Updates, and How-to for Goals

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* How to Achieve Your Goals
* Updates
* The Writing
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.” William Hazlitt

How to Achieve Goals

The other day, I set what might appear to some of you to be pretty lofty goals. But I did not set them lightly. I didn’t set any goals I can’t reach.

But if I focus on the annual goals themselves, (19 novels, at least two new nonfiction craft titles, etc.) there’s no way I will reach any of them.

It’s impossible to write 19 novels in a year. Duh. Everybody knows that.

In fact, it’s impossible to write even ONE novel. And again, everybody knows it. I’ve seen numbers of would-be novelists research, outline, etc. etc. etc. only to never actually write the novel. (Well, those writers have already written the story in the outline, so they’re bored with it. So why bother?)

I’ve also seen numbers of writers who set out to write a novel into the dark, then falter. Usually when the new wears off. You just have to keep going, keep writing the next sentence, and let the characters lead you through to the end.

Thing is, it really IS impossible to write a novel. Nobody can do that.

But nobody believes it’s impossible to write a sentence. So when you set out to achieve your goal, just write a sentence.

Then write the next sentence, and the next and the next. Soon you will have a paragraph.

Then write another sentence and another paragraph. If you’re writing into the dark, you’ll fly through sentences and paragraphs without even thinking about it anyway. And soon you’ll have a chapter.

And how do you begin the next chapter? With a sentence. Then another sentence and another. And soon you will have finished your story or novel.

Then start the next one. Oh, you can take a day off or a week off or whatever, but why would you do that? If writing is fun for you—if you’ve gotten past the bullshot that writing is hard work or even “travail” (for goodness sake!)—sit down and write the opening sentence, the hook. Then write the next sentence. Keep following what you did above to write that first novel. And the second one. And the third one.

And NO, this does not only work for me because I have 82 novels in the can and #83 in progress on my laptop. I wrote my very first novel (and the second and the third and the next 78) exactly how I’m telling you to write them now.

My craft has improved a great deal, of course. So the pacing, description, etc. is better in my later novels than in my first. But that’s because I kept learning and kept putting new words on the page. That’s the fast-track to becoming a better storyteller.

Don’t even think of the next novel as a novel. Just think of it as a sentence, then another sentence, then another. Whatever the characters give you. You aren’t even really “making up” a story. You’re only transcribing it, putting it through your fingers and your keyboard onto the screen.

And before you know it, the characters will have led you through to the end. The sentences, chapters and paragraphs will be behind you, which is good. Mourn a little, then write the next sentence. That first novel wrapped so you would have time and room to write the next one.

So write the next sentence and the next and the next to begin your next novel.

And of course you will do that, won’t you? In fact, you wouldn’t think of NOT doing it. Because you’re a writer. And that’s what writers do.

Okay, so then what’s the purpose of a daily word count goal?

To give you a mark to shoot for. To give you a guide you can glance at, something you can use to tell you that maybe you need to come back to the writing one more time after your break.

If I even get close (on average) to maintaining my daily word count goal through 2024, there’s no way I CAN’T reach my fiction writing goals. And if you get close to maintaining yours, you will reach your goals too.

Always do your best to reach the word count goal you have set. But even then, remember that the word count goal is also not important. You can even adjust it higher or lower as necessary.

The average is what matters. And the only thing that’s truly important is that you write.

Even if you get off to a rocky start (as I have this year) keep coming back. The road will smooth out before you know it.


On New Year’s Day I filed the Journal at about 2 a.m. Then, over the next five hours…

  • I saved The Journal, 2023 as a PDF file and added it to the Free Archives page on the website,
  • I thoroughly updated the Free Archives page, and
  • I created a new page titled Of Value to Writers.

Why a new page?

Everything on the archives page is free.

The new Of Value to Writers page holds paid offerings:

  • There are now only seven audio-lecture courses. I repriced them to better reflect their actual value and added them to that page.
  • I also discontinued four of the audio-lecture courses completely and added them (with notes on alternatives) below the new first seven.

If you missed the free giveaway, sorry about that. I offered them several times from a week before Christmas through New Year’s Eve, and then again yesterday. I applaud those of you who took advantage of the offer.

If you chose not to take advantage of the offer, please don’t ask now and put me in the awkward position of having to tell you no.

That new page also lists the few remaining video DVDs we have on various topcs. They were filmed during my live seminars back in the day. A much younger version of me is teaching those courses. (grin) Kudos on those of you who got in early and purchased full sets of the videos too.

The Writing

For various reasons, I wrote very little yesterday. Still, I added a lot more words to the novel than I would have if I’d simply not sat down at the keyboard. And as always, today is a new day. I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen next, both in and out of the novel. (grin)

Of Interest

‘How to murder your husband’ writer sentenced for murdering husband “Stupid is as stupid does.” Forrest Gump

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1120

Writing of Blackwell Ops 17: Julia Saenz

Day 1…… 4204 words. To date…… 4204
Day 2…… 4284 words. To date…… 8488
Day 3…… 3355 words. To date…… 11843
Day 4…… 1623 words. To date…… 13466
Day 5…… 1284 words. To date…… 14750

Fiction for January……………………. 2907
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 2907
Fiction since October 1…………… 305964
Nonfiction for January……………… 3330
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 3330
2024 consumable words…………… 6237

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 0
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 82
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 238
Short story collections…………………… 31

Note: If you find this Journal of value and want to make a one time or recurring donation, please do not pledge through Substack. I don’t use Stripe. Instead click this link. If you can’t donate, please consider sharing this post with friends.

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.