An Old Concept Made Fresh and New, Sort Of

Hi Folks,

An interesting article titled “Micro-Progress Your Novel” caught my attention back in late February. I had to share it because it’s so… well, not new.

Despite the high-falutin’ title, the article is all about eating an elephant one bite at a time. That’s all.

Instead of trying to “write a novel,” which the author of the post calls a “daunting prospect,” the idea is to set a series of smaller goals, like writing for a particular length of time (or a particular number of words) per day. Or writing a scene. Or, I suppose, simply writing the next sentence, then writing the next sentence.

Sound familiar?

It certainly sounds familiar to me, as it no-doubt does to those who follow my Journal over at Or to anyone who follows the blog of Dean Wesley Smith.

But now that the process has a chique new cutting-edge name, complete with a noun used as a verb (Really? You want to “progress” your novel?) maybe more folks will try it. Either way, that’s only a good thing.

After all, a rose by any other name…. You know.

Basically, whatever works. Anyway, if the uninitiated DO try it, especially if—in conjunction with setting those smaller, more easily attainable goals—they

● learn to quiet their critical mind,
● come to understand that writing is play (not “work” or “drudgery” and not an angelic calling from on high), and
● learn that writing, but not the particular story or novel is “important,”

maybe they’ll Just Write.

And when that happens, they’ll be amazed to learn that writing a novel isn’t a daunting prospect at all.

It’s actually a great deal of fun.

But all kidding aside, the article helped me too. It helped me to see past the end of my nose, to remember things I’ve known for a long time.

I even saw myself and my own “problem” in the fifth paragraph of the article. And this morning (as I write this), before I even started on my Journal entry, I started correcting my situation.

Recently I was watching a rerun of an old Peter Gunn episode. The thing was really hokey. Not all that well-written, and it had a plot so thin it was practically invisible. The best part was the language the actors used.

I looked at my wife and said, “Y’know, I have a lot of things boiling around in my head right now, but I’d really like to write another PI/noir novel.”

Yes, I want to write a thriller series. Eventually. But I know I’m not ready for that yet, craft-wise. And I have an SF novel, expanded from a short story, waiting in the wings. And I have a crime/mystery thing likewise standing stage right twiddling its thumbs.

But I’d actually forgotten about the last PI/noir novel I started, I don’t know, maybe six months ago.

So this morning (again, as I write this), I opened it, dusted it off, poured my main character a fresh drink of cheap whiskey, and started writing fiction again.

It was only around 11,000 words when I set it aside. So it’s still a brand-new story.

All I know right now is that it has a typical tough-guy PI who’s trying to make ends meet, a corrupt mayor and city attorney, gangsters, and a smokin’ hot blonde who’s a great deal more (involved? tempting? trouble?) than she seems.

And my personal trademark as a writer will be there too — the reader will feel as if he’s in the scene with the characters as the action unfolds. (grin)

I’m sure looking forward to seeing where it goes.

‘Til next time, happy writing.

Oh, to read the original article in its entirety (I recommend it), see “Micro-Progress Your Novel” at


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