The Journal: To Achieve Success

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* To Achieve Success
* A Minor Change to the Journal
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“If I were to tell you today that your project is a waste of time, would you abandon it? If so, perhaps it’s best that you did. … [T]o achieve results that spell success … requires enjoyment of the writing process in and of itself—to see that as the reward.” Jane Friedman

To Achieve Success

Jane’s take (see “Of Interest”) is spot on:

To Achieve Success Requires Enjoyment of the Writing Process Itself.

Tattoo that to the inside of your eyelids.

I write because visiting with characters is fun. Not to interfere or impose my will on them—they’re characters, after all, not slaves—but just to visit. Mostly to look-in and see what’s going on.

I have more than a nodding acquaintance with several of them, especially Wes Crowley, TJ Blackwell, and General Amanda Lowrey. Well, and then Colonel Mark Hanson and Major Rebecca Hones. Then there are Nick Spalding, Stern Talbot, Rider Jones, Ray Acuna, and Joseph “Joey Bones” Salerno. Those and several others seem happy enough when I stop by. Well, Joey Bones puts on a smirk that I choose to believe indicates happiness. To think otherwise leaves me more than a little unnerved.

Of course, they all know I’m there to see what they’re doing. And they know if it’s interesting enough, I’ll probably write it down and then tell the whole world. And “interesting enough” is they key thing. Sometimes I get much more than just interested. Sometimes I get so exuberant that one of my characters at a party once hefted a glass of whiskey and proclaimed, “Check it out, kids. Stanbrough’s about to go all Vesuvius again.”

Then again, the characters don’t mind. I’m not committing larceny here. They don’t have flexible, working fingers of their own (their only in-born physical flaw), so it isn’t like they can write their story down for themselves. And let’s face it, my characters are hams. They enjoy the limelight, such as it is, and they love pretty much any publicity.

And really, given an un-addled mind, those are the two main ingredients for being able to write fiction: characters whose story is interesting to you, and your willingness to trust them to tell their story the way they want to tell it.

After that, it’s all gravy.

A Minor Change to the Journal

Things tend to run in cycles. I’ve heard from several people this week that they find it difficult to match my numbers when I’m writing. Awhile back, one even wrote that trying to keep up with my numbers is depressing. Sigh. That sort of sentiment crops up every now and then.

But seriously, what does it matter to your production how much or how little I write? What I do or don’t do in my own writing doesn’t directly affect your numbers in the slightest.

I mean no disrespect to those who feel that way, but frankly they’re kind of disrespecting themselves. And if you think about it, it’s silly. As I told a few, they shouldn’t be concerned with matching my numbers, or anyone else’s, really.

Some writers put far fewer words on the page than I do and some put far more. It will be the same for you. But so what? What’s important is that You establish Your goals and then strive to reach them. Someone famous once said,

The only valid comparison is what You did today with what You did yesterday.

If you want to be concerned with something, be concerned with consistently spending time in the chair and actually putting new words on the page while you’re there. If you do that (as many of you know), the numbers will take care of themselves.

I never meant posting my numbers to be some kind of competition or challenge. I post them (selfishly) to give myself a place to report and to illustrate what’s possible when you have all the time in the world.

But really, my spreadsheet gives me a place to report. And you all know what’s possible for you, in your world. So for the time being I’m going to try something new: I’m going to take away the Numbers section.

It’s the perfect time to try this. At the moment, my novel is stalled as the characters vie for who gets to open it. (grin) So I’m not really writing in earnest, but I’m having fun writing various openings.

I’ll continue to keep track of both fiction and nonfiction on my spreadsheet. More than likely I’ll report updates on numbers in the body of the Journal now and then, maybe each time I finish a novel or something. We’ll see.

In the meantime, drop in on your own characters. Visit a little. See what’s going on in their lives. And if it interests you, write it down.

Talk with you again later.

Of Interest

See “A Dog’s Tale” at Some good info here on dog searches. Types, methods, etc.

See “The 100 Most Popular Baby Names From 100 Years Ago” at Maybe interesting as a source for character names.

See “To Everyone Who Wants Me to Read Their Writing and Tell Them What to Do” at

See “Just how big in media does Apple want to be?” at See PG’s take.

See “Burglary: It’s Not Robbery” at Just in case anyone on the planet who’s a writer really doesn’t know this.

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

4 thoughts on “The Journal: To Achieve Success”

  1. I really don’t care abou your numbers. I have learned to ignore them.

    I am glad you are writing again, and sharing advise. You do what works for you, and keep sharing.

    • Thanks, Loyd. That’s why I always put them toward the bottom to make them easy to ignore or skip over.

  2. Talking about “To Everyone Who Wants Me to Read Their Writing and Tell Them What to Do”, I like the answer a Russian sci-fi author always sent to people who sent him their stories.

    He just responded (I’ve cut his full respond to make it more actual):

    1. I’m not a publisher or editor or agent. If you wrote something good, why do you send it to just another author like me? Send it to magazine, publisher or website that publishes your genre and format. They always need new material.

    2. I can’t guarantee you that I’ll read your text. Writing, health, family issues, new book by author I like, – anything can distract me from reading your text and especially from peer review. A you ready to wait for a year to get opinion like “Not bad. Probably you have to send it to a publisher”?

    3. Opinion of just a one person means nothing. Especially if person isn’t better reviewer then you. I’m not a critic, not a philologist, not even a bookseller. I’m just an author, with my own preferences and they can be very far from yours.

    4. One text tells nothing about author. Once upon a time I participated in an anonymous short story contest, reviewed by Sergei Lukyanenko (kinda famous and even translated to English author of The Night Watch series). He noted 2 stories from 80 that participated in contest. First one was the best of the best, he gave it 10/10, the second was fantastically stupid and bad, he gave it 0/10. Guess who was author of both of this stories?

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