The Myths, and What Gives?

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Shameless Self-Promotion
* Welcome
* A Quick Lesson on Spanish Name Pronunciation
* “The Old 710”
* The Myths, and What Gives?
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” Muhammad Ali

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” BB King

“The island on which traditional publishers and their camp followers live provides a very warped view of the real book world. … Approximately one out of ten thousand ‘kids’ would choose a paperback instead of an ebook.” The Passive Guy

Shameless Self-Promotion

A day or two ago was the 7th anniversary of my stand-alone SF novel The Day the Earth Shuddered and Went Dark.

You can read descriptions of any of my books or short story collections by selecting the genre tab at StoneThread Publishing, clicking the genre tab, then clicking the cover of the title you’re interested in.

And be sure to read about our great discounts when you order direct. Those are on the home page at StoneThread.


By the way, welcome to Denise and any other new subscribers. Good to have you aboard.

Be sure to check out the freebies at the Free Archives (and more) tab and at the Writer Downloads tab over on my author site.

“The Old 710”

That’s the title of my short story that went out to subscribers to the Stanbrough Writes substack yesterday. I always forget until it hits my inbox.

If you would like to read it, Click Here. If you would like to subscribe and get a free short story from your fiction-writing instructor every Friday, click the Subscibe button at the bottom of that post.

The Myths, and What Gives?

The myths of fiction writing are so prevalent that the “open rate” among my subscribers is sometimes really low.

I can only assume new readers and new subscribers open the Journal, see information that doesn’t conform to the vast majority of how-to writing books, and split. Some probably break out into a cold sweat and shove their computer away as if it might be possessed by the devil or something. (grin) The myths are just that prevalent.

Instead of teaching the myths, I teach self-confidence, self-reliance, and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Stuff like that. See my Disclaimer at the end of this post.

You’re all familiar with the myths I’m talking about:

  • you must know at all times what’s going to happen next (very unlike real life) so before you write a word of the story,
  • you must outline (critical mind)
  • you must write character sketches (critical mind)
  • you must do some world-building (critical mind)

Then, when you finally actually write the thing (if you do, if you aren’t already bored with it because you already know how the story will end),

  • you must revise
  • you must consult others for their input (critique groups, etc.)
  • you must rewrite X number of times
  • you must polish (whatever that means)

All of that for one novel.

How long does that take? Not to mention with every revision and every rewrite, you’re taking the story further away from your unique, original voice and the story the characters actually lived.

I hasten to add, that’s fine. If that’s your process, good for you. But wow, do you ever need this Journal.

Still, without it you will learn the “secret” someday on your own.

Well, if you don’t give up writing fiction altogether and find something fun to do instead. Something that isn’t nearly as tedious and arduous and labor-intensive as most of the how-to books make writing fiction out to be.

But back to the Journal and the low open rate:

For just one example, even on Thursday’s post, with the (I thought) enticing title of “Practice Exercise” (Hey, that alone would have nailed me to the screen) “Keep Coming Back, and Thank You,” the open rate was only 39%. And that was only among those who viewed the post, which was only about 75% of my subscribers.

Now, I understand that many blogs on various topics have much lower open rates and that low rates are to be expected.

But I’m writing a dedicated blog aimed at a dedicated audience of folks who want to cut their learning curve while actively writing fiction.

And I’m passing along information on writing fiction that you literally cannot get nowhere else, at least regularly. So I’m a little stymied.

What gives? Any ideas?

  • Is it the format?
  • Something I should add?
  • Something I should discontinue?
  • Are the topics not up to snuff? (And what topics would you suggest?)
  • Is the typical Journal post “too” something? Too long? Too short? Too personal? Too varied?
  • Does it arrive too often?

I am also aware some of you only “catch up” on the Journal posts once a week or so. Realizing that is why I started slapping (I hope informative) titles on the Journal posts almost two years ago. (The first “titled” Journal entry posted on November 3, 2019.)

Having watched a lot of Vin Zandri’s YouTube channel segments, I know he talks about writing at times. And he and I write about the same way and discuss similar topics.

Vin also does a boilerplate marketing and promo bit for the first minute or two. And my buddy Dan Baldwin adds a little promo to the end of each of his weekly blogettes.

Given how seldom some open the Journal, that’s a good idea. So I will do a little of that beginning today in the Journal. (Thanks, Vin and Dan.) Probably right after the Quotes of the Day, so easy enough to skip over if you aren’t interested. Like my Numbers near the end.

Vin’s regular videos (not including the new format, in which he interviews real people about their job, life experiences, etc., which are very good by the way and I recommend subscribing), are about 10 to 15 minutes long.

I imagine it takes about that long to read a typical edition of the Journal.

And Dean Wesley Smith, as much as I admire the guy and appreciate all I learned from him in my early days as a fiction writer — FREE, by the way, just as I offer now in the Journal — Dean has gotten farther away from doling out free writing advice and spends most of his posts promoting himself, WMG Press, and his Kickstarter campaigns.

So again, any ideas on how I can improve the Journal?

You don’t have to leave a comment either here at the substack or at the Journal website unless doing that is more convenient for you. Feel free to email me directly at with any concerns or recommendations.

I must be doing something wrong.

But you don’t even have to go out of your way to visit the Journal website each morning to see what’s new. The Journal is delivered directly into your inbox.

Okay, so I’ll kind’a sort’a hope to get a lot of comments or emails on this post. I want to make reading the Journal a good experience for you. Please be honest.

If you’re reading this, even if you are NOT yet a subscriber, you can comment or email too. And you can subscribe (it’s FREE) by clicking the Subscribe button below. You can also Share This Post at the second button below.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Write Only for Yourself” at[dot]com/live/b_Vh4tDJKQw.

See “Where Have All the YA Paperbacks Gone?” at

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1250

Writing of Blackwell Ops 10: Jeremy Stiles
The Way Things Go

Day 1…… 1635 words. To date…… 1635
Day 2…… 2464 words. To date…… 4099
Day 3…… 1615 words. To date…… 5714
Day 4…… 3808 words. To date…… 9522
Day 5…… 2057 words. To date…… 11579
Day 6…… 3563 words. To date…… 15142
Day 7…… 1881 words. To date…… 17023
Day 8…… 3047 words. To date…… 20070
Day 9…… 2588 words. To date…… 22658
Day 10…. 3572 words. To date……26230

Fiction for September…………………… 38212
Fiction for 2023………………………… 190521
Fiction since August 1………………… 100534
Nonfiction for September……………… 12860
Nonfiction for the year……………… 187330
Annual consumable words………… 377851

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 3
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 74
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)… 232
Short story collections…………………… 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

2 thoughts on “The Myths, and What Gives?”

  1. Here’s my answer. While I hope you get all the other answers you’re after, I imagine that you are doing nothing wrong. Your content is great and rarified.

    Knowing this is the best place to start my morning, I have been reading this daily for many years in a browser. Not without a struggle. Explicitly, not subscribing to any of your trackers (lol). People are strange though predictable once you find the pattern. My lurking MO for example.

    Critical Brain has created my odd pattern. Because at one point That Voice actually told me to delete your site shortcut from my desktop and browser bookmarks. Shouting a myth, it flat out told me I spend too much time looking at Stanbrough’s good ol’ writing advice when I should really be writing. So, I deleted them. Now, I have to manually type in your web address every single time, for years. That Voice tells me without fail not to enter. And grumbles when I do.

    So. Sign up for an easy email newsletter, and click through? Never. Crazy, right?

    I suspect most truly, fearfully, painfully know you are here with the gospel, all the while wrestling their own Critic, and then play catch-up-as-they-can because they are just busy avoiding opening their email so that they can avoid or read or garden or hike or commute or cook or, gasp, Create.

    • Thanks for your response, Sebastian.

      First, some advice. If my Journal interrupts your writing time, by all means write instead. Seriously. But follow Heinlein’s Rules. And let the characters tell the story. After all, it is they, not you, who are actually living it. The Journal was never intended to siphon off writing time.

      That said, the Journal shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to read, maybe 10 or 15. So that’s only about 250 words worth of writing. You’ll have to make that choice for yourself.

      Actually, I wish everyone would simply bookmark the Journal and check in each day to see what’s there. If they would do that, I would do away with that particular substack. It would also save me about an hour each day of my own writing time.

      Kicking critical mind out of your writing process is simply a matter of being determined and deciding to do it. Like the old Nike commercials used to say, Just Do It. Then you have to stick with it. But you’ll have a lot more fun writing than you ever did.

      Keep moving forward, brother, and keep having fun.

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