Thoughts on Fiction: Writing What You Know

The single, most used piece of writing advice ever, is write what you know. It’s good advice. It isn’t great advice, and I’d argue that there are much better (and much less vague) words of wisdom to bestow upon would-be writers. I’m sure I’ll touch on some of that in just a moment, but in the meantime, let’s tackle this.

Write What You Know.

First, why is this good advice? Simple, really; the more you know of something, the more accurately you can build a picture of it in your mind, and transcribe that picture to the page. If you’re a nurse, you should be able to visualize a hospital, imagine care-giving scenarios, and have a healthy vocabulary of all those tricky little medical terms nobody can pronounce.

If you’re a farmer, same deal.

Anything in life, at all. Every single thing that you are, that you do, that you observe with your senses—these are all things that you know, and should be able to accurately describe. Use that. It makes your fiction more real. More honest.

If you happen to be a trash collector, or a custodian, or even jobless, please, don’t despair over the belief that those things you know don’t make interesting stories. I feel like this is where the advice of writing what you know fails. A lot of people think that they don’t really know anything, or that the things they know aren’t interesting enough to constitute story telling. For some of those people, that may very well be true, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t write.

Most of us have within us stories that we need to tell. They come to us sometimes in a dream, or one of those Aha! moments, or even just because it’s a story that we, ourselves, want to read. The truth of fiction is that an overwhelmingly large majority of stories are fanciful, or other-worldly, and if all fiction was the everyday lives of nurses and trash collectors, nobody would fucking read it.

Fantasy authors create an entirely different world, sometimes with in-depth magic systems, sometimes where the entire rules and laws of physics are completely different from our own world. Some of these fantasy books sell a great deal, and there is not much there to anchor the reader in a recognized reality. In the writing, there is very little being written that is write what you know, but guess what, it doesn‘t matter.

How can fiction be good then, if you ignore what your high school English teacher said? Easily. That English teacher didn’t elaborate on what she meant.

Just because a fantasy/horror/sci-fi/whateverthefuck author has created a different world/monster/universe, it doesn’t mean they aren’t writing what they know. I’ll give a couple of examples. I am writing a fantasy novel right now. I created a different world, a different mythology, different races of men and women, different species of plants and animals, and a complete system of magic, loosely rooted in ancient pagan beliefs here on earth. The thing that anchors this fantasy novel to reality, and the thing that readers (I hope) can identify with, latch onto, and root for or against, is bits of familiar realism in an unfamiliar world.

In order to do this, I had to dig into myself and drag out what it is that I know, so I could fucking write it. There are several characters in my novel that have varying degrees of mental illness. One may suffer from depression, and another may be suffering from dementia, and little bits of schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder pop up as well. I can do this, and I can do it fairly accurately, because I worked in the mental health field for seven years. I can take my experiences there—my observations and whatnot—and I can write scenes with firsthand knowledge.

Substance abuse also plays a major role in this story. Several characters deal with it, and I can write those characters especially affectively, because I have dealt with substance abuse, personally, for about as long as I can remember.

The novel is not about mental illness or substance abuse. I did not write a novel based solely on what I know. I wrote a novel about a character who is a reluctant hero, tossed in with a group headed to save the world, who is far more powerful than she or anyone else may ever even realize. That character happens to be chronically depressed, and she abuses drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Fiction is not real. It can be whatever the hell the writer wants it to be. The thing that makes it feel real enough to picture, real enough to see the scene while forgetting the words are in front of your face, is when the reader connects with something they recognize from actual reality. It doesn’t matter that my characters are being chased by a black shadow that can steal the souls of men, or that they found shelter inside the skull of a giant, fallen god. When I write about substance abuse or mental illness, the entire story will seem more real because of it, because those things are things that I know.

The phrase should be more like, “Write with what you know.”

I don’t think the intention was ever to tell people to write entire stories based on the things that they know, and only those things that they know. Phillip K. Dick didn’t know shit about androids. J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t know shit about orcs. Stephen King probably doesn’t know shit about burial grounds that bring the dead back to life. Androids, orcs, and ghosts are not what made those authors great. Injecting pieces of what they knew/know into their worlds, their characters, and their situations are what made the stories seem real, whether you’re in Middle-earth grab-assing with Frodo, or your little boy who got hit by a semi somewhere in Maine has climbed out of his grave and is cutting up your wife.

I think what any writer actually ought to do, is write what they like, and write the book that they would want to read. Along the way, it’s best to insert pieces of what you know into your characters and into the experiences in the story.

I would advise against writing a story about being a telemarketer, where the only action is waking up, going to work, leaving work, and going to bed, all goddamn week, just to get shitfaced on Friday and waste your whole weekend being hungover. That book sounds fucking terrible. A call center employee who keeps getting phone calls from his dead fiancé?—you might have something there. You probably don’t know shit about the afterlife, and ghosts, and whateverthefuck, but you damn sure know about call centers. Even though it may be about the supernatural, something completely unobserved by normal, average humanity, the detail and truth you write with while describing the atmosphere of the call center is what will make that story seem real. Also, if you happen to have lost a fiancé, nothing gets more real than that, and your readers will certainly pick up on the honesty.

Write with passion.
Write with longing.
Write with what you know.

It’s a tool, not a rule.


Love Lost

This is the beginning of my next novel. It’s a little different than what I normally write. No fantasy this time. I kind of wanted to try to bridge the gap between literary fiction and genre fiction — focusing mostly on the characters, and what’s going on inside of them, but also giving enough of an odd plot to be enjoyable for genre readers. I’m not sure if I’ll succeed in this endeavor, but I’ll let you guys be the first judge. Let me know what you think. Comments, and especially criticisms are massively appreciated.


Branden was talking to that girl again. The one from the bar; the girl with the jean-shorts with the rips in them that showed half of her ass, and the flannel shirt that she tied in a knot in the middle just across her bare bellybutton. Her skin was orange and wrinkled, but Branden was drinking a lot lately, and he seemed more lonely than he’d ever been. He plucked away at his phone, sending little smiley-faces, and apparently laughing out loud — you’d think — for how many times he wrote the damn acronym, but a smile never once touched his face.

Nicole stood behind the couch, watching over Branden’s shoulder with her arms crossed as he texted. He didn’t notice her. He never did. She’d whisper in his ear, and call him dirty names — liar, cheater, asshole — but he never even turned his head to face her. He never looked her in the eyes. He went to bed without saying goodnight, sometimes with that girl, somewhere else, and sometimes at home, his eyes wetting the pillow, with beer bottles littering the bed.

It hurt to see him like that. Nicole knew that he was suffering, but she was, too, damn it, and even worse — she couldn’t talk to anybody about it. At least Branden had that. Someone he could call up, someone he could meet up with for drinks. Someone who could hold him.

The only person Nicole had ever had was Branden, and he couldn’t even notice that she was in the same room. Sometimes when she broke down, and threw something, there’d be some sort of recognition, some sort of reflection of who he was, who they had been on his face, and then he’d shake it away, letting it go like whispers in the wind. Something was there, though just under the surface, so close to realizing the pains she was taking to communicate — acting out, to just get something out of him.

But even that was rare.

“Just talk to me,” she said.

Branden continued tapping the keyboard on his phone, sending: “I’ll be there in a little bit.” He was going to her house again, the fourth time since Nicole had found out about them.

He always stank when he came home. Sweat lingered with the caramelized bitter smell of old liquor and stale cigarette smoke, and something else, sort of fruity and wispy, some sort of spray the teenagers wore, and the women who wished they were teenagers wore. Watermelon breeze, or some other nonsense. His eyes were always heavy, and he’d walk passed Nicole in the doorway without saying a word, and he’d fall into the couch without ever taking off his boots. He wouldn’t turn on the TV. He wouldn’t eat any food. He’d lie there staring at the ceiling until he’d only have a few minutes to shower before going to work, until his work started leaving messages asking where he was. He’d get up, pace around the room, then delete them and go back to the couch.

He was so different now, so far gone. It almost hurt to go on watching him live, just eking through life, scratching his way through one aching day after another. Nicole just wished there was some way that she could fix it, even though, deep down, she knew the truth. Things were over between them.


His phone buzzed, and the screen lit up. It was her. Meagan. Nicole watched as her husband opened a photo of some skinny blonde piece of trailer trash dressed in nothing but her tiny white laced underwear, and read the photo caption. It said: “Hurry.”

Nicole felt her face grow hot, burning like the heat of a thousand suns, but it was no longer jealousy, not the jealousy that she had first felt about this girl that burned so bright and violent before. It wasn’t that that she was dredging up, now — that anger where she called him fucker, and traitor, and slime, no, she just felt sad now, and she hurt so so deep within herself; so deep that she thought that if she could cut into her own chest and rip free her dead heart, only then could she stand to feel all right about it all. She felt her eyes begin to burn, and her vision blurred. She leaned closer, almost touching her lips to his ear.

“Stay,” she whispered, her voice wavering as it lumped in her throat.

As the word escaped her lips, she saw it all in slow motion as her breath caught the hair above Branden’s ear. It moved, ever so slightly, just like the way the summer grass does, quivering at the gasp of a looming storm.

He snapped his head to face her, their noses almost touching, lips, everything so close to touching, that she could feel the warmth of his skin, and smell the salt of his sweat, but his eyes, his eyes, they looked right through her. It wasn’t surprise that was there on his face or anger, no. His brow was wrinkled with concern, or maybe it was fear, and Nicole could see the hair prickle on his neck. He shivered, and opened his mouth, his lips parting, floundering for words like there was something there, something fighting so desperately to be said, his face contorted as if he couldn’t believe what thoughts were forming in his head.


For a moment, she thought that he could see her there, really see her as she was, sitting there, just an inch away, with a single tear rolling down her face. But his eyes, they stared beyond, out of focus, searching for something that just wasn’t there. And she knew again, as so many times before, that no matter how hard she tried, no matter how bad she wanted it, that the living simply could not see the dead.

Thoughts of Fiction: Outlining

There’s generally two camps — both full of ravenous, blood-lusting, ax-wielding psychopaths — when it comes to the topic of outlines.

Extreme camp 1 believes that outlining your novel before writing it somehow streamlines the process, making the victory of the battle to come, the battle of writing your novel, predestined, foreseen in the stars as prophecy. These are your barbarians — typical hack and slash followers of a maniacal diviner who says the outlined path is paved with gold.

Extreme camp 2 is an uptight bunch of mages, relying on their whimsical prowess, and finger magic — no battle plan, just magical reactions to the chaos of the battlefield — to secure their victory. That, being a novel of greatness, crafted by the mysticism of the muse. These are a stingy lot, and curse the birth of the damned barbarian outlining whores.

Most writers fall into one of these camps.

Some writers — many great ones — will never ever start a story without a fully finished outline, and a written ending.

Good for them.

Others would rather die than outline, believing, falsely, that outlining kills the story before it’s written and nothing outlined can grow on its own.

Good for them, too.

The reality is this:

Those two camps are going to clash, and war it out one day, and what you have at that moment, right in the middle, is what I believe, for me, is where good writing begins to form.

I used to be a strict believer in camp number 2, and I would never touch an outline. Not with a 10 foot stick. I believed that your characters could not fully grow and develop if you had already predetermined that growth and development without ever letting the character breath on paper.

I still believe that.

But, there is a but.

Imagine an outline that didn’t involve character growth? Or an outline where the main scenes of the middle and ending had not been written into it yet.

An outline doesn’t have to be a summary of your novel. It can be a skeleton.

As you build that skeleton in prose, you also start adding the organs, the muscles, the nerves, the blood, and the skin.

If you had your character on a straight path from point A to point B and C, but when you’re building that character, it makes more sense to skip point B and go directly to C, than do so. Break that bone fragment, and heal it up. Another scar for your character, another bit of honesty.

The blood of the barbarians and the blood of those prissy mages mixes on the battlefield, and forms something new: A writer who can portray honest characters, and (gasp) doesn’t have a quest line that looks hand drawn by Michael J Fox.

The story line and the movement from A to B to C, can be concise, and straightforward without the little lapses where a non-outliner decided to get fancy-pantsy and just fuck up the flow and direction of the story with their little magical, artistic whim. Instead, that magic can be focused, and honed in on breathing life into characters, and truth into the scene.

Whatever works for you is fine.

Like I said, I used to curse outlining. The serial-defiler of free-written beauty.

I’ve changed.

Switch it up a bit. Test the waters. If you’re a pantser, as they say (someone who writes by the seat of their pants), try adding just a framework of an outline before you start your next story. Just a direction to head in. Stick to it, and use that hallucinatory focus of muse-writing to fill in the holes. If you’re a planner (outliner), throw a little of that tight-ass caution to the wind. Head into certain scenes not knowing what the hell your characters are going to do. Let your subconscious take over.

Get a little bit outside of your comfort zone, and maybe, like myself, you might find that the ways you’ve glued yourself in for all of those years were actually holding you back.

Breathe a little.

It’s all going to be OK.

Thoughts on Fiction: Naysayers

Who here is afraid to tell someone that they write? One of those casual conversations comes up, always, where someone asks what you do, or what you want to do, or what your hobbies are, and you self-cringe at the thought of spouting off anything to do with writing.


It’s not like it’s dishonest work. The validity of having a lucrative career in writing is certainly viable. Every time you read — pretty much anything — someone was paid to write it.

So why are you looked at like a lazy bum, or a freeloader, or some hillbilly with a pipe dream?

It’s infuriating that 99.9% of people do not take writers seriously, until they’re getting that #1 bestseller autographed on some book they’ll never read.

When I first sat down to write this, I wanted to write about taking criticism in stride. But, I think most people end up getting that one. If you can’t take criticism, you’re in the wrong business.

What I find worse than bad critics are no-good, Nellie Naysayers. They laugh when you say that you write, and then they feel pity when they realize you were serious, because, c’mon, really? Nobody becomes a successful writer…

Do people often tell you that you should pick a trade, or get into computers, because that’s where the future is at?!

Did they tell you to pick a different major in college.

Did your parents tear apart your teenage, angsty poetry when you were a kid, and gave you some obscure Robert Frost poem that they read back in high school as an example of good poetic form. Really, even then you thought, Frost sucks.

It never stops.

The people that beg you to pick something else to do with your life; the people that beg you to study something different in college; the people that dishonor you by telling you that they thought they should always write a book. Because, you know, cubicle mates with copies of The Hunger Games on their cube shelf, untouched, are suddenly so literarily inclined.

It’s demeaning, like it’s just some fantasy for us, like we‘re fat little kids who say we want to be professional wrestlers when we grow up.

You would never go up to a bodybuilder, a fighter pilot, or a teacher, and tell them that you always thought that you could do what they do. It’s fucking insulting to have someone so unstudied on anything relating to words, grammar, literary art, or emotional emptying for someone else’s entertainment, simply disregard all of the years and hard work you’ve put into modestly learning how to craft a proper sentence.

But it happens, and we move on.

Remember, you cannot educate a fool. How could you possibly explain the downfall of adverbs, or passive voice to some drunk girl at a bar who, “has gone through some shit,” and thinks that that “shit” would make a good novel?

You can’t.

So don’t bother.

Same with the people that tell you to do something else with your life. Fuck ‘em. It’s your goddamn life, and if you want to live in squalor while you’re young, piecing together a literary masterpiece only to be paid $40,000 dollars for it (half on signing, to live in absolute poverty waiting for acceptance and then publication), then you go right ahead with your bad self. That’s how it’s done. That’s how we all do it at first. That’s straight up winning in this market.

Your work is your soul.

Aside from those people, there are other naysayers.

I was just having a conversation with my dad the other day about this fantasy novel I’ve been putting my all into for the last, I don’t know, as long as I can remember. I was proud as hell, and wanted to share that feeling.

He told me fantasy sucks and has nothing to teach the world. (As a side note, all he does is read Jesus books, and old classics and biographies. Not good ones either. He hates Hemingway, and his favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald stories (who I adore by the way), are the most hideously boring ones.) My father’s taste in literature, as it stands, is old Shakespeare at the moment. Which boggles my mind. My father, the reader, and apparent expert on literature had to ask me what Iambic Pentameter was. You read Shakespeare, religiously, but you have no fathom of a clue on how his prose is supposed to be read? Explain to me again why my choice in literature is invalid.

I digress.

I went in depth about the honesty of human behavior, and the opportunity for huge lessons of morals within fantasy, gave examples, and even broached the subject concerning the difficulty of fantasy writing, and how talented one has to be to write a successful fantasy novel with a rich history and beautiful world.

He responded by telling me that I have a gift, and it’s being wasted. What I should be doing, apparently, is researching my European lineage, and how it tied in with the downfall of Richard III, and also researching my Irish roots, and the life of my grandmother growing up in povern orphanages.

I love history. I love my family. However, what I am passionate about, and the place where I believe my true skill lies — my calling in life — is fiction. Period.

Because I can write pretty looking prose in my fiction work, my father believes that what I should be doing is writing historical non-fiction?

How does that even make sense? It’s two different worlds. It’s two different brains.

Even as I write this now, it is so so so far away from my style when I’m writing fiction. It’s like reading work from two different people. My non-fiction is a fucking bore.

What’s an even bigger bore, is someone else trying to tell you what to write.

I don’t know if anything makes me angrier.

And I’m sure many of you have gone through this same thing — people shoving little knives in you day in and day out with a complete and utter lack of respect for the work you’re doing every day, just pushing out beautiful chapter after beautiful chapter.

Don’t let these people get to you.

Don’t ever go home and say, you know, that dipshit loser was right. I am going to become an electrician instead. Or a plumber. Or a welder. Or an IT specialist.

I’m not going to degrade those fine, hard working people that love their craft.

The same, no one should degrade you for loving yours, and trying to reach new heights each day. Never be dissuaded.


So here’s the sum of the post. People are going to shit on, give you shit, and make you feel like shit about your writing.

Tell each and every one of those people to put a bunch of rocks in their little pockets, and walk out into a lake.

You’re a writer. You’re emotional enough as it is. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. The only thing you need to do is prove them wrong. All of them. One at a time if need be.

The bird flips here.

Aspiring, they say?

To all of my fellow writers out there — especially the unpublished — I have some advice.

Just like any advice, take it with a grain of salt. Kosher only, and add pepper.

All of you writers — word-smiths , scribblers, even wordcount grinders — I have one wish for you. You all, are writers of words. Whether those words have been mass-printed and sold around the world or not, that fact still stands.

The next time someone asks you what you do, don’t let your identity, your soul, become chained to that shit job you almost walk out of every single day. Don’t say, “I’m a fucking cashier at Walmart.” Be proud. Stand up straight, shoulders back with your chin in the air, and you say, “I am a writer.”

Because after all. That is what you are. Do not dull yourself down with that hideous word aspiring. You can’t aspire to do something that you are already doing.

And if that person that barged into your life and made you answer questions about yourself without your permission, if he still stands, pushing the subject further, and asks, “Sir/Madam, have I read anything that you’ve written?”, instead of asking him if he has ever read a book, ignore that gnawing, and simply say, “you soon will.”

And then…

Prove yourself right.

Thoughts on Fiction: Moods, Muses, and Moments.

There is a lot of information out there specifically intended for writers, and a lot of that information I’ve found to be misleading. It’s copy and pasted click-bait bullshit, posted by someone that doesn’t even write.

These articles usually focus around a few key things. You know the ones, “What you have to do to be a successful writer.” “10 habits of successful writers.” They talk about moods, muses, and time management, when it really only comes down to one thing.



I’ve read article upon article, blog upon blog, book upon book, that speaks of a certain inaccessible state of being that one has to be in to write effectively.

Sometimes, it’s recommended that you meditate to flush from yourself any ill wants, or wishes. You need to detox — send all of your bad feelings straight back to hell, and tap away at your keyboard with blind sublimity.

Flush that shit down the toilet.

What is writing other than conveyance of emotion? You want your reader to feel something, and you attempt to invoke that feeling through the almighty word of yourself.

So, how can you convey hate, evil, or even sadness for that matter, if you never write when you are down in that dark and horrifying place?

The most successful books I can think of are tempestuous monsters of emotional toil. They build you up, making something so bright and happy that your skin begins to prick up with excitement as you hallucinate that you’re the character you’re reading about. That’s shortly ripped away, often by someone dying, or some sort of love lost, and you’re left crying into your pillowcase for the next three days.

You feel pain, heartache, true joy, suffering, jealousy, anger, love, and you even laugh out loud. All within the span of 80,000 little black and white words.

The writer of those little black and white words wrote them with his or her heart. That’s why you can feel them, too. The writer most likely didn’t meditate, and drink some odd concoction thrown into a blender to give some seudo rush of dopamine. No. They simply wrote, and they put themselves in the shoes of the characters, feeling those emotions at all times.

It is the most human thing in us to feel all of those wonderful and horrible things.

Your book doesn’t have to be linearly written. When you are angry, write an angry scene, or write the POV of a character with a temper. When you are sad, write that depressing little chapter as you shed a tear on your keyboard. On and on, with everything you can feel. Denying your emotions while crafting art is about the most stifling thing I can think of.

Write with hate. Write with elation. The stronger the emotion, the more honest your work will be.

I promise.


Lots and lots of writers claim some sort of muse, something that inspires them, and guides the words together as they form them on whatever medium it is they use.

That’s great.

I regret, however, that most of the information out there (bad advice blogs) on muses, tend to dance around the subject, claiming that a muse is an actual, physical thing, whispering to you ideas for stories at every little interaction or piece of scenery you come across.

That’s not a muse. That’s emotional intelligence. Pat yourself on the back if that happens, to you, because it is the very thing that makes good writers.

Nothing whispers in your head. Nothing shows you images of what to write. If you’re truly hallucinating, and hearing voices, go to a doctor, now.

If you’re still here, I urge you to think about this:

Great writers are those that are inhumanly sensitive to the world. Sunsets bring tears to your eyes, or a beautiful, vast, landscape brimming with life — brimming with the lack of human touch, makes you pine for the life of a wanderer.

When you feel something, you feel it with all of your heart.

The Red Wedding still makes you cry just by thinking of it.

Your breath is swept away when your lover brushes their hand across your cheek, and you can see each and every little thing within their eyes that pulled you in all of those years ago.

It’s not a muse. It’s you being more aware of the world than anybody else; you catching that awareness, filing every bit of it away, and saving it to pour out on paper while you relive the whole experience over and over.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Also, lots of writer’s claim physical muses, that I’d argue are more of a crutch, and there’re some people who actually push this way of thinking. This idea that drinking and writing produce great works of fiction is ridiculous.

But, hey, I once fell in with that crowd.

When I would write drunk, I would produce some amazing prose, shit that I never ever thought that I could put into words. I also produced some of the most ridiculous, nonsensical crap that has ever been typed.

You know what I noticed now that I’m writing sober? I more consistently put out good work than I do bad. The swings have gone away, and a bad day for me now would be considered a good day when I was drinking.

People like to quote Hemingway, the famous, “write drunk; edit sober,” which, in fact, Hemingway never even said. Truth be told, Hemingway, one of the most loved authors of all time never wrote drunk. He was an alcoholic, and he wrote sober.

If there’s advice in there, which I believe there is, follow it.

The truth is, drugs and alcohol don’t enhance what words you put down. Generally, I’ve found for the average person, they do more to destroy them.

Artists on the other hand… Well, that’s a conversation for a different day.

Last but not least Mfers…

The horribly horribly misadvised:


I wrote a little about this yesterday. This, make yourself sit down and write so many words shit.

Don’t do it.

Do: Keep your goddamn eyes open.

Have you ever written a seen where you are trying to describe the way someone reacts to something, and you can’t quite put your finger on what the body language looks like?

Instead of making yourself write when you don’t want to, focus on taking notes. When you are in public, write little notes on your phone or notebook you keep in your back pocket about interactions you have.

What did it look like? What did that rainstorm look like as your drove to work? Get a little recorder, and speak it aloud. What did that foggy sunset look like on your drive home? Record it.

You saw a dog get hit by a car? Write your feelings.

You saw your best friend’s girl/boyfriend out with another guy/girl. Write down your feelings. Write down what his/her reaction is when you expose that heartless swindler for what they truly are.

Everything you see, touch, taste, hear, and smell is a tool in your arsenal, and you are witness to these things 24 hours a day. You don’t have to be writing prose all the time, and especially limiting that, or forcing it up to a certain word count. 1,000 words a day? Gimme a freaking break…


But please, take notes.

Don’t stifle yourself.

And write the rest as you feel it.


Thoughts on Fiction: The Act of Writing

In the introduction to Stephen King’s fantastic book about writing, aptly titled, On Writing, he says something very interesting about writers, and I’ve since sort of latched onto it. He says that most writers don’t really understand a whole lot about what they do.

Not why it works when it’s good, and why it doesn’t when it’s bad.

He also says that most books about writing are filled with bullshit, and I’d have to agree with him.

So are most blogs about writing.

I’ve run across these types quite often just by searching words like fiction, or writing in the reader. All are filled with advice that’s simply been copied and paraphrased from famous authors who said some inane comment in an interview just to respond.

They say, “write 1,000 words per day, no matter what.”
They say, “write with your heart and follow your muse.”
They say, “comment below and I’ll follow you.”

They all read the same. Someone having a mid life crisis who sits around daydreaming about being a rich and famous author, but never finishes a god damn book. They post memes about coffee and how they can’t do anything until they’ve had three cups. They post minion memes for Christ’s sake.

I’m not here to bash people about their blogs, or what they decide to do with their time, but I’d just like to warn you to take those advice blogs with a grain of salt. It’s not advice. It’s bullshit, and it’s posted so they can get 600 phony likes on their page and a million other assholes, like themselves, commenting some drivel about absolutely nothing, just so people will, in turn, look at their shitty little blog.

If that offends you…

I was going to say, “I apologize,” but I don’t, so I deleted it.



The reason I title this crap, Thoughts on Fiction, is because that is what it is. I’m not here to tell you how to write fiction, or quote Hemingway’s drunk ass to you. I’m here to give you my thoughts.

Concerning 1,000 words a day:

That is one of the most bullshitty pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. It’s great for someone that actually writes, and it’s even better when it’s phrased as, “write AT LEAST 1,000 words a day.”

The truth is, most every writer that I know, myself included, can whip out 1,000 words in about 15 minutes. If you call yourself a serious writer, and you only work 15 minutes a day, I don’t know whether to call you a genius or an idiot.

Sure, some days people don’t feel like writing. You know what? Don’t write that day, then. Easy as that. I feel that forcing yourself to write 1,000 words would simply result in writing 1,000 shitty words.

And, I feel like this whole camp that constantly blogs about pushing out 1,000 words a day, no matter fucking what, aren’t writers at all.

Ok, right here, I’m going to give you one of my thoughts, but for once, it’s also some serious advice.

You ready for it?

If you have to make yourself sit down. Every day. And literally grind out 1,000 words. Every day. You know what? Writing isn’t for you.

I’m sorry. (not really.)

It’s that simple.

Having several discussions with other writers at writing groups, or online, or anywhere really — writers who pump out good, even great work, and lots and lots of it — they all have the same thing in common.

Never feeling forced to write. Writing, to successful writers, is like breathing. It is something that has to be done in order to survive. They never grind, and grind, to put down X amount of words, so they can go back to taking pictures of a fucking cup of coffee on a nightstand next to a stack of books, and posting a ridiculous blog about it, saying some useless shit about #writerslife.

These were the same people who asked you what you did in college, and when you said, “writer,” they said, “oh, I’ve always thought that I’d be good at writing books.”

Don’t feed these people. Writing is work, and every shitty little post entitled 25 Habits of Good Writers that is just a post of 25 quotes from every cliché famous author, just demeans what you, as an actual writer of words, does.


You should hallucinate when you write.

I don’t mean on hallucinogens. No. All of those writers that I was talking about, you want to know what other characteristic they share? They start writing, slowly at first, and then their subconscious takes over. They don’t see the words they are typing, they see the scene in their head as they go along, and suddenly, ferociously, 1,000 words was 4,500 words ago.

I’ve gone on sprees where I’ve written over 15,000 in one day.

I’ve gone on sprees where I didn’t write for four or five days, simply because I didn’t have anything to say.

I still get a lot of work done.

And that is what you should be focusing on. Sure, writing a lot does give you practice, and makes your writing better every single day, but I have news for you. Writing 1,000 words a day is not a lot of writing.

The only advice you need about writing is this:

Write when you have something to say, and write like whatever it is that presses on you so urgently, so violently that you have to put it out to the world, is the very something that set fire to the stars.

Because to you, it should be.

Your readers should be able to feel that fire in your words.