The Myths Are Very Much Alive

In today’s Journal

* The Myths Are Very Much Alive
* Of Interest

The Myths Are Very Much Alive

If you want to see the myths in action (strongly) read “Starting Over. It Never Gets Easier” at and the first couple of comments.

I was amazed. This is a bestselling author (a pair of authors and sisters, actually) talking about how hard it is to start a new novel. How discouraging must a statement like that be to a new writer?

Or is it ENcouraging? Maybe such statements enable the new writer to imagine girding himself or herself for battle in preparation to face the “foe” of writing. What a terrible way to look at something so filled with potential joy. Part and parcel of the myths.

Of course, to each his or her own, and certainly different strokes for different folks. But for your sake I hope you aren’t being led by the nose all the while loudly proclaiming that you’re marching to the sound of your own drummer. (How’s that for a string of aphorisms? [grin])

The thing is, the blank page is not your foe. The blank page is an opportunity. It is a surface across which you may record the story that will unfold as you and your characters race through it.

If you face the blank page with fear and trepidation, it will win every time. Even if you eventually write something on it, the writing will be drudgery, hard labor. And in the end the page will not be filled with the joy of a story, it will be spoiled. Why put yourself through all that?

As I wrote in my own comment on the post above, I feel bad for PJ. I’m always excited with the prospect of beginning a new novel. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I’m exhilarated to rip open the paper, fling it away, and see what’s inside.

UPDATE: PJ replied to my comment with “The cloud doesn’t last long, just the first couple chapters. Then it becomes fun again. And I have learned that sometimes I have to write a really bad opening chapter and then just chuck it.”

Separately, I was just telling another writer via email how much I envy her. She was surprised and asked why. I replied, “Because you’re at the beginning of your journey with WITD. The sheer excitement and exhilaration and fun of always looking and moving forward, never back.”

If there’s a downside to WITD, it’s that everything goes so quickly that you barely have time to appreciate the experience. My characters’ stories literally flashed through me. I mean, think about it: 73 novels, 9 novellas, and over 220 short stories in only 6 years of writing time. Plus the nonfiction books and all the blog posts. Even the longest novel I wrote (at around 106,000 words) took only 32 writing days.

I’ve thought many times how wonderful it would be if I could erase my longest series (now at 21 novels) from memory and start over, same main characters, etc. What a wonderful ride it was!

Maybe, maybe I can come up with something similar. I certainly hope so. All it takes is a good character name coupled with a problem in a setting and I’m off.

I literally don’t understand the mindset of writers who allow themselves to be mired in the myths. If you have a story idea, and if it’s something that excites you, how can you NOT just plunge in and let the story wash over you? How can you NOT literally revel in it?

How can you not LOVE it and love the emotions and the sometimes even physical sensations you experience as the story is revealed to you?

How can you be so tentative and even actually frightened of such a wonderful, magical thing as that?

And if I asked any of those writers who are mired in the myths any of those questions, they would say they can’t simply plunge in or revel in the story because they’re “serious” writers who want to put out “quality” stories.

Yet they’re too frightened to put out quality stories. With every revision pass, every rewrite, and every editing pass they get farther and farther and farther from the authentic, original, “quality” story their characters gave them.

More’s the pity.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Fun Comments” at

See “I Can’t Do Two Books Per Year Anymore” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 740

Total fiction words for May……… 14404 (Here’s to a much more productive June)
Total fiction words for 2023………… 97868
Total nonfiction words for May… 27730
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 109420
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 207288

Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 73
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 221
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

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

4 thoughts on “The Myths Are Very Much Alive”

  1. The battle/fighting metaphor is strong, unfortunately. I remember years ago an author I generally enjoyed reading put out a how-to-write book. Thinking that since I enjoyed the fiction, I might enjoy the HTW book, I bought it.

    The title really should’ve been a clue: Mugging the Muse.

    And please don’t get me started on “The War of Art.” I understand resistance – which is, IMO, only another word for self-doubt – but war? Really?

    I suppose it works for some, but not for me.

    • Wow. Mugging the Muse. Really? Incredible. (Still, for anyone who’s interested, Mugging the Muse is by Holly Lisle, who has written over 30 novels.) And of course, Pressfield’s The War of Art was only a play on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

  2. It reminds me of an interview I watched with Hunter S. Thompson. I was interested until Thompson said, “I really hate writing.”
    After that I didn’t care anymore. I’m so tired of hearing writers, whether they are being serious or just trying to ‘trick’ readers, saying they hate writing and its oh so hard.
    No, it isn’t, and if you hate it so much stop doing it. It is that simple. Surely something that is so dreadful, so ‘painful’ to do would be easy to drop and run away from yes?
    Its maddening.

    Of course some in the comments said he was a writer of nonfiction so of course his process is different. I’m currently writing nonfiction right now and plan to for the foreseeable future, and I can tell you I’m having a blast with it. I love it to death, and if writing, whether nonfiction or fiction, was as horrible as Thompson or any other ‘serious’ (whatever that even means) writer say, I would’ve dropped it long ago and found something that was actually fun and entertaining.

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