Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

One Last Week

Historically I Find This Week Productive…

I hope you all do as well. If nothing else, set yourself up for the coming year. Look back at the past year, set some goals, streaks, or word counts for the coming year.

2022 was one of my worst writing years in my memory, in large part from not being able to write these last 2.5 months because of the eye injury. I’m going to set a daily goal, very small for me, to get back to it starting on the first. But no big challenges or goals for 2023 to start the year.

I may change that in March or July 1st as the injury improves. (grin)

So my focus in the next 7 weeks is exercise and losing weight. Got a half marathon coming up in the middle of February.

Also have some fantastic new writing classes starting up in January. The Decade Ahead, after three years fires up as a weekly, every Monday advice on building a career that will last for a decade or more. (It is up now at

The 2023 Collection Classes are Up as well. Those are always fun.

Also starting a Monday class called “Bite-Sized Copyright.” I’ll explain more later in the week, when that launches.

And also launching in January the Advanced Craft workshops. They are not up yet, but will be in a few days. So great fun this coming year.

So I hope you all use this gift of a week to get ready for 2023. And finish off the year strong.


  • Philip

    Dean, as I plan my writing goals for 2023, I think I’ve finally heard something from Critical Voice that is truly compelling. You see, I read widely–all genres, including even some classics and so-called literary. But when it comes to writing, not reading, the only story ideas that truly get me going, truly are fun as heck to write, are those that are downright weird of defy genre. As much as I hate the term, they’d likely fit into the catch-all category of Literary or General Fiction, though some would fit in horror and spec fiction sub genre of Weird Fiction. Others are like David Lynch movies.

    I wanted to do a story a week challenge for these types of stories but Critical Voice tells me none of your advice applies–don’t bother publishing these because the market is too narrow or non existent.

    Is this finally the case where the Critical Voice is correct? Should I even bother publishing “non commercial”/”experimental” stories?

    I’m stumped.

    • dwsmith

      Philip, you are really searching hard for reasons to not write. When you bring market into any creative decision, you are doomed. Write what you want to write, worry about marketing them after they are done. You have no way of knowing what will be or is popular now or in one year or five years. When you listen to critical voice for anything, you are failing and not writing. Really is that simple, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise.

  • Bryan Rivera-Rivera

    Dean, I’m glad I’ve been familiarizing myself with the single draft philosophy, trusting in that creative well and instead of (probably) wrong logic. I wrote my first novel the “traditional” way, buried in the myths. While I don’t believe it came out bad at all, and I’ll defend it until I die, the notion of Heinlein’s Rules is a breath of fresh air. Neil Gaiman says something similar, as well as Lee Child.

    I’ll be writing the next two or three books this coming year using cycling and believing in my first instincts.

    Just wanted to say thank you, and that you’re helping those of us just breaking into the game.

      • Jason

        Just want to echo Bryan’s thoughts. I recently finished my first short story where I committed to cycling, and I’m really thrilled with the results. I’m going to send it out January 1st as my first submission of the new year.

        My resolution is commit, at least for the first half of the year, to cycling as many stories as I can. I want to get some practice with the technique before I embark on a novel (really wish I had written the novel I wrote last year using this technique…). I’m looking forward to seeing what new ideas I come up with.

        I’ve enjoyed your classes very much. Thank you for putting them together!

        • dwsmith

          Thanks, Jason. Amazing how doing that keeps the creative voice in play all the way through. Then the key is when finished, leave it alone and move on to the next story.

          And there is no difference between a novel and a short story. One is just longer is all. So stop making a novel important. That brings in critical voice.