Fun Stuff,  On Writing,  publishing

Tip of the Week #57

The I’m Not Old Enough Excuse…

I was going to do a blog on this, then decided to make it a tip of the week. (For those who do not get the Tip of the Week on Teachable, this is what they are like.)

So then I got lazy and decided to just put this up on YouTube instead of doing a blog about it.

So here is Tip of the Week #57.

Warning to writers: It has the swear word “Practice” in it.



  • Gai

    Great video! Thanks for posting.
    Some writing advice mentioned that one probably shouldn’t even attempt a novel until they’re over 30 – not enough life experience otherwise. ha. It’s all according to the 30 year old in question, I guess.

    I keep trying to read Cussler, but he is just not to my taste at all. I’ve gotten literally halfway through four of his novels but haven’t been able to finish one. I find myself unable to care about what happens to DIrk Pitt.

    Why are your more recent videos in mono? I noticed this in the “How to Study” Workshop as well. Kinda gives me a headache after a while (I use earbuds). Just curious.

    • dwsmith

      Something we haven’t been able to figure out, actually, Gai. Moving to a new computer shortly, which might help.

    • Scott


      I, too, haven’t been able to crack the Dirk Pitt novels, but the historical novels of Detective Isaac Bell, co-written by Justin Scott (son of Leslie Scott who crafted lots of pulp westerns) are fantastic. Try reading them.

      Better yet: try listening to them. Scott Brick, narrator extraordinaire, reads all Cussler novels.


      • dwsmith

        Agree, the Isaac Bell stories are stunning, especially the first one with the train underwater on the cover. That was a real ride.

  • Gordon Horne

    Good video.

    Next week: “I’m too old.” Though it’s pretty much the same advice; stop making excuses and write.

    ETA The name and email fields of the comment form were prefilled with the information of someone I don’t know and not one of the previous commenters.

  • emmiD

    Well, Dean, I’m now a believer.

    Last year I struggled for months to finish a manuscript (and I did finish it. Published it on January 15). I blamed lots of things, lots of people, lots of the manuscript on my problem with finishing. I mean, I had to stop and research constantly. The story kept changing from my specific outline. (The changes were better, but still.) New characters jumped in, requiring additions in earlier parts of the story.

    In July I threw up my hands and claimed a break by taking your Depth class. I could SEE my writing changing—so more going back and fixing was needed.

    By November, after spending over a year glomming yours and Kris’s blogs and YouTube videos and taking some courses, I decided to trash the outline, get off the dang laptop, and just write the story long-hand: you know, the way I did when I was just starting to write.

    You took me to task weeks and weeks ago, when I said you were a longtime pro who had internalized much of the process of storytelling. Nope, you basically said; we’ve been internalizing story since we were kids listening to our parents read stories to us.

    And then I finally paid attention to something else you said, about turning off the critical editor and letting the intuitive muse speak to us.

    The result?

    I wrote more in November and December than I did the whole of last year. It’s a better story than that dang multi-page outline would have been.

    So, I decided to do it again. I would write the next book, with only a tagline and the barest of ideas about character and plot. I would outline—as you’ve also said—after each chapter, to keep up with my red herrings and clues to the murderer.

    I’m one chapter from finishing that book. Started it Jan 10. Haven’t written every day. I’ve got a low estimate of 50,000 words.

    Because I finally “heard” what you’ve been saying.

    Yep, I’m slow. Nowhere near the brightest bulb anywhere in the house.

    THANK YOU. Maybe I’ll finally hear more of those lessons.

    • dwsmith

      emmiD, congrats!! Well done on learning how to have fun and just let the characters go play. Fantastic and thanks for the kind words.

      Keep having fun. That really is such a simple secret to all this, but it is the secret.


    • Harvey Stanbrough

      emmiD, another thing I first heard from Dean is that every novel writes differently. I’m in the middle of one right now that requires a lot of little niggling research. You know, jump out of the book for a minute, run to the internet to find a list of names typical to a particular country or see a typical house in a given area, etc. Then back to the story. It makes for slower going, but adds a little extra authenticity.

      Of course, I prefer the stories that don’t require those little forays into research, but it’s the characters’ story. I’m only the recorder, so I do what they say. (grin)

      • emmiD

        That is certainly true about every book writing differently. Thank you for the reminder.

        I had never encountered last year’s problem before. The research was definitely interrupting the story. I was into Baker and Farragutt and another that I can’t currently recall, Reconnaissance for Wellington and French army ranks under Napoleon, Basque and Spanish languages, knife fights, and flora and fauna of northern Spain. Interesting but continually breaking the flow.

        i knew that book would be hard going in. Lots of research. More action than is usual in my mysteries.

        Knowing the book would be hard, I decided to do that detailed outline, focusing on plot structure so I would stay on track and keep the pacing going and the primary characters balanced. See, I bought into several myths and didn’t realize it until Dean corrected me in that response.

        And when I started writing, I bogged down from page 2 on.

        That’s when I finally ran into something Dean said about critical vs intuitive voice. i think it was in the Originality Workshop on YouTube, and since then I’ve seen it several other places–which means I was blind to it for over a year. I know that I heard him say it before; finally it clicked.

        I am so very slow to catch on.

    • Scott


      I like to joke that it took me longer NOT to write my second novel (7 years between first and second) than it did to write my first (actual 8 months). But then, when I actually sat down to write that second book, it took my way less time (6 weeks) to write it than it took me to write my first.

      I am a growing convert to Dean’s writing into the dark way of crafting a story. And I’ve barely looked back. It’s liberating.


      • dwsmith

        Liberating is the word. Not sure why every myth about writing has developed to stop writers and make writing no fun and more difficult, but that is the way it has gone. Not sure what the myth creators were so worried about. (grin)

      • emmiD

        Me too. He’s right: it’s the fun way. The way I wrote when I first started. Then those dang myths grabbed me.

  • Scott


    Boy did this video come to me at the right time. I’m in the process of creating my own website so I can sell my books (and, eventually, those of others) direct to consumers. But I began doubting the validity of doing so…

    Shook that off with this video, specifically your comment: “Don’t let yourself say you can’t do that because you haven’t done it yet.”

    To date, my favorite blog post of 2019 is your “No One Cares” one. I’ve already referenced it in my “Year of an Indie Writer” series of blog posts. Twice actually. Now, this is the video of Feb 2019.

    Thanks for your daily updates.

    • dwsmith

      More than welcome, Scott. And yup, the most liberating thing is that no one really cares, no matter how much we all think they will. Nope. That leaves us all free to do what we want and have fun.