The Journal, Tuesday, November 27

Hey Folks,

A new favorite quote:

“Don’t ever write anything you don’t like yourself and if you do like it, don’t take anyone’s advice about changing it. They just don’t know.” — Raymond Chandler

And another one:

“The more you reason the less you create.” — Raymond Chandler

Topic: Learning and Being Remminded

Professional athletes, first responders and others work in occupations where strength and flexibility are necessary.

For those who are conscientious in those jobs, training and exercise never stop. If they do, strength and flexibility reach a plateau, then begin to decline. Muscles begin to atrophy as they are used less and muscle memory “forgets” how to do certain things.

Less than one year after I left the Marine Corps (and stopped exercising regularly) I tore a ligament in my right shoulder while attempting to move a log that apparently preferred to remain where it was.

That was 26 years ago, and I still have trouble working a screwdriver (the tool, not the drink) with my right hand.

It wasn’t a large log, and it wasn’t all that heavy. I just employed a bad technique and hadn’t used my muscles in that particular combination for a long while.

Professionals in any endeavor also never stop learning. Pro athletes, first responders, military members and others continually learn new strategies, tactics and techniques and refine how they do what they do.

For the professional writer, it’s the same. Moderate exercise — doing what we are able to do — keeps us healthier and more able to sit in the chair for longer periods of time. Hence, physical exercise directly translates into greater productivity.

Likewise, ongoing learning applies for the professional fiction writer. When we continue to actively learn new techniques, we exercise and strengthen the mental synapses that keep us up on our game.

The only difference — and it’s a huge difference — is that better, more original storytelling is a creative endeavor. It’s a function of the subconscious mind.

The conscious mind does have a role to play. We take in new information with the conscious mind.

We “decide” which techniques we want to learn, which classes to take, which instructors to trust. We listen attentively, take notes, and consider how the technique will improve our stories.

Afterward, we apply what we’ve learned, but we do that with the creative, subconscious mind. Before we begin to write a new story, perhaps we consciously choose to practice using the five senses at least once in every major scene.

And when we begin to write, WITHOUT FURTHER CONSCIOUS THOUGHT ABOUT IT, suddenly our POV character is noticing things about the setting that none of our POV characters before noticed. And he’s expressing those things via his opinion of the physical setting.

The character also seems to know inherently when to describe (through his opinion) a setting in detail and when to skip over it, maybe touching only the high points or maybe describing it with only a single word or phrase or sentence.

For example, a protagonist will notice and describe in detail (through his opinion of the setting) the station house or apartment where he spends a lot of his time.

He’ll do the same the first time he enters a formal library in a mansion that is also a crime scene.

But when he gets out of his car and goes into a building, he might provide only a vague description of the front of the building itself (brick or block or wood slat, double or single door, chrome and glass or wood, etc.), and probably no description at all of the sidewalk he crosses on his way in.

You know. The details that pull the reader into the scene and ground him in the story.

But the five senses are only one technique to take on board. There are a million other things to learn.

You’ve learned with your conscious mind hundreds or thousands of things that your subconscious, creative mind employs every day without thinking about them.

When to use a period or a question mark at the end of a sentence, for example. How to recognize and create a group of words that contain a subject and a verb (a sentence).
Maybe even when to omit a subject or verb and write a fragment, like evey group of words in this and the previous and the next paragraph, when it will have a stronger impact on the reader.

All unintentionally. All without actually thinking about it. All with the subconscious, creative mind.

You learned all of those things in school with your conscious mind. But you apply them, without conscious thought, with your subconscious, creative mind.

So trust yourself. Choose with your conscious mind what to learn next about this wonderful craft of writing. Apply your conscious mind to take it in.

Then stop thinking about it, shift into the creative subconscious mode and practice. What you’ve learned will come through and your writing will improve.

And maybe best of all, if you also are occasionally reminded of techniques you learned previously, those skills will remain fresh and new. And yours. And they won’t atrophy.

I rolled out way early this morning at 1 a.m. I awoke from a very brief dream in which I was looking at my writing ‘puter. My fingers were on the keyboard, and my WIP was on the screen.

As I watched, the screen went dark. That’s what woke me up, with a bit of a jolt.

So I got up, got dressed, made a cup of coffee, and padded out to the Hovel. When I sat down, the screen came up fine. Then I glanced down and noticed the power cord was still unplugged from yesterday, when I carried this ‘puter up to the house.

The subconscious mmind is a wonderful thing. (grin)

I spent the first two-plus hours basically waking up, writing the long topic above, and scanning the internet for items of interest.

To the novel, finally, at 4:30.

I got some writing done. I have to head to Sierra Vista now.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Too Much and Too Little” at The biggest gem I took away from this is “I am focused on this writing challenge … because it will get the writing back into complete focus for me.” His post led to the topic above.

See “First Page Critique – Zip & Millie: Siberian Adventure” at Of particular value, “In all genres, pictures from the writer’s vivid imagination must translate to the page” and “By physically acting out the movements, rather than simply visualizing them in your head, you’ll have a better idea how to explain each step to the reader.” But there’s much more.

See “No One To Talk To” at I’ll check this blog from time to time and if I see something I think might help, I’ll add it here.

See “How to Make a Website in 2018” at This is a useful guide full of tips even if you already have a website.

For a great deal more, see “First Site Guide” at

See “BookBaby Marketing Conference (Part III)” at

Fiction Words: 2798
Nonfiction Words: 1210 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4008

Writing of Dread (novel, tentative title)

Day 1…… 3706 words. Total words to date…… 3706
Day 2…… 3023 words. Total words to date…… 6729
Day 3…… 4479 words. Total words to date…… 11208
Day 4…… 5909 words. Total words to date…… 17117
Day 5…… 3396 words. Total words to date…… 20513
Day 6…… 3363 words. Total words to date…… 23876
Day 7…… 2427 words. Total words to date…… 26303
Day 8…… 0587 words. Total words to date…… 26890
Day 9…… 1057 words. Total words to date…… 27947
Day 10… 2798 words. Total words to date…… 30745

Total fiction words for the month……… 77361
Total fiction words for the year………… 455891
Total nonfiction words for the month… 17150
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 168256
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 623897

Calendar Year 2018 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Calenday Year 2018 Novellas to Date…………………… 3
Calendar Year 2018 Short Stories to Date……… 11
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 35
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 193
Short story collections…………………………………………………… 31

Note: This Journal and my Pro-Writers blog will always be free and are funded only by your gracious contributions. To make a one-time donation, click the Donate button under the clock at the top of the Journal page. If you’d like to become a patron, click Patronage and have a look at the rewards. If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider sharing this post with your friends. Thanks!