Apparently, I have a reputation for having a lot of stories in the mail. I find that amusing. It’s funny to me because by my criteria, I don’t have many in the mail at all. By my criteria, I’m far short of what I need to have a sustainable lifestyle as a writer. In other words, “a lot” is relative. Mary Soon Lee is reported to have 200 in the mail at any one moment. I don’t know. I’ve never talked to her. I have talked to several others who have many stories in the mail all the time. Some number in the hundreds.
Occasionally, I have hit 100 in the mail. Normally, I have between 20 and 60 in the mail.
There are a lot of reasons for this, and I’ll cover them in another article. For this one, I’ll just explain the how of it. It is a very simple discipline. If you start from a dead 0, it takes a year or two to get that many out there. The fundamental truth that makes it possible is this:
You can write faster than editors read their slush.
Yup. Average rejection time on a short story in the United States Mail is about two months (including email submissions, which generally get returned a lot faster).
So, here’s the program:
- Week One Monday: Start a short story.
- Week One Sunday: Finish composing a short story and set it aside.
- Week Two Monday: Start a short story.
- Week Two Saturday: Revise last week’s short story (almost two weeks fallow).
- Week Two Sunday: Finish week two’s short story composition.
- Week Three Monday: Put week one’s story in the mail, start week three story.
- Week Three Saturday: Revise week two story.
- Week Three Sunday: Finish week three story.
- Week Four Monday: Mail week two story.
- Repeat for 104 weeks.
Can you do this? Yes. The obstacles are not effort oriented. The obstacles to achieving this result are generally lifestyle oriented. Often, they are problems between the ears: fear of failure or success (change), false beliefs about identity and acceptance or rejection, anxiety over self-worth tied up in creative effort. Practice isolating the demons and taming them, and the ability to practice production and deliver will appear.
Originally published by the author via CyberScrybe, Inc. Re-posted with author’s permission.
About the Author:
Award-winning writer Eric Witchey’s background in theoretical linguistics, course development, and creative writing combine with over 27 years of full-time freelance experience to allow him to distill nebulous concepts normally attributed to talent or internalized through years of trial-and-error into clear, executable techniques writers can begin to practice immediately. These techniques have been tested in the marketplace, and he has sold 2 collections, 5 novels, and 150 short stories. His stories have appeared under several names, in multiple languages, and on 6 continents. Using the techniques he teaches, he has garnered many awards and accolades, including recognition from Writer’s of the Future, New Century Writers, Short Story America, the International Book Awards, the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Irish Aeon Awards, Writer’s Digest Awards, the Eric Hoffer Prose Awards, and a number of other organizations. His fiction how-to articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest, The Writer Magazine, and other print and online sources.
More from Eric Witchey:
Every year, I go to a group of cabins in the mountains on the banks of the Mackenzie River here in Oregon for Ghost Story Weekend. We set the goal of starting Friday night and having at least one story ready to read out loud on Saturday night. Most years,…
Award-winning writer Eric Witchey’s background in theoretical linguistics, course development, and creative writing combine with over 27 years of full-time freelance experience to allow him to distill nebulous concepts normally attributed to talent or internalized through years of trial-and-error into clear, executable techniques writers can begin to practice immediately. These techniques…
We had so much fun talking with Eric about many things, but especially about his new novel Bull’s Labyrinth. (Eric reads the whole first chapter—so, so good!) In this episode of Sentence to Paragraph, author Eric Witchey talks about tackling duel POV, the long road to publication, the absurdity of…