Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Topic of the Night,  Writing in Public

Approach With Attitude

Approach With Attitude

I got a hunch this topic is big enough for a book all its own, or maybe a workshop, but I’m going to talk about it just a touch tonight in regards to the challenge I’m starting on Friday. See below..


The Day

Meeting at WMG Publishing offices at 2 p.m., then at 3:30 p.m. I started my standard running all over hell-and-gone doing business errands.

Made it back to the office to work on workshop and covers by 5:30 and then off to the grocery store and home to take a nap. Kris did dinner and I did dishes and I got in here around 9:30 p.m. to do e-mail and workshop assignments.

Done at midnight and went to watch some television, then I decided to finish the book I had been reading instead of writing and I did.


New Workshops Announced

In August, Writing Mystery and Reader Expectations workshops will start. Taking sign-ups now. Got a hunch both of them might fill.

All July workshops have room and will start next week. All are limited to five writers max. Some of the July workshops, because of the time of great forgetting, only have one person in them and a few of them have no one signed up yet.

I am putting up here the August workshop schedule as well since those seem to be fitting people’s schedules better and we are taking sign-ups for them. Two new workshops are bolded.

All details at

Class #1… July 5th … Author Voice
Class #2… July 5th … How to Write Thrillers
Class #3… July 5th … Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #4… July 5th … Plotting With Depth
Class #5… July 5th … Character Development
Class #6… July 6th … Depth in Writing
Class #7… July 6th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #8… July 6th … Cliffhangers
Class #9… July 6th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #10… July 6th … Teams in Fiction

Class #11… Aug 2nd … The Business of Writing
Class #12… Aug 2nd … Expectations (Writing on the Rails)
Class #13… Aug 2nd … Writing Mysteries
Class #14… Aug 2nd … Ideas into Stories
Class #15… Aug 2nd … Teams in Fiction
Class #16… Aug 3rd … Depth in Writing
Class #17… Aug 3rd … Plotting With Depth
Class #18… Aug 3rd … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #19… Aug 3rd … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #20… Aug 3rd … Advanced Depth

Classic Workshops and Lectures are also available at any time.



I am starting the challenge on July 1st of a Year of Short Fiction, and I am also starting a repeat of the July challenge of trying to write 32 short stories in July to match last year.

The ultimate goal for the year from July 1, 2016 to June 30th 2017 is 200 short stories plus a dozen or so novels and some nonfiction writing books.

The short stories will be published monthly in collections of 15 stories per collection for one year, starting January 1st. And each collection will have the blog about writing the story and how the story came about.

Now, if I approached this challenge with the idea that I had to have “ideas” ahead of time (those who have taken the Ideas Workshop know why I put the word “ideas” in quotes), I would find myself stuck and stopped almost instantly.

If I made this challenge important, or allowed the fear of failure to creep in at all past a healthy level of drive, I would fail almost instantly.

If any story along the way becomes “important” the challenge will bog down and fail.

So, in other words, if I have the wrong attitude or let a bad attitude creep in, I am doomed.

But at the same time that I have to guard against bad attitude, I have to approach the challenge with the right attitude.

So what is the right attitude?

Breaks down like this for me:

1… I’m going to have fun.

2… I’m going to do my best with every story (or novel I write along the way as well.)

3… I’m going to know deep down that I can do this without any doubt. I did it last year and I can write a novel in seven days or less, so this is going to be just another day at the office for me. (Remember, I have also done 33 monthly magazines with only my own work in them. I know I can do this.)

4… I’m going to focus on the upsides of the wonderful stories I’ll get out of this and not care in the slightest if Kris tells me one of my stories misses. No writing is ever wasted. And I love this kind of practice.

5… I’m going to take it one day at a time, one story at a time. Never looking much at the entire project past this set-up period.

6… I’m going to focus on the upside only, meaning I will finally get ahead of my own magazine and be able to get stories out to major markets. Also, I will have twelve collections to document the entire year just as I did last year with the Stories from July.

7… And most of all, I’m going to have fun. (That is so important, it takes two numbers.)

Attitude is everything in writing.

Writers, either because we believe in a stupid myth like rewriting or believe writing must be done slowly because it’s important, stop ourselves. Over the years I have been no exception to the skill of stopping myself. For years along the way I was a master at it, honestly.

For seven years I couldn’t find the time and thought everything had to be rewritten five times. Then after I got going, I lost a couple hundred short stories and a few novels in a house fire and couldn’t make myself get started again for the longest time because I was afraid of the loss. Why write when it would all just go away? How’s that for wallowing in self-pity for a few years? Yow.

So many writers face the fear of actually doing something. It’s easier to not write or put down people like me who have learned how to write easily than take a chance and put their own work out there.

Fear is an attitude.

Fear of failure is a deadly attitude to writing.

So for me to have fun with this challenge, I am putting away the fear, putting away any thoughts that any story I write will be “important” to anyone but me. And I am going to focus on the upsides of actually finishing short stories regularly.

I am going to do my best with every story and then release.

Last year I did it every day for the entire month of July and I can’t begin to tell you how much fun that was every night putting a story out for Kris to read in the morning. I remember that feeling.

I liked that feeling.

And that also is an attitude. I remember how good it feels to write, to finish what I write, and to get my writing out for readers to read.

So I am approaching this challenge with attitude.

And I’m going to have a blast.


Totals For Year 3, Month 11, Day 27

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,013

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 66,600 words  

— Nonfiction: 500 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,400 words 

— Blog Posts: 1,000 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 18,300 words

— E-mail: 32 e-mails. Approx. 2,900 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 442 e-mails. Approx. 29,300 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers


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  • Leszek

    I don’t know how is that possible, but for the last three months or so, almost every substantial topic of the night has happened to be an answer to a question or a doubt I had the very same day. Now once or twice, I would understand, but three months??? It’s kinda creepy, it’s starting to freak me out! 🙂
    Chances are:
    1. You and Kris are meant to be my mentors 😉
    2. I think too god damn much 😀

    Now no. 2 seems to be more accurate, because I still write too god damn little 😀 Anyway, great job Dean, say “Hi” to your wife from me and keep going! I’m holding my thumbs for your challenge (holding thumbs is a Polish equivalent to keeping fingers crossed) 😉

  • Leah Cutter

    Couldn’t agree with you more that attitude is everything. It’s one of the reasons why I’m so careful with my language around the writing. I never “have” to go write. I always “get” to go write. It’s a single word and expresses an entirely different attitude. I get to go write. I get to go play now. And speaking of which… (^_^)

  • Anonymous

    This is exciting, Dean! Like Leszek, I was happy to read this post today. I’ve been in a down place with my writing.

  • Martin L. Shoemaker

    A few years ago, just to make use of my two-hour daily commute, I started dictating a story as I drove. That first dictated story sold to Analog (and later to Year’s Best Science Fiction). So now and then, I would dictate another.

    This spring, I made an observation: EVERY story I had sold in the last three years was a dictated story. Not everything that was dictated sold, but everything that sold was dictated (including “Today I Am Paul”, my Nebula nominee: one hour dictating, two hours transcribing and tweaking the ending, and out it went). Yet somehow I still felt compelled to sit down at the keyboard and start projects, as if dictating wasn’t “normal”. And I asked myself what sort of idiot I was? If a process is working, do more of it!

    So last month I decided to stop being haphazard about it: if I get in my Jeep, I turn on the recorder. Unless there’s a traffic jam and I need local traffic coverage, if I’m in my Jeep, I’m dictating. If I don’t have a story idea in mind, I just come up with a character in a setting with a problem (gee, where did I learn that?), and I start talking.

    And it’s like story just keeps falling out of my mouth. The more I do it, the easier it gets. I’ve had to throttle back, because I can’t transcribe fast enough to keep up, but I’m dictating at least 8 hours a week, sometimes more. One of these stories has already sold, and I’ve got two more I’m pretty confident in. I started one idea last week that I thought might be a long short or a short novelette, but the idea keeps growing the longer I drive. I’m pretty sure it’s a novel at this point, much deeper and richer than I ever expected, and I can’t wait to find out how it turns out!

    Once upon a time, I was a skeptic. Now I know you’re right. If I just get out of my own way, story happens. Thanks!

    • dwsmith

      Exactly, Martin. Exactly. Lots of writers have dictated stories. Kevin J. Anderson does as one example. No right way, just your way that works for getting out of your own way.

    • Lisa

      I love the idea of dictating! I tried it a couple of time, though, and it felt very strange to be listening to my words, and my sentences were very – stilted? odd? I can’t quite put my finger on it. They were different from the sentences I typed.
      Did you find that your author voice when you typed was different from your author voice when you spoke (dictated)?
      Perhaps listening to audio books would help.
      Thank you for bringing this subject up. 🙂

  • Kim Iverson

    Good luck! Sounds fun.

    I think you’re rubbing off on me. My production has been going up compared to where it was. It took me just about 3 months (couple days less) to write a full length novel. Finished yesterday, started another today. (Mine average the 80K mark.) I’m extreeeeeemly happy that it took me so little time to write it. Especially since I only have 1 hr a day to write. That story was one I took on as a challenge because I knew it was gonna be tough. So that makes it even more fun for me. It’s nice to pop over here and see you going strong (however that means for that time).

  • Barton Karkut

    One weakness of the approach is the nature of its individual steps, specifically the yielding step. The approach assumes the audience’s attitude will change through learning of a new message, yet learning does not always result in persuasion. Much of the research concerning the influence of external factors on an individual’s attitude focuses on their applications to marketing strategies. Studies have been done that examine the factors surrounding the sender of the message, the channel and the recipient. These have revealed that source credibility , communicator attractiveness, message context and mood all affect the attitude changes.