In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: Trust Your Process
* Only a little over
* The Numbers
Quotes of the Day
“I have always read to be entertained, and have always written to return the favor.” John Gilstrap
“I often tell people that I don’t want to think too hard about the creative process for fear of breaking a machine that I don’t know how to fix.” John Gilstrap
“Remember always that the voice in your head is unique to you. Even a well-meaning teacher can ruin that voice if you’re not steadfast in your defense of it.” John Gilstrap
“Aspiring authors, get this through your head. Cover art serves one purpose, and one purpose only, to get potential customers interested long enough to pick up the book to read the back cover blurb. In the internet age that means the thumb nail image needs to be interesting enough to click on. That’s what covers are for.” Larry Correia
Topic: Trust Your Process
In today’s “Of Interest,” I link to David Farland’s “Trusting Your Process.” There are some good tips if you haven’t yet taken the leap yet to trusting your creative subconscious.
For just one example from the post, he (or maybe Sam Witt, whom he mentions in the article) says you should
“Prepare to write: the night before you write, think about the scene that you want to write. Create an outline on a notepad, and go to sleep.
“The reason for this is twofold. You want your subconscious mind to be focusing on writing, and it will actually begin working on the story in your sleep. But this also helps you ‘defeat the blank page’ by deciding what scene to work on and how to approach it.”
Again, if you haven’t gotten past needing the safety net of conscious thought yet to write, this is probably pretty good advice. If it works for you, use it.
Farland started the post with a question: “What is your writing process?”
Well, my process is different, and (harkening back to the title of his post) I do trust my process. And because I trust my process and was invited by his question to talk about it, I left a comment:
“I sit down, put my fingers on the keyboard, and trust my characters to tell the story that they, not I, are living. I write 800-1200 words per hour and take a break about every hour and a half. When I come back to the novel, I read-over (in alpha [creative subconscious]) what I wrote during the previous session, then keep flowing.
“In this way, since November 1, 2020, I’ve written 276,657 words of fiction in five novels and about 1/3 of a sixth. Well, plus one short story of 5500 words. (This last novel will be number 56 in six years.) [I misspoke. It will actually be number 56 in seven years, not six.]
“For me, writing is strictly a creative-mind activity. I never allow my conscious mind into it because I don’t want to signal my creative subconscious that I don’t trust it.”
I left the comment not to be negative or argumentative, but to maybe let others who read his post know that there is another way.
When I first discovered writing into the dark, I didn’t believe it could possibly work. Still, the idea of it was intriguing. So I decided to test it for myself. As I did that, I remained aware of my feelings, being especially watchful for feelings of fear, which I’d been told would quickly derail the process of writing into the dark.
I’m stubborn, and I’m persistent, and both of those are probably understatements. When I set out to test a new technique, especially anything so radical and frightening as writing a novel without an outline, I put my nose to the ground, my fanny in the air, and plow ahead.
To do that, I had to convince myself that if I failed at writing into the dark, nothing would change. I could always go back to outlining novel after novel and writing nothing but outlines. And telling others I hadn’t actually written a novel yet because I hadn’t found a cast of characters I could live with that long. (Yes, that’s what I told people for 40-some years.)
I convinced myself that if I failed at WITD the world would not end, and nobody would come to my house to beat me up or shoot me. In other words, I convinced myself I had absolutely nothing to lose.
So I was able to give myself over fully to the technique. I would trust myself, I would trust the characters to tell the story that they, not I, were living, and I would see what happened. That was on April 15, 2014.
Admittedly, I first tried the technique only on short fiction. The first short story I wrote into the dark is titled “Consuela.” I still remember it after all this time. Anyway, over a period of months I wrote 70 or 80 short stories using the technique. One of those was titled “Adobe Walls.”
I remember that one because the characters in “Adobe Walls” grabbed me. The main character, especially, said he had a lot more story to tell.
So finally, on October 19, 2014, I took a deep breath, put my fingers on the keyboard, and started my very first novel, determined to write it into the dark. That novel was titled Leaving Amarillo, and over the next few years, intermixed with many other novels in other genres, it grew to be the 11-volume Wes Crowley saga.
The thing is, the only way to know whether something will work for you is to test it for yourself. Most writers never try writing into the dark. Most writers, if they even think about trying it, practically break out in hives. They succumb to the immediate fear that hits as a result of just thinking about it. But for those who overcome that feat, a wide, beautiful new world awaits.
For a long time, I’ve believed that following Heinlein’s Rules and writing into the dark will work for anybody. I still believe that, but really, it isn’t true.
It worked for me because I’m tenacious. If I had given into the fear even one time as I was writing those short stories—if I had gone back to thinking about writing and talking about writing and fretting about writing instead of sitting down and actually writing—I wouldn’t have written even that very first novel, much less 55 novels going on 56.
But by writing Leaving Amarillo into the dark, I proved to myself, for myself, that WITD works. And I’ve never looked back. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the fears abate quickly once you give yourself over to the technique, once you truly trust yourself and your characters.
Only a little over 3700 words yesterday, but I also did a lot of work on the ‘bible,’ especially on the security teams, so I count it as a really good day.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Trusting Your Process” at https://mystorydoctor.com/trusting-your-process/.
See “Are You A Phil Or A Doug?” at https://killzoneblog.com/2021/01/are-you-a-phil-or-a-doug.html.
See “How to Evoke Emotions with Book Cover Design” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/how-to-evoke-emotions-with-book-cover-design/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1200 words
Writing of The Journey Home: Part 6 (novel)
Day 1…… 1628 words. Total words to date…… 1628
Day 2…… 2011 words. Total words to date…… 3639
Day 3…… 4722 words. Total words to date…… 8361
Day 4…… 3766 words. Total words to date…… 12127
Total fiction words for January……… 75230
Total fiction words for the year………… 75230
Total nonfiction words for January… 21160
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 21160
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 96390
Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 55
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 215
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31