After several years of writing, submitting, and watching other writers and wannabes, I have come to realize the importance of these four rules for getting published in the short form. Since I’ve had over 50 short stories published, I feel confident that these hints will work for you:

  1. Write every day, or at least five or six days a week. Set aside a time, and apply the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair, and write. Aim for 1,000 words each day.
  2. Finish a huge majority of the stories you start. I have seen so many writers start lots of projects and never finish any of them. Of course, these stories will never see publication.
  3. Read every day. When you are a beginner, it does, in my opinion, help to read how-to books about writing, creativity and motivation. It’s better to learn about  point of view, for example, from a book than from the editor who rejects your manuscript because your POV is inconsistent and confusing. Read in the genre you wish to write in. And read in genres you plan never to write in. It’s all good for you.
  4. Submit every week. If you submit one piece each week, that equals fifty-two submissions a year! Of course, at first you will have to work up to a significant number of stories to submit. If you write every day, you will soon have enough. Aim to write one short story a week or at least every two weeks, and within a year, you will see major improvement in your writing and hopefully, some acceptances. If you get a rejection, immediately send that story out again. It can count for the one that week.

I admit, I used a critique group to help me meet the goal of writing at least one short story every two weeks for a few years. Having other people waiting for something to read from you is a great motivator. If you can’t join a group, at least find a critique partner or two. Try it. And let me know if it works for you.

The Writing Life

This should have been the first post about writing. Somehow it got moved from there to here. I wanted to give you a little background about my writing life.

I been writing since the early 1990s. I got published within a year or so by winning a short story contest put on by the Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper. My prize was having the story published in the newspaper and a luncheon with panel discussion about writing at a posh Fort Worth restaurant. This was sponsored yearly by the public library and the newspaper. I don’t remember how much the tickets cost, but I received two, so dragged my husband along. The story had to be no more than one thousand words, and I took one I’d already written and squeezed the excess words out of it and got it just under that mark. Even now, I know I could improve it by adding a few words. Thus I gave myself a writing hat.

But that’s not how it usually goes. Usually a story improves by deleting about 10% from your first draft. (But if I remember right, I had to squeeze out even more than 10% from that story.) This lesson, and many others I’ve learned along the way, I hope to share with you here. Since that first short story acceptance, I’ve had more than fifty others accepted and published. I’ve also had a novel published by a now-defunct small, independent publisher, and  I’m getting several more self-published in the next year or two.

I don’t think this makes me a fabulous expert, but I do know some things that are definitely true and helpful about getting published. So, if that’s your goal, stick around and join in the discussions by commenting. Argue with me—I won’t mind. Agree with me, tell me how you do things—I’ll love that.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask me about my writing life, ask away. I’ll be checking in every so often to comment on all the comments. I hope you’ll enjoy reading here as much as I know I will writing here.