know what works for you. Just happy to see you still hanging around.

    • Thanks, Phillip, for a thought-provoking comment. We are very complex creatures, aren’t we? Hundreds, maybe thousands of factors merge into every single step we take, every thought we think, every decision we make. I’m fortunate in that slipping into or out-of the physical and emotional senses of my characters has never been difficult for me, even long before I was writing full time. As to the other part of the equation, I probably misunderstood your meaning. I give zero thought to the time or passion that goes into my writing. For me, that would be like thinking about the pebbles imbedded in the asphalt as I cross a street to go into a building.

      Reading? Yes. A few times when I’ve had brief lulls between novels I’ve read other works to get me going again, sometimes others, sometimes my own. But actually, I think I’ve never read so much in my life as I have over the past few months. For example, at the moment I’m in the middle of a Stephen King short story collection (Just After Sunset), a novel by James Lee Burke (Jolie Blon’s Bounce) and one of my own novels, The Consensus. Stacked to the right of my desk in my “next” pile are books by Cussler, Westlake, Block, Hugh Howey, Jack Higgins and Stephen King. I alternate reading with solving crossword puzzles and doing necessary chores (lawn, laundry, etc.) and watching some TV. The only factor missing from my life is writing. When I left cigars behind, I inadvertently disconnected bits of my neural network. Now I have to either wait for them to regrow or reconnect on their own or decide to help them along. We’ll see.

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