In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: Why Most Fiction Writers Will Never Get Here
* Of Interest
Quotes of the Day
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.” Mark Twain
“But they are amazingly hard to follow—which is why there are so few professional writers and so many aspirants, and which is why I’m not afraid to give away the racket!” Robert A. Heinlein on his “Business Habits”
“What [Heinlein’s Rules] did for me was to finally get me out of the stupid teaching from school and allow me to apply logic to the craft.” Dean Wesley Smith
“[Heinlein’s Rules are] thinning-the-herd rules. … [I]f you have a million want-to-be writers before Rule #1, by the time you get to the end of those simple five business rules, you will be lucky to have a dozen professionals.” Dean Wesley Smith
Topic: Why Most Fiction Writers Will Never Get Here
Yesterday, I wrote about “How I Got Here.” I ended that segment with “I only wish everyone could experience such joy. But sadly, that will never happen.” So today, I’ll talk about why most fiction writers will never get here.
Heinlein himself lays out the main reason in the second Quote of the Day. The other big reason is that writers, like most humans (and water) follow the path of least resistance. They do what they’re conditioned to do, the practice becomes their comfort zone, and there they remain.
(In a very happy coincidence, Dean Wesley Smith posted about Heinlein’s Rules in his blog today. Please go read it and pay attention to what he says about his own experience.)
All of that said and despite what you’re about to read here, whether or not you someday get to where I am really is all up to you. You can bust through the relatively thin wall between doing what seems easiest and true freedom in writing if you want to. All it takes is a litte determination.
But by all means, if I or anyone else can dissuade you from writing fiction simply by presenting facts, chances are, writing fiction isn’t your passion anyway.
First, when I say you can be where I am if you want to, I’m not talking about financial success or making money. If making money is your primary driver, writing fiction is not the business for you. Save yourself some time and anguish and just trust me on that.
When I say you can get to where I am if you want to, I’m talking about writing fiction, period. I’m talking about telling stories for the sheer joy of telling stories, and doing that over the long haul. Years or decades. Most fiction writers today will never do that.
Why? Because most fiction writers who are otherwise physically and mentally healthy and able still can’t bring themselves to discount all the BS myths about writing fiction that people (especially teachers and professors) have fed them over their entire lives.
These writers allow their conscious, critical mind (and the conscious, critical minds of others) to “correct” their characters’ story. Which, of course, is ludicrous.
Most fiction writers believe they must outline (novels), revise, rewrite, invite criticism, get input from “Beta readers,” and then polish the work. And all because people Who Don’t Write Fiction have told them they must do those things. Note that ALL of those activities stem from the conscious, critical mind. You can’t do ANY of those from the creative subconscious.
But most writers have heard and accepted that garbage for so long that they naturally assume it must be true. Then along comes someone like Dean Wesley Smith or Harvey Stanbrough to tell you 99% of that crap is NOT true and —
Well, let’s just say my job as a writing instructor is seldom a pleasant experience. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “It’s far easier to fool people than it is to convince them they’ve been fooled.”
Think about that. I’m not even asking other writers to trust me. I’m only suggesting they should trust themselves more than they trust other people. Nobody else knows the story you’re writing as well as you do. And even you don’t know it as well as your characters do.
After all, they, not you, are actually living it.
When you allow your or others’ conscious, critical mind to second-guess your characters, you send a clear message to your own creative subconscious that you don’t trust it.
Hmmm. Maybe that’s why you have so much trouble coming up with ideas. Why should the creative subconscious give you ideas or tell you stories when it knows you’ll just change what it gives you anyway?
(I see the creative subconsciou standing in the semi-dark recesses of your mind with its little arms crossed defiantly. “Nope. If you’re so smart, go make up your own stories.”)
But this is getting long. Tomorrow then, “Why Most Fiction Writers Will Never Get Here, Part 2.”
Talk with you again then.
See “Heinlein’s Rules” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/heinleins-rules/.
See “The Three Types of Opening Lines” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/08/the-three-types-of-opening-lines.html. Grain of salt.
See “A Love-Hate Relationship with Book Promotion” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/a-love-hate-relationship-with-book-promotion/. Looks interesting, maybe.
The Journal…………………………………… 860 words
Writing of Blackwell Ops 8 (tentative title, novel)
Day 19… 2117 words. Total words to date…… 41729
Day 20… 2025 words. Total words to date…… 43754
Day 21… 1770 words. Total words to date…… 45524
Day 22… 3296 words. Total words to date…… 48820
Day 23… 3259 words. Total words to date…… 52079
Day 24… 2712 words. Total words to date…… 54791
Total fiction words for August……… 5971
Total fiction words for the year………… 58467
Total nonfiction words for August… 4370
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 110610
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 169077
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. I’ve never said WITD is “the only way” to write, nor will I ever. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among other topics.
2 thoughts on “The Journal: Why Most Fiction Writers Will Never Get Here”
“I’m only suggesting they should trust themselves more than they trust other people.”
Got that one years ago. Great advice. Dropping Impostor Syndrome is the key to enjoying writing more than almost any other step. (Except for those who drop it WAY too soon.)
“Except for those who drop it WAY too soon.” You had me right up to that point.
Most of us, probably you included, were telling stories long before we were even aware there was an alphabet. So-called “impostor syndrome” comes packaged along with other myths, like “writing is an elevated calling” and “to be a Writer is something special” and all that nonsense. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Maybe I’ll talk about this in a post.
A writer is a person who writes, period. Like a maid is a person who cleans apartments or a mechanic is a person who repairs car engines. A professional writer is a remote entertainer. S/he writes stories for others to enjoy.
Most writers who go over and over and over a word or a sentence or a paragraph or a story do so because they have an elevated sense of the importance of that element or of that story. Yet a particular word (etc.) is no more important to a story than a particular nail is to a stick-built house.
Finally, literally anyone can tell a story. Of course, those for whom telling stories is a passion dig deeper and study the craft to learn how to make their stories more interesting to other people. But if you trust your characters and your creative subconscious, there are far fewer of those than most people believe there are too. I’ll cover them in my post on Tuesday.
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