Preaching to the Choir (I Hope)

Hi Folks,

Note: This is the final writer-instruction post in this series. Thanks for being along for the ride all these years.

If you’re a writer, and if you’d like to continue to get writing tips and topics almost every day, please head on over to my Daily Journal at and subscribe there. It’s free.

You can also stay on here. After all, what better way to verify that I practice what I preach than to read some of my fiction? (grin)

If you’re a reader, you’re in for a real treat. This blog will become my author newsletter for readers. I will talk here once or twice a month about my characters and settings and worlds, announce new releases, and occasionally give away novels, novellas and short story collections.

But for now, here I am, Preaching to the Choir (I Hope).

First a few Quotes of the Day:

“Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called “mad” and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called “writers” and they do pretty much the same thing.” Ray Bradbury

“I have some goals, but I’m going to mostly keep those to myself. Some of them are very high reaching, and I’ve learned that voicing them just gets criticism… especially writing goals.” Tony DeCastro

“Most readers still read paper. It’s only 30% or so who read e-only. And e-only readers buy paper for “keepers”—the books they always want to have. Paper is easier than it’s ever been, and it’s always been essential. You’re leaving out most readers by being e-only.” Kristine Kathryn Rusch, in a response to one of my less-astute comments

Preaching to the Choir (I Hope)

How unfortunate is that second Quote of the Day above?

How unfortunate is it that some writers, for whom “can’t” is the driving force in their life, seemingly love to put down those who strive for greatness?

“Can’t” is about as negative as it gets, and fortunately, “won’t” is its identical twin. If you believe you can’t, you won’t. Period. (I say “fortunately” because can’t and won’t combined thin out the competition.)

But I flat don’t understand that way of thinking. “Can’t” is a fear-based, critical-mind response to a challenge. But you can turn that fear around:

Instead of fearing what might happen if you strive to reach a goal,
fear what you will certainly miss if you don’t strive to reach it.

I talk a lot here about “failing to success,” a term coined by Dean Wesley Smith. The idea is, if you strive for a lofty (to you) goal and fall short, you still will have accomplished something you wouldn’t have accomplished if you didn’t reach for the goal at all.

Professional writer Diane Darcy quoted Norman Vincent Peale in a comment: “Shoot for the moon; even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” Now that’s a great attitude.

And I applaud writer Maggie King, who wrote in another comment, “I’m finally moving forward and actually even published on Amazon in this brand new year. I’m now writing book #2 and it’s scary as hell but I’m going for it.” Maggie didn’t state her goals, but again, what a great attitude!

I have to admit I’m a little spoiled. I’m fortunate in that I found Dean Wesley Smith, learned quickly to trust him, and attached myself to him as my mentor.

And I’m even more fortunate in that my beautiful mom drove that lesson about “can’t” into my brain as I was growing up. Whenever she heard one of her children utter they “can’t” do something, she would frown and say, “Can’t never did anything. You should remember that.”

I did. And look at me now.


That lesson literally enabled the rest of my life.

Frankly, I survived my childhood because of that lesson. I became a US Marine and later a police officer because of that lesson. And I became a successful professional fiction writer because of that lesson.

If you believe you can’t do something, you’re right, and you’re already defeated.

Is that how you want to live your life? It really is completely up to you.

But if you spread the venom and express to someone else that they can’t do something, shame on you, especially in an endeavor so insignificant as writing.

What? Writing is insignificant? Yes.

Face it: We aren’t pulling victims out of a burning building, and we aren’t running toward gunfire, putting our life on the line. We’re sitting alone in a room making stuff up. And frankly, if you think that’s “hard” or even “work,” you need to check in with yourself. Maybe operate the working end of a shovel for a few 8-hour days.

You’re an entertainer, plain and simple. And you can become a professional entertainer, with millions of people paying good money to read what you wrote and thereby escape their lives for awhile.

But success in writing has nothing to do with luck. It has to do with getting “can’t” out of your vocabulary, setting goals, and then striving to reach them.

And that, my friends, is something you CAN do.

Keep writing and publishing, my friends. And remember, Only you can stop you.

All best,