The Journal: Take Two on Writing Sloppy

In today’s Journal

* OMG Alert
* Topic: Take Two on Writing Sloppy
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Every now and then Dean mentions The Copyright Handbook by Stephen Fishman from NOLO. It’s an essential investment for a writer.

At the moment, NOLO is having a 50% off sale on everything they offer, including The Copyright Handbook. Visit Use the promo code BF50 when you order.

Plus, at the moment the handbook is on sale for only $39.99. Which means if you use the code, you can get the book for only twenty bucks.

Topic: Take Two on Writing Sloppy

Yesterday I pretty much ranted about writing slop intentionally and what a terrible idea it is. I haven’t changed my mind.

Writing crap with the intention of going back to fix it later is an insane waste of time. It’s like filling a wheelbarrow, moving only partway to your destination, then dumping it so you can come back and fill it again tomorrow.

For anyone who’s never filled a wheelbarrow by hand with a shovel, trust me: dumping it short of your destination only so you can fill it again tomorrow is a stupid idea. Nobody who’s operated a shovel would even consider it.

Likewise, no serious writer should ever consider writing sloppy intentionally just because he can revisit it (revise it, rewrite it, edit it) later.

The friend who handed me the idea for yesterday’s topic didn’t directly cite a particular article or author. Nor did he mention the writer’s name or provide a link to the article itself.

But another friend, Phillip McCollum, found the article, or at least one that was extremely similar, and sent me the link. I am grateful.

I read that article myself, and I have to say I agree with the author of the article and with the writer she was profiling. The writer wasn’t advocating intentionally writing garbage from the outset.

Like Dean wesley Smith’s advice that you should “dare to be bad” (which he got from Nina Kiriki Hoffman), the writer profiled in the article was actually saying you should do your best, then publish what you write no matter what you think of it personally.

Now that’s advice I can get behind.

It’s all about intention and believing in your work. Defending your work. In other words, it’s all about self-confidence and believing in yourself.

Put simply, if you write to the best of your ability at the time, and if you believe in yourself enough to publish what you write, you will never go wrong.

You have to get past the notion that you are the sole judge of your work. Judging your work is not your job. You really are the worst judge of your own work, and that holds true whether you think the work is good OR bad. Judging your work is the reader’s job, but he can’t do his job unless you publish what you’ve written, warts and all.

But you (as the reader in this case) be the judge of the article yourself. The article is by McKenzie Brickl and it’s about writer Andrew Watts. You can find it at

A few notes on the article from my personal perspective —

1. Like most of America, the author of the article defines a “novella” as up to 40,000 words. Outside of America (and in America before traditional publishers artificially inflated word counts to reach certain price points), 25,000 to 40,000 words is a short novel. A novella is 15,000 to 24,999 words. (For my realistic “Fiction Length” guidelines, email me. I’ll be happy to share.)

2. Yes, by all means go with Amazon KDP, but don’t go exclusively with Amazon KDP. Go wide.

3. Note that Mr. Watts wasn’t intentionally writing sloppy. He was “just writing for fun,” which is exactly what I recommend.

4. The quote that stands out most to me from Watts is “I believe in myself.” Yes. What he said.

Through his quotes in the article, Andrew Watts outlined the “secret” of success as a professional fiction writer:

1. Believe in yourself and your work,

2. Do the best you can at your current skill level,

3. Publish what you write and let readers be the judge,

4. Continue to learn and apply what you learn to your next novel, novella or short story.

5. Repeat 1-4 into perpetuity.

Happy writing.

Today things are shifting back to normal. Anf of course I’m still adjusting my personal schedule, a seemingly never-ending process. I’ll write on the novel and maybe even finish it. However, I want to get this edition of the Journal out, so I’ll go back to reporting my own fiction numbers one day late.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Radio Secrets” at Some great history and insights. Neil Gaiman twice in three days! Are you kidding me? And video to boot.

See “Happy 100th Birthday” at Story ideas abound.

See “The Top 10 Reasons to be Thankful for Self-Publishing” at I recommend reading the Passive Guy’s take, then clicking through to the original post.

See “Why Online Mobile Publishing Is the Future” at

See “My Current WIP” at

See “Stay Safe Out There” at My thoughts exactly.

See “17 Specialized Manuscript Publishers that Accept Direct Submissions” at I queried one of these publishers via comment form to find out about rights, a rights-reversion clause, and royalty split, none of which were included in their submission guidelines. I received a quick response via email, but the publisher only directed me back to the submission guidelines. Sigh.

The Numbers

Writing of Blackwell Ops 7: Philip Dunstan
(Brought forward…… 25849)

Day 16…… 1700 words. Total words to date…… 27549
Day 17…… 1018 words. Total words to date…… 28567
Day 18…… 1687 words. Total words to date…… 30254

Fiction words yesterday…………………… 0
Nonfiction words today…………… 920 (Journal)

Total fiction words for the month……… 10886
Total fiction words for the year………… 395979
Total nonfiction words for the month… 19200
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 300280
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 696529

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

8 thoughts on “The Journal: Take Two on Writing Sloppy”

  1. I think, this size stuff is different from country to country.

    Russian standarts are different, it’s counted not in words, but in “print sheets” ( 1 print sheet = 40 000 symbols). A novel starts from from 10 print sheets, optimal for a book is 14.5-16 print sheets (pocketbooks are not popular).

    The genre structure comes from age of literary magazines.

    Roman – a novel. 10 print sheets, it’s about 64 000 words (easy to remember – there’re chess cells).

    Provest – mostly translated as novella. In ancient time it meant just “a tale” (Tale of Bygone Years).

    Now it’s something too short to be a novel and too long to be a short story. If it’s published in a mahazine, a novel is broken to separate issues and povest is publised fully. Everything’s Eventual by Steven King is as long as a povest, but it’s published in a short story collection.

    Even professors of philology can’t tell, how differ a povest from novel and a short story.

    Rasskaz – literally, ‘a tale’ (razzkazyvat – to tell). Short fiction of any kind.

    Novella – rasskaz with twisted end. “German style” story, like ones by Edgar Poe.

    As you can see, a huge mess between novel and novella and meaning of this words in languages can be source of plenty mistakes.

    • Interesting. Yes, what things are called is different. The point is, traditional publishing changed the definition of “novel” when they realized they had to hit a certain number of words to reach certain price points. Here (in publishing) they measure in print sheets too, but here they’re called “signatures.” A signature is a large, single sheet of paper on which 4, 8, 12, 16, 24 or 32 pages are printed and from which they’re cut, then folded and sewn together. For more info, see So other than the language difference, things are pretty much the same the world over.

      I use my own definitions to help me set pricing. But most “major” organizations here wouldn’t consider 30,000 words a novel, because they’ve been influenced by traditional publishing. It’s all very silly. Many novels of major writers (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Elie Wiesel, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, many others) are “short” by today’s standards, yet they aren’t considered novellas. It’s all just labels. And I don’t care what others call my work as long as they keep buying and reading it. (grin)

Comments are closed.