The Journal, Saturday, 4/22

Hey Folks,

I spent much of the early morning watching and listening to DWS’ “Lester Dent Master Plot Formula.”

Wow. It was as informative as I hoped (and more so) and chock full of gems. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to get it through the StoryBundle offer I mentioned yesterday.

If you didn’t, and in case you’re interested, here’s the link again: https://storybundle.com/writing.

Again, you get nine books on the craft or business of writing PLUS the DWS lecture as well as a couple of coupons for $$-off on some products that some writers swear by.

***

If you’re thinking of taking Dean up on his “first reader” challenge, take time to read “One Added Note” in “Story Twenty-One” in Of Interest below. His offer just keeps getting better.

Also, his “Point of Interest” in the same post kind of tickled me from a personal stanpoint. You’ll see why.

***

It’s Saturday, so I’m not sure what the day will hold. Our time with Bryan is growing short, so I’m leaving myself (and my priorities) more open to doing things with family on weekends. So we’ll see.

I’m gonna give a little more thought to the challenge I mentioned yesterday before I post it here.

Yesterday also, I happened upon the idea for my next novel. I’ll be returning to the world of Wes Crowley for an 11th novel (my 28th overall).

Topic: What Is Possible

A bit of history. When I wrote my first-ever novel, Leaving Amarillo, I thought it would be a one-off.

But it needed a sequel. So I wrote Longing for Mexico. Then I wrote South to Mexico. I thought that was the last novel in a three-book series.

Then I wrote a novella and another novel in a different world.

But Wes tugged on my sleeve, wanting me to tell more of his story that happened before “Leaving Amarillo.” He also wanted me to talk about what he did in Mexico once he got there.

So I wrote three prequels (so novels 1, 2, and 3 in the eventual series) and then two sequels (so novels 7 and 8) in the series. Again, I thought I was finished.

After that I wrote an SF novel, and then book 9 of the Wes Crowley series. And I thought that was absolutely the end of the Crowley series. No more. End of story.

So I wrote a thriller. Then I wrote a mystery novel, then another SF novel, and then a war novel.

Then I wrote novel 10 of the Crowley series. Again, I was certain it ended the story. Absolutely certain. (grin)

Let’s pause for just a moment to think about that. A 10-novel series plus several short stories in that same world came from what I thought was going to be a one-off novel. Go figure.

Then, with the Crowley stuff finally behind me, I wrote a contemporary western thriller (though it did feature a descendent of Wes Crowley), then another SF novel and then a sweeping SF thriller about a superbug that made its way to Earth.

Then another feel-good, they-came-here SF novel, then a future-earth SF novella, and then the sequel to an earlier SF novel.

After that I wrote one more SF novel that takes place off the planet (and begs for a sequel) before dipping my pen into my two latest novels. Those and my WIP are pulp-detective-fiction-action-adventure-mystery-thrillers (grin).

And when I finish the current WIP, I’m looking forward to writing novel 11 of the Crowley series.

Only I’m no longer gonna try to foretell the future and say this will be the last one. ‘Cause after all, what do I know? (grin)

Oh, and for those of you who are relatively new to this Journal, all of that (and over 100 short stories) were since October 19, 2014. So almost exactly two and a half years.

Anyway, that’s what’s possible when you just follow Heinlein’s Rules. You can get a free, clean copy by clicking http://harveystanbrough.com/heinleins-business-habits-for-writers/. (If

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30. Spent the first few hours writing the stuff above, then playing around. That included email, FB and DWS vids. Then to Dean’s site and the places it led me.

After breakfast, to the Hovel and the novel at 9:30.

I got a good start, then walked down to the house for a break with family at around 10:20.

Around 11 my wife and I took a quick walk out back, then grabbed some lunch. Back to the novel around 12:30.

With around 1500 words, another break at 1:30. Back to the novel at 1:50.

Well, a lot of cycling today, so another slow day on the story. I think this one’s gonna wrap as a novella. I can’t be sure just yet.

I hope it’ll wrap tomorrow or the next day. I guess we’ll see.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Story Twenty-One” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-one/. An interesting read that pulls him back into the realm of us “beginners.”

Dean also links to “Nifty Resource for Covers” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/nifty-resource-for-covers/.

For more information, you can go directly to The Digital Reader at http://the-digital-reader.com/2017/04/21/14-sites-making-spectacular-book-cover/. You can also sign up for their newsletter to receive “the latest news on ebooks and digital publishing.”

I also ran across this: https://designschool.canva.com/how-to-design-book-covers/.

Enjoy!

Fiction Words: 2149
Nonfiction Words: 880 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3029

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161
Day 6…… 1344 words. Total words to date…… 11505
Day 7…… 2513 words. Total words to date…… 14018
Day 8…… 2149 words. Total words to date…… 16167

Total fiction words for the month……… 28076
Total fiction words for the year………… 236632
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12940
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 702800

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 306912

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 514 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 26 (includes 2 novellas)

The Journal, Friday, 4/21

Hey Folks,

Well, in the midst of writing the topic below, I came up with a new challenge for myself. I’ll announce it in the next couple of days.

There’s an exciting new writing bundle out from StoryBundle. I bought it first thing this morning. To check it out, visit https://storybundle.com/writing.

I strongly recommend you drop $15 and buy this bundle. Even if only so you can get DWS’ lecture on Lester Dent’s Master Plot Formula lecture (a $50 value).

For one thing you’ll get a ton of great information on structure. For a second, as I’ve said many times, DWS inadvertently lets slip a LOT of gems in his lectures. Oh, and there are some good books in this bundle too. (grin)

Speaking of gems, I happened across these “20 Writing Tips from Fiction Authors” at
http://www.iuniverse.com/Resources/Writing-Editing/20WritingTipsfrom12FictionAuthors.aspx.

My recommendation (as always) is that you take to heart what feels right to you and ignore the rest.

Topic: Shut Up, Conscious Mind!

I’m writing this stuff in the spirit of honesty and up-frontnicity, right? So I have to tell you, for a little while today I thought this story, my WIP, was grinding to a halt.

And even with all my practice, I didn’t recognize the problem for awhile.

The other day I thought I knew how the rest of the story was going to go. So that made it boring to me. I almost shelved it then.

And then for the past couple of days, it’s been like pulling teeth. I mean think about it. I went to the store rather than write. I mowed part of the yard rather than write.

But then a little while ago, a friend sent me half a boatload of Ko-Fi through my new account. (Thanks!)

That caused me to get on my hotspot (I’m in the Hovel) so I could thank him.

While I was there (natch) I checked email and then Facebook. Occasionally on FB I mention how the writing’s going. (That’s pretty much the sum total of “marketing” that I do.)

And while I was on FB, I saw a couple places where I noted how much fun it is to just tell a story.

And that’s when it hit me. With this novel, at least over the past few days, I wasn’t just telling a story. I wasn’t playing. I wasn’t having fun.

Instead, I was worrying about length. I was fretting over details in the setting. I was mentally haranguing myself (yes, haranguing!) about characters and situations and pretty much everything else.

The one thing I wasn’t doing was writing.

See, this thing I’m writing, this story, is supposed to be noir, detective, pulp-type stuff.

By the way, “pulp” is not synonymous with “bad.” If anything, it’s synonymous with “entertaining.”

So this is supposed to be a thrill ride. It’s supposed to be fun. More to the point, pulp is a work that’s strongly dependent on a single POV (detective or PI, perp, or victim).

In pulp story writing, the writer controls the pacing, whether slow or fast. (The slower parts make the faster parts seem even more intense.) That’s what makes it fun to write and that’s what makes it entertaining.

You absolutely can not “think” (conscious mind) your way through a pulp story. As we used to say in the Marine Corps, the gunny’s job (now the writer’s job) is to lay his ears back and attack in all directions. (grin)

So now that I checked in with myself, laid my craven soul bare and slapped my conscious mind around a bit, back to the novel. Or novella. Whatever it’s gonna be.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3. Coffee and foolishness for the first couple hours.

Over the next couple of hours, I checked Dean’s site and wrote a lot of this stuff. I also listened to the first few sessions of DWS’ lecture on LD’s Master Plot Formula, and then researched some stuff online that he mentioned. Some of those gems I talk about on here.

Then I remembered I have a novel or something to write and finish. (grin) It would be entirely too easy for me to take a day off and just read and learn. But I’ll make time for that after this WIP is finished.

7:10, to the Hovel. I opened the novel, looked at it for a moment and drew a blank. Usually that’s a sign that I took a wrong direction a short way back. I played a few games of spider solitaire.

Then around 8 I took a short walk to clear the cobwebs. Weird day. But it’s okay. I feel like this thing’s on the verge of breaking loose.

9:20 back to the Hovel and the novel.

11:40. Wow. I’ve done hardly anything on the novel. Then I realized I was trying to do too much. I was “thinking.” Ugh.

I stopped and wrote the topic above. Then I wrote about the challenge I’m considering. I’ll post that tomorrow or the next day.

12:30. Now that I got my head clear on what I’m supposed to be doing, back to it.

Calling it a day a little early today but a good day, considering.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

As you might expect, some very enlightening comments on Dean’s “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Five” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-five/.

He also has “Story Twenty” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty/. And in case you’re one who skims, not a bad idea to read that whole post, at least through “STORY CHALLENGE… Get Me to Read 30 Short Stories.” Some gems there.

Finally, he also talks about a “Major New Writing Bundle” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/major-new-writing-bundle/. This one was curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and she also explains what’s in the bundle. You even get a WMG lecture.

As I mentioned above, I’ve already bought this one. Just in case you want it to, the purchase link is https://storybundle.com/writing.

Fiction Words: 2513
Nonfiction Words: 960 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3473

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161
Day 6…… 1344 words. Total words to date…… 11505
Day 7…… 2513 words. Total words to date…… 14018

Total fiction words for the month……… 25927
Total fiction words for the year………… 234483
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12060
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 69400

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 303883

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 513 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Thursday, 4/20

Hey Folks,

Well, kind of a dismal showing today, but a showing none the less. (grin)

Listen, if any of these posts key your Share mode, please feel free to comment on your own “process” or techniques or day, etc. You never know what another reader might find of interest or even a gem.

Epiphanies are everywhere, and they depend on the reader’s perception, not the writer’s intention.

***

Interesting morning. After I wrote the topic (below) I was on my way to the Hovel to write.

Then I remembered there were things we need at the store. So I hooked a U-turn, went back to the house, added some stuff to the list. Then I went to the store.

Got back, put stuff away, and decided to finish mowing a few places on the yard. So I did that.

Then I was hungry, so I got breakfast.

Then, finally, I headed for the Hovel. I grinned all the way knowing now I’d get to play.

***

All things considered, I seem to be relaxing my way through this novel. It’s wonderful to feel that confident and comfortable, but already (less than 12,000 words in) I’ll be glad when this one’s finished so I can write the next one. Oh oh. (grin)

I think I’m tired of the world this one is set in. I already have the next one in the series started, too. But I think I’ll take a break from this world on the next one and write in a different genre, different world.

Topic: On Word Counts and Averages and Productivity

Scott Gordon lit my fuse on this topic in a comment on the 4/19/2017 edition of the Journal, so blame him. (grin)

Scott mentioned that he feels he needs a daily word count goal in order to attain his larger, longer-term goals.

Nothing wrong with that at all. As most of you know, I’ve done the same thing. In fact, I did it for most of the past three years.

Only recently did I discard the daily word count goal as a tool in my own arsenal. That action had two effects: the number of days I actually wrote decreased. But the average number of words on the days that I did write INcreased. Go figure.

But the daily word count goal can be useful.

If you want to write a particular number of words in a week or month or year, breaking that overall number into smaller segments (a daily goal) helps a great deal.

For me, the daily word count goal served its purpose. It provided a necessary catalyst to get me to where I am now as a writer. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s Heirarchy, I’ve attained self-actualization as a writer.

That doesn’t mean I’ve mastered the craft or anything like that. It means the act of writing, in and of itself, is of the utmost importance.

Even publishing what I write is second to that in importance. Everything else (promotions, reviews, sales, etc.) is third. A very distant third.

Just as an example, one of my own “big” goals used to be to hit 1,000,000 words of published fiction in a year.

But one day I realized (for me) that’s only a number. I routinely hit around 800,000 words of fiction per year anyway. Shrug. So for me, that goal lost its importance.

Still, I reiterate, using a daily word count goal is a great idea if it’s something you want or need to do to help you attain your writing goals.

But bear in mind, in this game the Average is what matters.

There are life rolls, emergencies, family time and other reasons for non-writing or little-writing days. And that’s fine. You’re human.

Most people think I’m prolific. Well, I’m not. Not when compared with the old pulp writers, many of whom far exceeded 1,000,000 words of published fiction per year. On manual, non-electric typewriters.

But I do pay attention to two particular averages.

One is the average number of words per calendar day. That’s to keep me humble.

The other is the average number of words per WRITING day. That’s to keep my spirits up. (grin)

So how’s that workin’ out for you, Harv? Well, let’s take a look.

Through yesterday, April 19 2017, I’ve written 230,626 words of publishable fiction.

Sounds like a lot, huh?

But if I didn’t write another word of fiction this year beginning today, my mean average for the year on December 31 would be only 631 words per day. (So about a half-hour of work per day.)

But let’s focus back down to reality.

Thus far (through April 19) there have been 109 days this year. Over that 109 calendar days, my average is only 2115 words per day. Given that my typical daily word count goal was 3,000 words per day, that isn’t good. (See? Humility is a good thing.)

However, among those 109 days I’ve had 37 nonwriting days. (Over a month of nonwriting days!)

So over the remaining 72 days (the actual writing days), my average is 3203 words per day.

(To put that in perspective, had I written 3203 words per day all 109 days thus far this year, my publishable fiction word count would be up to 349,127 words. Sigh.)

Now, having figured all of this out for this topic, what’s the take-away?

Well, that’s up to you.

For me personally, I’m determined to have more writing days and fewer nonwriting days.

See, for me the secret is no longer a daily word count goal. I know if I write I’ll average around 3,000 words per day.

Oh, and I also hate seeing “XXXX” in the “Fiction Words” section below. (grin)

So now I’m gonna go write.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3 and spent the first three hours or so writing this stuff and doing little else.

Around 7, I was on my way to write and a bunch of other stuff happened.

At 10, finally to the Hovel and the novel. Around 10:50, a break.

11:10, back to the novel.

Took a break around noon, almost an hour. (At that point, as it turns out, my day was pretty much over.) I posted some pics to FB, etc. and back to the novel around 1.

I wrote a little, then decided to take a walk in the desert out back with my grandson and my camera.

A really short day on the novel today. But somehow that’s okay.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Five” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-five/. Great stuff.

Then “Story Nineteen and Some Updates on Challenge” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-nineteen-and-some-updates-on-challenge/. Really wish I had the $600 for this, or that there were two online workshops I still wanted to take. (grin)

Also some good comments on Dean’s original post about the short story challenge: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/i-opened-my-mouth-so-here-is-how-it-could-work/.

And finally (at Dean’s), “Quick Update to Short Story Challenge” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/quick-update-to-short-story-challenge/.

Also via The Passive Voice, see “How a self-published author inspired by Stephen King knocked his idol from the top spot on Amazon” at http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/18/self-published-author-inspired-by-stephen-king-beats-idol-on-amazon.html.

Fiction Words: 1344
Nonfiction Words: 1130 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2474

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161
Day 6…… 1344 words. Total words to date…… 11505

Total fiction words for the month……… 23414
Total fiction words for the year………… 231970
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11100
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 68440

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 300410

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 512 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Wednesday, 4/19

Hey Folks,

Laundry day and a novel to write. Except for the “laundry day” part, could anything get better than that? (grin)

I’m gonna try to work on the novel up at the house today (since it’s laundry day). We’ll see how that works out.

Same old routine for the first few hours this morning. Not sure where it all went except for chatting on FB for a little while with my new friend Scott Gordon.

As you know, I love meeting new writing friends who are serious about learning and practicing the craft. I only wish we could all live close enough together to meet and talk writing once a month or so. Sigh.

As some of you know, I’m from the school of “If I’ve Done It Before, I Can Do It Again.” Well, you know, within limitations. For example, I’ve completed a 3-mile run in under 18 minutes. That’s never gonna happen again.

But the overall principle is valid, and it comes in handy when I’m retraining myself.

This morning, during one two-hour period, I alternately tended to laundry and wrote about 1000 words. Significantly, the writing was all on my business computer, at my outside desk and then at my office desk.

That isn’t a lot of words, but at least I’m showing my subconscious we can write on this computer and away from my usual writing space.

That’s important as I retrain myself to write in the early morning before I move out to the Hovel.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out way late at 4, but I guess I needed to sleep-in a bit.

Involved myself in the routine I mentioned above until around 7:30. That and started doing laundry.

7:30, to the novel at my desk in my office, then outside, then back inside.

9:20, a break to finish tending to laundry and some other small chores.

Finally to the Hovel around 10:30.

I wrote off and on most of the day while tending to a lot of little things around the house.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Some great comments on Dean’s “Story Seventeen” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-seventeen/.

More good stuff in his “Story Eighteen and Half-Title Pages Explained” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-eighteen-and-half-title-pages-explained/.

And finally, if you’d like DWS to be your first reader, see “I Opened My Mouth… So Here Is How It Could Work” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/i-opened-my-mouth-so-here-is-how-it-could-work/. Given all the gems he lets slip at times, this might be a really great deal.

His deal boils down to $10 per story if you finish 30 stories in 60 days. Not too shabby at all.

And his first reader service is FREE if you finish 30 stories in 30 days.

Seriously, if you write short stories and you can handle it, give this some thought.

Fiction Words: 2579
Nonfiction Words: 460 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3039

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161

Total fiction words for the month……… 22070
Total fiction words for the year………… 230626
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9970
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 67310

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 297936

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 512 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Tuesday, 4/18

Hey Folks,

Well, yesterday I reported finishing a short story titled “Beats All.”

Yesterday early evening I read it aloud to my wife. At the end, I frowned. “This sounds like the beginning of a novel, doesn’t it?”

(I’ve long known and preached the value of reading aloud. Yet I’m still amazed at how valuable it really is.)

She said, “Yes. It ended, but it isn’t finished.”

Okay. Ugh. Now I have two novels going concurrently. And they’re in the same world and feature some of the same characters.

The Platinum Blond Perturbance will be the third Detective Galecki novel and it’s told from his POV.

Beats All features Galecki and another detective, but it’s told from the POV of a minor criminal.

Before you ask whether I can combine these, this is not a mix-and-match situation. Each of these recent novels have been first-person single-POV efforts, something I’m practicing.

I only jumped ahead to “finish” Beats All yesterday because I was certain it was going to be a short story.

I’ve already removed it from the lineup below (I clean up the Notepad version of this Journal as my last act of business each day) so I won’t add it back until I start writing it again.

I still think it works as a short story. Sometime today I’ll put together a cover for it and get it out to donors.

Then it’s back to The Platinum Blond Perturbance.

Topic: The Differences Between Amateurs and Professionals

Really, this isn’t a topic so much as a tease. To read the whole post (it isn’t mine), please visit https://medium.com/the-mission/the-7-differences-between-professionals-and-amateurs-f8efc4840861.

Here are the highlights:

1. Amateurs wait for clarity. Pros take action.

2. Amateurs want to arrive. Pros want to get better.

3. Amateurs practice as much as they have to. Pros never stop.

4. Amateurs leap for their dreams. Pros build a bridge.

5. Amateurs fear failure. Pros crave it.

6. Amateurs build a skill. Pros build a portfolio.

7. Amateurs want to be noticed. Pros want to be remembered.

A lot of gems to be mined in Jeff Goins’ article. I hope you’ll visit.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little after 2. Routine stuff for the first hour or so, then wrote much of what’s above this.

At 4 I decided to get the admin stuff out of the way. I created a cover for “Beats All You Ever Saw,” then formatted and uploaded it to D2D and Amazon.

Finally I posted it to the Free Story page on my website, then emailed the .mobi copy to my donors. All of that took about an hour and a half.

Around 6:30 I signed up for a free Ko-Fi account. It’s yet one more place where visitors to the site can make a donation or “Buy Me A Coffee” if they want. For an example, see my page at https://ko-fi.com/A37113T2.

Finally around 9 I started cycling through the novel, getting it back into my head. I’m not worrying about word count today. I just want to get back into it and see where it goes from there.

Well, I’ll call this a good day, despite writing just over 2000 new words on the day. I guess I’m easing back into this one, but I’m still having a blast.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

From yesterday, via The Passive Voice, “The 7 Differences Between Professionals and Amateurs” at https://medium.com/the-mission/the-7-differences-between-professionals-and-amateurs-f8efc4840861.

Want to give folks a chance to buy you a coffee? Get your free Ko-Fi account at https://ko-fi.com/. (Thanks to Scott Gordon. See his site at http://segordon.blogspot.com.)

At Dean’s, “Story Seventeen” http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-seventeen/.

Fiction Words: 2201
Nonfiction Words: 610 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2811

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582

Total fiction words for the month……… 19491
Total fiction words for the year………… 228047
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9510
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 66850

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 294897

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 511 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Hi Folks,

For well over a year (as I write this, May 2015), I’ve been practicing pushing down my conscious, critical mind and the fear it brings to the table. Yet this morning as I was going through my morning wake-up ritual, fear flooded over me.

This morning it’s back to the writing.

I have at least one more prequel to write (it will be book 3 in the Wes Crowley series) and I’ve already started the first sequel (The Marshal of Agua Perlado).

I also have to write the short story of the week sometime in the next few days or break the streak I’ve had going since April 15 of last year.

So no lack of writing opportunities. No lack of ideas.

But I was overwhelmed. What I’m I gonna write first?

Well, I can’t write all of them at once, so I have to pick one.

I can hammer out a good short story in only a few hours. But I want to get the siphon going on a novel again, so I need to write one of those.

And that’s when the fear hit, in the form of feeling overwhelmed.

Despite the fact that my next novel will be my sixth, and despite the fact that all of those have come since October 25, 2014, a sense of feeling overwhelmed washed over me.

What am I thinking? I can’t write a novel! It’s too much! It’s too big! It’s too many words!

Know what? That’s true. I can’t write a novel.

But I can write a sentence.

I can write a great line of dialogue or descriptive narrative to pull my reader into the story. I can write another sentence, and another. I can write a scene.

There’s an old saying: How do you eat an elephant? The answer? One bite at a time.

I can’t write a novel, but I can write a scene.

I can’t write 40,000 or 50,000 or 60,000 words, but I can write 1,000 words per hour. I can write three or four hours per day.

And I can tell a story.

Some stories are short and are accomplished in only a few thousand words. And some stories keep going until you look up 30 days later and you’ve written a story of several tens of thousands of words. That story would be a novel.

And I know it can happen because it already has.

In the overall story of Wes Crowley and friends, in five novels, I’ve written 225,252 published words of fiction.

How? By not allowing myself to feel overwhelmed. By pushing down my conscious, critical mind and the overwhelming feeling that I can’t possibly write a novel. I just recognize and admit that I can’t.

And then?

I write the next sentence. Then I write the next sentence. Then I write the next sentence.

Happy writing,
Harvey

The Journal, Monday, 4/17

Hey Folks,

All right. Fourteen days left in the month, inclusive. If I’m gonna meet my monthly goal of writing at least one novel per month and my annual goal of writing at least 15 on the year, I have to get hot. (grin)

By the way, that “get hot” thing isn’t pressure. For me, it’s a realizaton and good news.

And writing a short story or two along the way wouldn’t kill me either. (Donors, they’re coming.) Man, I just wanna play.

* * *

I’ve been screwing around each morning for awhile now, just kind of hanging around the house, not going to “work” in the Hovel until daylight (around 6:30).

I kind’a have to do that because I let the other babies out at 5. Afterward, they want to go outside, and I don’t allow them out while it’s still dark without me being at my outside desk near the house.

This morning I thought about heading out early. But instead, I think I’ll try writing fiction on my business computer. Then when I’m ready to go to the Hovel (after sunrise) I’ll put what I’ve done on a flash drive and carry it out there.

Probaby I’ll start that tomorrow morning. As I write this, I’ve already been up for three hours and the sky is growing light.

Either way, I’m hoping this will be a great day of writing.

At this point I don’t even really care what I write. I only care THAT I write. Being away from it for even a few days is driving me nuts. And yeah, that’s a pretty short drive for me.

Topic: A Bit More on Goals, and Elephants

On Dean’s post from yesterday (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-fifteen-halfway-through-the-challenge/), another commenter (Mike Lawrence) asked DWS whether he was writing his current short stories “in public.” In other words, is there someplace he can go to view them now.

He isn’t. He’s writing them to compile a “month of April” story collection as well as to fill the pages of Smith’s Monthly, his magazine.

I responded to the comment as well with a lesson I learned back when I was writing a short story every week. My streak reached 70 weeks before I broke it, pretty much intentionally.

With the advantage of hindsight, though, I’ve come to understand that I broke my own streak (again, intentionally) because of pressure I put on myself.

Because I was posting those stories “live” in the same week I wrote them, eventually the pressure of having to post one every week ate my goal and the streak.

In other words, posting a new story every week became more important to me than just writing the story in the first place.

So it wasn’t fun anymore. The pressure of “having” to post a story each week sucked all the fun out of writing them. And that is what killed the streak.

As I wrote in my comment

I tried later to “restart” another one-a-week story [streak], but it never got off the ground because I couldn’t shake the elephant out of my head. I was writing [the stories] one at a time, but I could never shake the sense that I had to do that for at least 71 weeks to surpass what I’d already done.

So again, no fun. All pressure. And what I hoped would be a new streak never got off the ground.

So consider this topic a cautionary tip.

The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. If you look up and realize you’re trying to eat the whole elephant, eating it suddenly becomes an impossibiliity.

Setting an overall (large) goal that you can attain if you reach is a great practice.

But it’s important that you break that overall goal into smaller goals that are still attainable within tighter timelines.

Meeting those smaller goals creates the streak (an accomplishment), which in turn feeds your self-esteem and the larger, overall goal.

But don’t pressure yourself with something silly like I did.

Or look at it like this:

Letting someone into your story (short or long) will often kill the story.

For that reason, I never let anyone into my work before it’s finished.

But by posting a story a week “live,” I was allowing those who subscribed to my Free Story of the Week into my streak without realizing it. And so it died.

As I also mentioned in my comment on DWS’ site, I probably will attempt to write one short story per day for a month some time.

But when I do, I’ll publish them individually and in collections (six 5-story, three 10-story, and one 30- or 31-story). I probably will “leak” some of them to my donors, but I definitely won’t write them “in public.”

I won’t risk it.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2 again, but I sacked out a little early last night. It’s all good.

I read newsletters, wrote the stuff above and in “Of Interest,” and played on FB to start the day.

Well, a little under 3000 words on the day, but it was still a great day. I finished a short story and wrote some extremely terse scenes. Total score!

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Story Sixteen and Still Going” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-sixteen-and-still-going/.

If you’re interested in the Strengths Workshops, they’re all up and he’s offering a special deal: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/strengths-workshops-available/.

If you enjoy great Cajun humor, check out https://www.facebook.com/LelandAndBo/videos/239439739744449/.

Fiction Words: 2977
Nonfiction Words: 890 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3867

Writing of “Beats All” (short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… 2977 words. Total words to date…… 4720 (done)

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 17290
Total fiction words for the year………… 225846
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8900
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 66240

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 292086

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 510 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Sunday, 4/16

Hey Folks,

A few days ago I mentioned here that all the coyotes and other predators seem to have left the area.

A day after I wrote that, the owls were back and I had a scare. This morning, the coyotes are back.

Well now, isn’t that the way it always works? (grin)

From around 4 a.m. I was serenaded for almost an hour straight by song dogs. No owls as yet, but I’m sure they’re lurking out there somewhere.

But it’s Easter, a day that always reminds me of the incredible gifts I receive pretty much every hour of every day. I only need to be aware of them.

For example, unlike human predators, the 4-legs and feathered in the rest of nature always seem to give warning when they’re in the vicinity. That’s a gift.

And those warnings get my blood pumping with regard to keeping my little girl safe. Another gift.

Whatever significance Easter holds for you, I hope today was a good day in your world.

* * *

The plan for today was to write and read. We’ll see how that turns out. It’s Sunday and it’s Easter, so probably a family day.

Guess maybe I’ll get some reading done later today or tonight. No writing. Been kind of keeping myself available in case anyone wants to do anything.

I’m gonna post this, then go back to taking more pictures or something.

I guarantee you, barring a plane landing on my house tonight, I’ll be back to full speed tomorrow.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out around 2:20, a little earlier than my preferred norm. (The baby slept-in until 4.)

Mona and I went to the store early (around 8), then home to put things away. Then the day just kind of unfolded. Very lazily. Took a lot of pics, put them on FB, but did very little else.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Via The Passive Voice “Six novelists reveal how to self-publish successfully” at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-4401186/Independent-novelists-self-publish-successfully.html.

At Dean’s today, “Story Fifteen… Halfway Through the Challenge” http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-fifteen-halfway-through-the-challenge/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 330 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 330

Writing of “Beats All” (probably a short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 14313
Total fiction words for the year………… 222869
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8010
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 65350

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 288219

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 509 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Saturday, 4/15

Hey Folks,

Well, it’s Saturday. A short post today.

As it stands, I’ve watered the yard, and I’m planning to take a drive and a hike to see some petroglyphs with my wife and Bryan.

In the afternoon, I’ll either return to one of my WIPs or read. No pressure, no worries.

I’m not stuck on either story. Just relaxing my way through the past couple of days, making other things and people priorities. Kind of a minor life roll. So it’s all good.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3, but after a good night’s sleep this time.

Around 10, went to hike to the petroglyphs near Millville (ghost town) AZ, west of Tombstone. Got some good pics. Had a good hike.

Back here around noon to make burgers for lunch, then posted some pics on FB. Helped my wife rearrange some things in the house, then went outside and sat with a good cigar, took some more pics, plastered them all over FB.

Around 2:15, inside, checked email, found a partial copyedit waiting. So now I’m gonna post this, then do that. Afterward, I’ll read and/or blow off the rest of the day.

Tomorrow morning, back to writing. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

At Dean’s, “Story Fourteen and Other Stuff” http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-fourteen-and-other-stuff/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 210 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 210

Writing of “Beats All” (probably a short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 14313
Total fiction words for the year………… 222869
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7680
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 65020

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 287889

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 508 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Friday, 4/14

Hey Folks,

Wow. Almost half the month gone already. Amazing what even one missed day of writing does to the productivity. And I might have another nonwriting day today.

Bryan and I are headed for Sierra Vista this morning. Mostly to pick up a few essentials for him for his trek into a new life at Job Corps. That could happen as early as a couple of weeks from now.

And plus, I just want to get out of St. David for awhile. (grin)

Probably we’ll dawdle and take much, if not all, of the morning. Then after we’re back and settled, maybe I’ll visit Hal (the writing ‘puter) for awhile out in the Hovel.

Nope. Around noon I decided to build my BundleRabbit inventory instead.

If you’re one of the folks who recently subscribed, please don’t be dissuaded by this couple of days with no writing and no topics or writing tips. I’ll be back to full power soon. (grin)

Today, and Writing

Rolled out right at 3 even though I went to bed a bit late for me. Hey, them’s the breaks.

To Sierra Vista around 7:30.

Stopped to show Bryan some petroglyphs near Charleston/Millville (AZ), then to Walmart for a bunch’a stuff, then Sonic to slam down a couple’a burgers, then back here.

Got back at around 11:30, played with posting pics on FB for a little while. Found one that looks like the right profile of an ancestor of Captain Jean Luc Picard. (grin) That’s him up there on the left.

12:30, I’m gonna spend the balance of the day uploading short stories to BundleRabbit. It’s insane to have all this inventory and not be pushing it out the door in yet one more direction.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Via The Passive Voice, “Mystery, Thriller, or Suspense: Does the Label Matter?” For the full article, see http://diymfa.com/reading/mystery-thriller-suspense-label-matter.

At Dean’s, “Story Number Thirteen and an Answer” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-number-thirteen-and-an-answer/. There are some gems in this one.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 290 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 290

Writing of “Beats All” (probably a short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 14313
Total fiction words for the year………… 222869
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7470
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 64810

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 287679

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 507 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels