A Pair of Curiosities

Hi Folks,

I was just looking at my site stats. Shouldn’t do that, I know, but I did. Ugh. Seeing those stats prompted me to write this interim post concerning a pair of curiosities.

Curiosity Number One

Of 500+ subscribers to this blog, I typically get around 80 views. Oddly, that’s on the in-between posts, like this one. The “big” posts in the Microsoft Word for Writers series that I’m doing right now generally get around 20 views. To me, that’s an interesting curiosity.

Now, I’m not overly worried about this. I mean, it isn’t what I would call a “problem” in the overall scheme. It doesn’t rank up there with a wrenched sciatic nerve or a bad ticker or COPD or whatever. But it’s an interesting curiosity.

There are only a couple of posts left in the Word for Writers series, so I’ll let them run out. Those posts are “The Paragraph Formatting Tool” and “A Few Notes About Styles.” After those are gone I’ll get back into the more… umm, shall we say “creative”?… blog posts that folks seem to prefer. And good for you, because those are the ones I prefer writing too.

Ahem… about those final two Word for Writers posts, frankly, if you miss the one on Styles, you aren’t missing much. That isn’t really anything for a writer to be concerned with anyway.

But if you’re still using the Tab key (or the spacebar key repeatedly) to indent the first line of each paragraph, you really do need the post on The Paragraph Formatting Tool. Seriously.

My intention is for these posts to be helpful. I don’t get anything out of them other than the satisfaction of saving others what for me was a very long learning curve. So take advantage already. Learn. Enjoy.

Curiosity Number Two

Would anyone out there like to know how to be more productive with your writing? How to turn out more work?

The old pulp writers wrote highly entertaining novels, serials and short stories. They were paid by the word. So the more publishable words of fiction they produced, the higher their paycheck.

Does that mean they churned out sloppy writing? NO.

It means they wrote the best story they could possibly write the first time through. And that was on typewriters.

Everything was fine until English teachers and other non-writing professionals started teaching people, wrongly, that “fast writing is bad writing.” They even taught would-be writers not to practice.

Now, don’t get all defensive and start yelling at me. It won’t change the facts anyway. And the thing is, I’m neither angry nor upset with English teachers. I used to be one myself. They’re just passing along the same bogus information they learned.

But think about that. Writing is the only art form in which the artists are actively taught that practice is bad. In every other field of artistic endeavor, the artists are taught to practice their craft repeatedly. The painter doesn’t paint one picture and then repaint it and repaint it and repaint it. The sculptor doesn’t keep chiseling once the work is finished. You do your best at the time and then you move on to the next creation.

But that isn’t the case with writers. Writers are taught to write and then hover. Once you’ve written, you “must” rewrite several times, run what you’ve written past some committee, then rewrite again, then have your work edited.

All of that is so the original work you started with will look more like someone’s perception of an “ideal.”

The problem is, that “ideal,” if it’s a product of a professional writer, probably was written, spell-checked, proofed and published. Period.

Now, if you’re satisfied with simply talking about being a writer and laboring for years on a single work and telling others what a terrible drudgery writing is, that’s fine. Hang in there.

But if you would like to learn to trust your own original voice as a writer, and if you would like to learn a great deal more about actually BEING a professional writer, comment on this blog post or email me and let me know that.

I have another website where I post blogs regularly on the day by day adventure of being a professional writer. It’s a closed site right now (open only to a few like-minded professional writers) but I’m thinking of opening it up so ALL writers who are interested can see what it takes to be a professional writer AND the freedom that entails.

Again, if you’re interested in either reading the posts from that website or if you’re a professional writer who would like to possibly contribute, either drop a comment on this post or email me privately at harveystanbrough@gmail.com.

There y’go. See you in a few days with “The Paragraph Formatting Tool.”

‘Til then, happy writing.


14 thoughts on “A Pair of Curiosities”

  1. Okay, there are actually three posts remaining in the Word for Writers series. Between those listed above there is also “Odds & Ends.”

  2. Lately, I’ve been writing reviews to my urgent care health network. They aren’t to urgent about responding. When I finish coughing, I’ll get back to something more fun.

  3. as one of the 80…..i read, but do not produce. haven’t written in years. but i read you from time to time as the only ‘kick in the pants’ i give to my guilty self. blah, blah, blah, broken back, eviction, ending relationship, blah, etc. the good news for me is that something has awakened my slack jawed response to my recent life….. and i want to write again. that’s why i clicked today. curiosity. same old novel…. now 15 years later. im giving myself the summer, in a small room, to finish. i’ll be checking back in to your very helpful blogs and tips….. because you are extraordinary. (and don’t edit my comma’s and dots. i’m not hovering. just sayin’)

    • I never edit anything that I’m not asked to edit or that isn’t for publication. (grin) Or anything at all, really, anymore. You might like the presentation I’m doing in Green Valley Library at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 4. It’s called “From Idea to Story” and it’s gonna be a good’n. Come if you can.

    • Well, thanks, Miss Kat. Always good to hear from you. I’ll be putting a couple more Audio Lectures up on the site soon, with “soon” meaning over the next month or so. The writing has to come first. 🙂

  4. Harvey-
    You make my mind boggle, as in “mind boggling.” I frankly can’t keep up with you, as much as I’d like to.
    Without your “Writing into the dark” intensive of several months ago (maybe longer but my mind can’t seem to function beyond days, let alone weeks or months) I would be NOWHERE on “Cracks In The Wall” my third novel in the Parker Havenot series.
    Many thanks, my friend- you have no idea how many writers you have set on the right path!

    • Thanks, Duke, I think. (grin) I tend to boggle my own sometimes as well. Sure looking forward to seeing you a week from now.

  5. Harvey,

    I read and enjoy your posts although not too interested in the computer related postings. I do have a comment on rewriting. It’s my experience that my best writing is the first draft. I generally do not re-write but since I love reading my own stuff I do re-read and make a few changes, usually a better adjective or completing an incomplete sentence but the basic writing never changes much. I agree that running your writing through a group generally dilutes the impact and brings it all down to the least common denominator and therefore takes some of the fun and originality out of the craft.

    • Thanks George. I appreciate that. Watch for my next post. I am coming to understand that I was not clear with my “Second Curiosity” above, so I’m going to clarify soon.

  6. Don’t worry, be happy! I enjoy your blog a lot, especially the sections about “writing into the dark.” That’s how I imagine writing fiction to be. The reader walks into a pitch dark room, but the writer has to guide him or her to explore the surroundings by shining slowly a candle, a flash light, a strobe, a searchlight, a spot light, or a full blast on parts of the situation or location to draw the reader in. Yet the PLAN of this illumination is up to the writer, and therein lies the SKILL. — It motivates me when you keep saying, “Just sit down and do it.”

    • Ann Elise, you are RIPE to take my Audio Lecture 12, Writing Off Into the Dark. Seriously. It would be probably the best investment you ever make in your writing. And that freebie over in Green Valley next Monday? You definitely want that one. Motivation R Us.

      And if you enjoy that, you would probably really enjoy the other blog I’m about to open to everyone. Stay tuned. As I said in response to George above, I’ll be clarifying in a new post soon.

  7. i meant edit in your head. i know you. i’m leaving town on the 4th. do you record your seminars? ps. your math questions are too hard!

    • 🙂 Nope, not even in my head. I’m so busy not minding everyone else’s business that I’m able to apply what I know to my own stuff. 🙂 It’s wonderful. 🙂 On the 4th, for good or what? and where?

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