The Journal: The Difference Between the Myths and WITD

In today’s Journal

* Topic: The Difference Between the Myths and WITD
* Of Interest

Topic: The Difference Between the Myths and WITD

The purpose of this Journal is to advocate WITD and promote self-confidence in writers. In it, I try to share the joy and freedom of writing into the dark.

I understand it’s difficult to face-down your fears and break through, but I’m proof positive that it can be done. That said, I admit it’s much easier to remain comfortably mired in the myths.

Had I decided to rely on any of several excuses, including a few personal physical and mental anomalies, to remain mired in those myths, I might have written one or two novels over the past 8 years instead of 66. That’s how much difference WITD makes.

In short, if I had accepted “I can’t,” well, I wouldn’t have. So let me explain why adhering to the myths is such a bad idea.

The worst thing about the myths from a general human standpoint is that they cause the writer to waste a ton of time hovering over one story in an effort to “improve” or even “perfect” it.

This is a complete waste of time, because what one person (the writer) eventually deems “improved” or “perfect,” any number of readers will find faulty and imperfect.

You can’t please everyone, so why not err on the side of pleasing your characters? After all, it’s their story.

But far worse than wasting your time, the longer you hover over a story and the more you allow your own or other critical minds to influence it, the further removed it becomes from your characters’ authentic story.

You know that little nausea-like twinge you get in your gut as you revise or rewrite? That’s your creative subconscious and your characters trying to warn you that you’re going too far, that you’re screwing up the story.

Still, writers choose to hover just as if it actually makes sense to do so. In that hovering, writers

1. eye the story critically as they revise individual words and sentences even though such revisions do nothing to improve the actual story.

2. invite criticism (so input from others’ critical minds) and then revise again or rewrite based on that input.

3. might also pay big bucks for input from a “developmental” editor, thereby wasting money as well as time.

The conscious, critical mind creates nothing, folks. Even your own conscious, critical mind cannot know what’s best for your characters’ story. Only they know that, as conveyed through your creative subconscious as you write.

And no critique partners or group members or developmental editors have the slightest clue what’s going on in your characters’ story. Their input can only ever be external. As such, in every case, that input is foreign to the natural progression of the story. It is forced on the story against the characters’ will.

On the other hand, most long-term professional fiction writers are not mired in the myths. Rather than waste time ruining a story in an attempt to improve or perfect it, they submit or publish it and move on to the next story. Like professionals in almost every field, they recognize that improvement requires practice, not hovering.

So how do you tell the difference between wallowing in the myths and being an actual fiction writer? By the results. More on that in a moment.

But while we’re at it, you can also tell the difference between an honest instructor and others. How? By what it costs you, or what you’re expected to give.

I am an honest instructor.

I want you to let go of the myths and discover the truth: that fiction writing — storytelling — is a natural function of the human creative subconscious and it’s both fun and freeing. The notion that we have to “suffer” for our art in order to imbue it with value is ridiculous.

Notice that I gain nothing for myself by teaching you this truth. I’ll even give away my non-fiction books if you want them and can’t afford them.

And if you buy-in to what I’m offering, what do you stand to gain?

Writing Into the Dark (WITD) truly is a freeing, joyful way to write that even feeds your self-confidence as a writer. It requires only a little discipline to start. You don’t even have to learn anything you don’t already know. Rather you can release a lot of nonsense (the myths) as you learn to believe in yourself, your creative subconscious and your characters.

The others — well, the others want to keep you hooked on the myths, period.

After almost five decades as a writer, I’m satisfied these folks are charlatans. They pretend to care about your development as a writer, but they don’t. To do so would go against their self-interest.

Instead, they’re almost mercenary in their eagerness to keep you mired in the myths. The longer you’re stuck in the myths, the longer you’ll keep buying their so-called “craft” books and services (developmental editing or book doctoring, for example). And trust me, you won’t get anything from them free. Or don’t trust me. Write them and ask for a free craft book (but not in exchange for an email address capture).

If you believe me, a whole new world will open to you and you need never look back or hover again.

If you believe the charlatans, then you’ll buy their craft books and/or services and the cycle continues.

But don’t take my word for any of this. You can recognize both the myths and WITD yourself by the results.

The myths, like the conscious, critical mind, are always negative. And their purpose is the same as the purpose of the conscious, critical mind: to slow or stop the process of creation and thereby enable you to avoid embarrassment.

Every myth — outlining, revising, rewriting, seeking critical input, and polishing — speaks to what you and your creative subconscious CAN’T do, either without the supervision of your conscious, critical mind or the conscious, critical minds of others.

WITD, like the creative subconscious, is always positive. It’s all about what you CAN do.

WITD is about writing to the best of your ability the first time through, then publishing and starting the next story. It’s about always moving forward.

The Upshot

Perhaps worst of all, the more you rely on your conscious, critical mind to double-check your creative subconscious, the more you signal to your creative subconscious and your characters that you don’t trust them to convey the story that they themselves are living.

Now ask yourself, why should your characters continue to bring you stories when you’ve shown them you’re going to destroy those stories with your conscious, critical mind?

And so the creative flow slows to a trickle, or dries up altogether. If you have trouble coming up with new story ideas, maybe this is why.

Writing a story does not require a village, folks. Writing a story requires one person, a writer, to look in on a group of characters and write down what happens and what the characters say and do as the story unfolds. It really is that simple.

Talk with you again later.

Of Interest

See “Wow, I Am Surprised” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/wow-i-am-surprised/.

See “Holidays, Celebration, and Special Bonds” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/07/holidays-celebration-and-special-bonds.html.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1210 words

Writing of Blackwell Ops 8 (tentative title, novel)

Day 19… 2117 words. Total words to date…… 41729

Total fiction words for July……… 0
Total fiction words for the year………… 45405
Total nonfiction words for July… 2480
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 96610
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 142015

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. I’ve never said WITD is “the only way” to write, nor will I ever. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among other topics.

2 thoughts on “The Journal: The Difference Between the Myths and WITD”

  1. Hi Harvey! Your words today really helped. After 2 1/2 years of Writing Into The Dark I still struggle with the myths at times. And each time it happens my word count slows way down. Plus I notice I’m not having nearly as much fun. That’s my cue to figure out where my Critical Voice has started butting in again.

    My latest kerfuffle was a few weeks ago at a wedding reception and a relative (who has never even read anything I’ve written) complimented me on how prolific I seem to be, but then asked, “When you write that fast though, don’t all your books start sounding the same?”

    Yeah, I had that deer in the headlights moment. Especially since I write romantic comedies and the romance genre is all about certain reader expectations. Romance readers expect a cute meet, a grand gesture, etc., on the rocky road to romance ~ until the couple finally gets their happy-ever-after by the end.

    Anyway, I let the relative’s comment mess with me for a bit before I finally decided to eat some gopher guts and shrug it off.

    But I did waste a lot of time ~ time I could have been having fun. Time I could have used to complete a brand new novella.

    Anyway, thanks again for the helpful post!

    • Thanks, Maggie. Yep, there are certain expectations to pretty much every genre. Then again, WE know that and our CHARACTERS know that, so what’s to worry?

      “When you write that fast though, don’t all your books start sounding the same?”

      “Oh. No. See, I’m writing the characters’ story, not my own.”

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