The Journal, Sunday, July 8

Hey Folks,

I’m a guy who generally doesn’t “should” on people. (Thanks to my friend Lloyd Chaves for that bit of sleight of mind.)

Today I stumbled across one of the worst articles I’ve ever seen on writing. I won’t mention the name of it here (or the URL) because I don’t want to advertise it. But it was all about a number of steps to achieve efficiency as a writer.

Four of the “tips” were the same old time-worn crap everybody repeats almost constantly: find a good place to write (really? thanks for that); find time to write, etc. blah blah blah.

One “tip” was to use Grammarly or a similar program. I helped beta test Grammarly when it was first introduced. Worst Piece Of Crap EVER. It’s nothing more than a way for the creators to play on the flood of other horrible writing myths out there and make money from writers. My advice is to stay as far away from it as you can get.

Another “tip” was equally useful: write as fast as you can with the specific intent of going back to “correct” things later.

That has NEVER made sense to me.

That’s like loading up a large wheel barrow with dirt, moving it two feet, then dumping it so you can come back tomorrow, load it up again and move it the rest of the way.


This guy’s advice sucked canal water from all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, China and Mexico. Naturally, I went to Amazon and keyed in his name.

Yeah. Not a single novel, short story or short story collection. I didn’t even find any of this “guru’s” books on writing. Which of course I wouldn’t buy anyway because he has nary a single, solitary damn clue what he’s talking about.

(I’m just a tad angry, if you couldn’t tell. The utter chutzpah of the guy!)

Yet below his post, writer after writer aped “Great advice! Thanks!” Poor, poor, innocent little souls. I wonder how long it’ll be before any of them catch on? Not that any of them will ever write much. They’ll be too busy tinkering.

One writer (one of you, actually) told the guru that his “avoid self-editing” advice was stupid, though you were much nicer about it than I was.

I’m reminded of George Burns in the movie Oh God! This guy ought’a be selling earth shoes. Reading that post made me wanna chew wheels and spit nails. At him.

Now, I do try to pass along what I know, but I never pass along anything I don’t know. To me, that’s just unforgiveable. It’s like the writing “instructors” I’ve heard who say things like “Oh, I can’t explain what passive voice is, but I know it when I see it.”

Pure, unadulterated batcookies.

Way back, before I’d written more than about a zillion poems and a few short stories, I taught writing seminars and presented at writers’ conferences.

But even then, I stuck to what I knew.

I’m one of those lucky ones (to me) who apparently was dipped in the language at birth. I know the language, and I sense the nuances.

So that’s what I taught. You can find it in books like Writing Realistic Dialogue and Punctuation for Writers and Notes from Writing the World and a bunch of others.

But I never taught anything that was flat-out wrong and I never handed out bad, hurtful, advice. And I never will.

Okay, duck. Here comes a “should”: until you get a million or so words under your belt, you should be writing, not teaching others about writing. And again, that’s from a guy who generally doesn’t “should” on people.

Also note that my personal advice is genre (type) specific. For example, if you’ve written five million words of real poetry (the line, and therefore the line break, is the basic unit of the poem), you shouldn’t be spouting advice on writing novels or short stories.

The advice holds in any direction. If you’ve written a few million words in novels, stick to giving advice on novels. Same with short stories, screenplays, etc.

In other words, give advice (if you’re so inclined) about what you know. But seek advice (and listen) about what you don’t know. From credible sources.

But guys like the one I talked about above? He needs to hold hands with himself and shut the hell up.

See you soon. ​

Of Interest

See “The Importance of Creativity Time” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 730 (Journal)
So total words for the day:730

Writing of

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 2946
Total fiction words for the year………… 237162
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5310
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 84486
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 321398

Calendar Year 2018 Novels to Date………………………… 5
Calenday Year 2018 Novellas to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2018 Short Stories to Date……… 11
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 31
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 6
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………………… 193