Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Novel Two: Day Four

Another Rest Day…

(As a reminder, the overall monthly challenge is to write four novels and gain distance every week on my step count, starting the first week at an average of 11,000 steps per day.)

The Day Went Like This…

I made it up to WMG Publishing around two and talked with some writers there for a couple of hours. Then headed out for a walk to get my milage. And yes, again I got my 12,000 steps. (Exactly 12,058 by midnight, but I got them. (grin))

Then back to the WMG office to work on workshop stuff. Then the store, then home to nap and cook dinner.

I made it in here around 10 p.m. to do the workshop assignments and start the July workshops.

LAST CALL FOR THE JULY WORKSHOPS. THEY HAVE STARTED. Still time to jump in. List is up until tonight.

I got done with all the workshop stuff and some reading around 1 a.m., so very late. I knew that with all the workshop assignments, my writing was going to take a hit, and when I finally got started, it went even slower.

I wrote one session of 1,000 words in about an hour by 2 a.m. and then went and took another nap. Then I did another 1,100 word session by 3:30 a.m., then a break and another 800 words before I tossed in the towel.

I’m going to rest the eyes tomorrow by going and doing some picking after a meeting, so tomorrow night I’ll be back reading and writing. So I feel I am still on track.

However, the novel is really twisted. And the blue diamond is in the book as a major plot point.

2,900 words in 3 sessions. 


Since I will be at this all month long, I have always had it in my mind (not so much scheduled, but planned) that I would have rest days.

On the first book, with the push of starting up, I didn’t have any. I hit my 11,000 steps every day and over 6,000 words per day except on the last day when I ran out of book to write. First two days of the second novel started fine, but I had thought of taking most of Sunday away but decided Wednesday would be fine.

Turns out I couldn’t stay on pace until Wednesday, so took first reduced goal of one day on the steps, then reduced goal of half for two days on the writing.

Now I fully understand that my “rest” days are more than most writers can do given an entire day. I’m just glad I got 3,000 plus words a day, so now, on my novel pace, I am only one day behind. And on the first novel, I gained a day.

So the challenge is going fine on both the exercise and the novels. And I’m having fun. This new Mary Jo Assassin novel is really twisted, which is great fun. I got to keep writing to figure out what the heck happens. Not kidding. I have no clue.

And Kris finished reading Tombstone Canyon, the first book, and really liked it. Not hardly any nits either. Go figure.

So rest, if you are going to go for something like this, is critical. You don’t plan it, you expect it and don’t push into it too much and don’t be angry when you take it. All part of the process.


Novel #1…The Writing of TOMBSTONE CANYON: A Thunder Mountain Novel

 Challenge Day 1… Words written… 6,600.  Total so far… 6,600 words.
Challenge Day 2… Words written… 6,700.  Total so far… 13,300 words.
Challenge Day 3… Words written… 6,100.  Total so far… 19,400 words.
Challenge Day 4… Words written… 6,200.  Total so far… 25,600 words.
Challenge Day 5… Words written… 6,200.  Total so far…, 31,800 words.
Challenge Day 6… Words written… 6,100.  Total so far…, 37,900 words.
Challenge Day 7… Words written… 3,200.  Final Total…, 41,100 words. (Novel count is 38,000)


Challenge Novel #2


Novel #2…The Writing of DEATH TAKES A DIAMOND: A Mary Jo Assassin Novel

 Challenge Day 8… Words written… 6,400.  Total so far… 6,400 words.
 Challenge Day 9… Words written… 6,100.  Total so far… 12,500 words.
 Challenge Day 10… Words written… 3,200.  Total so far… 15,700 words.
 Challenge Day 11… Words written… 2,900.  Total written so far… 18,600 words.

The Day Breakdown

3 hours writing… 2,900 words
2 hours exercise plus normal movement… 12,100 steps
7 hours of work for workshops and meetings and such.

The rest television, cooking dinner, and so on. Plus 8 hours of sleep. Two 10 minute naps.


Days over 6,000 words… 8 of 11
Days over 11,000 steps… 10 of 11
Days over 12,000 steps… 3 of 4
26 hours of regular job work this week


Tracking Word Counts… July 11th, 2017
Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,392

— Daily Fiction: 2,900 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 59,700 words  
— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words
— Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 5,200 words
— E-mail: 43 e-mails.  Approx. 3,200 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 348 e-mails. Approx. 22,500 words



Last Call!!! All have openings at the moment. Information at

Any questions at all, feel free to write me. And if you are confused as to which workshop to take first, we have a full curriculum posted on its own page.

Class #1… July 11th … Depth #3: Research
Class #2… July 11th … Author Voice
Class #3… July 11th … Business
Class #4… July 11th … Endings
Class #5… July 11th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #6… July 11th … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #7… July 12th … Depth in Writing
Class #8… July 12th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #9… July 12th … Cliffhangers
Class #10… July 12th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #11… July 12th … How to Edit Your Own Work
Class #12… July 12th … Writing Fantasy


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  • JM6

    “And Kris finished reading Tombstone Canyon, the first book, and really liked it. Not hardly any nits either. Go figure.”

    I know you’re busy with this challenge and workshops and such, and I seem to recall you’ve talked about first readers before, but I have a question: how do you avoid writing FOR your first reader? If you know someone is going to read your story, the temptation is going to be there to shape the story so THAT PERSON will like it. Now, YOUR first reader reads and writes and edits in a very wide range of things, which helps a lot but, for the rest of us:

    Is there a risk that the story itself might be shaped by what that first reader likes to read? And how do you avoid that?

    • dwsmith

      JM6, just never allow a thought of another person or marketing or trends into your writing. The moment one of those thoughts appear, crush it like a poison spider. It is poison.

      No tricks, just don’t allow it. Period. This is why I say writing to market is so damn stupid. It brings other people and entire marketing into your writing and thus dumbs down and often destroys your own voice and your book.

      So fight it. Only way. Just never allow it.

      I have been known to just say aloud, “Get out!” and close my door, even though no one is there.

      And now my system works even better. My system at about 200 novels is that I no longer care what other people think. Could not give a hoot. All I care about it telling the best story I can do every time and them move on. Past that, it’s other people’s opinions and they have a right to them. I have a right to not care. (grin)

  • Leah Cutter

    Thank you so much for talking about the rest periods as well. Since I am so much healthier, I’m not taking rest days due to migraines anymore. Until, like today, I’ve run into a wall. Am resting today, writing a little but no physical work. I need to rest and recover before running like hell again.

  • allynh

    Rest! HA! That’s the point that people would miss. That “rest” for you means working overtime for somebody else.

    You are doing this challenge on top of doing what anyone else would consider working overtime.

    You have a different lexicon than most people. It’s like a friend I have, to him “Laundry” does not mean Laundry, and “Camping” does not mean Camping. He will go “Camping”, backpacking in steaks, salmon, cheeses, wine, etc… Where most people think of Camping as taking a skillet and a can of beans. HA!

  • Charmaine Tubbs Davis

    Hey, Dean. I’m so grateful for your common-headed, no nonsense advice over the years. I love how you can write a novel in a week. How do you get the ideas to come fast enough to keep the story clicking along on the page? Do I need to re-read Writing in the Dark again???

    • dwsmith

      The characters are living a story. I don’t direct anything. I just follow them and the story. So I don’t need any ideas.

      For me, it’s like being a passenger in the backseat of a car. I am always surprised when a character turns the car one way or another and I never know what direction is next or even why. So the question of where I get ideas makes no sense to me. I just don’t get “ideas.” I just write down what the characters are doing.

      I know, early on we all felt we needed to have “ideas” to write. Never crosses my mind now and hasn’t for decades.