Working with Serious Writers

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: Working with Serious Writers
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” Stephen King

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” Stephen King

“You go to work. You don’t wait for inspiration to strike. You sit down and write. If you don’t feel like writing, you write anyway. Writers’ block is an affectation.” Elaine Viets on writing fiction

Topic: Working with Serious Writers

A mentorship slot just came open. If you’re serious about learning and applying the craft and you’d like to significantly cut the learning curve, email me or visit You can choose between a full mentorship or an extended Q & A session.

To be honest, if you’re one of those who believe writing is some sort of elevated calling, you probably shouldn’t apply—well, unless you want me to disabuse you of that notion. (grin) I can do that.

But if you want that, chances are you’re a serious writer, or could be. The differences between the starry-eyed writing-is-a-calling folks and the serious writers is obvious.

The starry-eyed are a study in contrasts:

  • They’re enrapt with the idea of being a Writer or an Author to the point that either word practically evokes the sound of an angelic chorus.
  • They talk a lot about writing, but they don’t write often or much. And because of that, most of them never achieve their dreams.
  • They aspire to individual greatness and talk about writing being a lonely endeavor, but in reality they see writing as a team effort that involves critique partners and beta readers.
  • They believe, erroneously, that the longer they hover over a single story or novel and the more attention they give it, the better it will be. Each story or novel is of maximum importance to them, as is the relentless pursuit of perfection.
  • They depend on inspiration and are certain it will strike at any moment, yet most of the time they spend in the chair is spent on social media, games, and other non-writing endeavors. (Often, the “original ideas” of those who actually write and publish are based on actual events.)
  • They dream big, but they depend heavily on faith, luck, and input from conscious, critical minds (both their own and others’).

Serious writers are different:

  • They just want to tell stories. They can’t quite believe they can actually earn money doing something they love to do.
  • THAT they write is all-important. What they write, the individual story or novel, isn’t important at all.
  • They understand that the characters, not they, are living the story, and they trust the characters to convey it.
  • They write their very best at their current skill level. Then they submit or publish that story or novel and move on to the next one.
  • They’re hungry to learn. To that end, they study the writing of those who are farther along the road.
  • They practice incessantly. They show up every day, put their fingers on the keyboard, and write.
  • They dream like anyone else, but they also set and meet or exceed daily goals in pursuit of those dreams.

Which brings me back to the topic. One of my mentoring students, Monica Arac de Nyeko, just finished her mentorship. She was and is the epitome of a serious writer.

In one month, she learned to leave her fears and doubts behind. Mentoring her was an easy job for me. I only had to guide and encourage her a little.

Now she trusts herself and her characters and writes into the dark. This morning in an email she wrote,

“I am on the 14th chapter of my novel now. I increased my word count from 2,500 to 5,000 yesterday seeing as I was doing so well. So far so good. 5,000 does not feel like a stretch.

“Something else that pleasantly surprised me was that since I had written into the dark, as I returned to each chapter, I had no memory of what had actually happened. In that sense then, returning to each chapter was surprising to me and a lot of fun. It is all fresh and exciting.”

I shared the above excerpt with you because it mimics what I’ve heard over and over again from every writer who has successfully put those fears and doubts aside and learned to trust themselves and their characters.

And just to be clear, what Monica and others have achieved is not my accomplishment. I was only blessed to be able to help them along a little on their journey. I prodded them, maybe, but they did the work. Congratulations to Monica, and to all the others who have made the leap from fear to trusting themselves.

Writing fiction is a job unlike most because you can make a living doing what you love to do.

On the other hand, it’s also a job that is exactly like any other in one respect: to do it well, you have to give it the time, attention, and respect it deserves.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “After 45 years, the 5-billion-year legacy of the Voyager 2 interstellar probe is just beginning” at

See “The Workshops in the Fey Kickstarter” at

See “On the Other Side of the Microphone” at Interesting, and some very good “work ethic” stuff at around 20 minutes.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 900 words

Writing of The Jury (novel, tentative title)

Day 1…… 2488 words. Total words to date…… 2488
Day 2…… 0789 words. Total words to date…… 3277

Total fiction words for September……… 3277
Total fiction words for the year………… 69708
Total nonfiction words for September… 6330
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 134560
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 204268

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 67
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: Along with discussing various aspects of the writing craft, I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. WITD is “the only way” to write, but it is by far the easiest, most liberating, and most fun.