In today’s Journal
* Quote of the Day
* Topic: Welcome and About The Journal
* Of Interest
Quote of the Day
“[R]rewriting a story because you want to make it ‘perfect’ before you sell it? That’s a fool’s errand. You’ll end up hating the thing most likely and you’ll waste all the time you could’ve been writing new material.” Screenwriter Matt Pettipas
Topic: Welcome, About The Journal, and Archives
Welcome to Diana and any other new subscribers I might have missed. I’m glad you’re here.
I’ve been posting articles to the Journal since 2014. As a fiction writer, I try to adhere to Heinlein’s Business Habits for Writers, better known as Heinlein’s Rules. I follow them as they were originally written, but slightly updated for the 21st century.
As a writing instructor or mentor, I also teach other writers to follow them. My least favorite rule, and the one I most often fall off of, is Rule 4. Storytelling is so much fun that I often forget to submit or publish what I’ve written.
I also practice as a writer and teach as an instructor a relatively unknown technique called “writing into the dark.” WITD basically means writing without planning ahead, doing character sketches, outlining, etc.
But on a deeper level it means having confidence in yourself and in what you’ve learned (and passively absorbed) over the years about storytelling. And it means putting all of that knowledge into practice while having an absolute blast.
For a moment, consider how lucky you are to be a fiction writer: you are the very first person ever to see, hear, etc. the story your characters are living. Before it’s all over, maybe thousands or even millions of others will have read that story too, but you will always be the first. That’s very special.
But really, we can enjoy the stories our characters are living without writing them down. We write them down — record them — only so we can share them with others. And voila, we become story writers. Well, story recorders.
As a fiction writer, you’re a bridge between your characters and their stories and a wider readership. You record the stories, then create a cover and some sales copy for them, then publish them, hopefully through an aggregator like Draft2Digital.com. (I also publish separately to Amazon.) The whole thing is a kind of wonderful and wonder-filled magic.
The most important bit of advice I offer is this: Remember your role.
Please don’t get cocky and full of yourself. You’re a writer, a recorder, of the stories your characters are living. They aren’t your stories. They are your characters’ stories. Even Stephen King refers to himself as his characters’ stenographer.
It might help to look at it like this: If your characters didn’t exist or if they chose not to share their story with you, then you would have only your own bland life to write about.
So be glad your characters chose you as their recorder. But never forget, you are useful to them only because they don’t have physical fingertips with which to manipulate the keys on a computer keyboard.
Your characters trust you to let them tell their stories. Don’t violate that trust. Don’t allow your conscious, critical mind to second-guess what your characters give you. Don’t revise. Don’t rewrite. If you wouldn’t presume to tell your neighbors or friends how to live their life, extend the same courtesy to your characters.
Again, welcome to The Daily Journal. If you visit the site you’ll see a search box in the sidebar. I suggest you use it to find posts that contain topics of interest to you.
As search terms, to begin with I suggest writing into the dark, setting, scene, or characters. You can also look for the creative subconscious or the conscious, critical mind. Or much broader topics, like self-publishing (or indie publishing) or marketing.
Finally, I actually updated The Journal Archives page this morning. It now contains links to free, searchable PDF archives from 2014 all the way through 2021.
Again, welcome. Glad to have you along on the journey.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Media Kit Workshop” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/media-kit-workshop/.
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.