The Payoff to Writing Every Day: I Sold a Story Yesterday

Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. That is what writing every day is all about. Blockbuster writers like Stephen King offer this as advice, and it is probably the best advice you can find out there. In my own experience, the more I practice, the better I get at what I am practicing.

On September 25, I began the first draft of a new science fiction/baseball alternate history. Writing every day, I finished the first draft (7,700 words) on October 23, 2013. It took as long as it did because I stopped writing partway through the first draft to write the final draft of another story.

On October 24, I started the second draft of my science fiction/baseball alternate history. Writing every day, I finished the second draft (6,800 words) on November 2, 2013. My second drafts are what my beta-readers see, and I sent this one out for comments, which I got back quickly.

On November 5, I started the third draft of my science/fiction baseball alternate history. I decided to try to write the 3rd draft in two days, and I managed to do it, in part, because I wasn’t feeling well yesterday and stayed home from work. I finished the third draft (6,200 words) yesterday. I then proofread the story, read it aloud to identify any awkward flow, and, using Scrivener, produced a submission copy. I emailed the submission copy to the editor of the magazine I had in mind.

Yesterday afternoon, I heard from the editor: he was buying the story!

Set aside for a moment the spectacularly quick response on the sale. That is an outlier that no writer should really expect, although to me it indicates that the story was strong enough that the editor wanted to be sure to buy it on the spot. That was pretty cool.

The more remarkable thing, to me, was the fact that a story I started in late September was sold in early November.  Prior to this, unsolicited submissions of mine took several months from creation to sale, and sometimes, took many years through many submissions. If ever there was evidence needed of how writing every day–practice, practice, practice–pays off, I think this is it. I have never come close to selling an unsolicited story  a little over a month after the first words were written. That I did in this case, I credit largely to 2 things:

  1. Writing every day.
  2. Having very, very good beta-readers, whose opinions I trust.

I know I am beating this to death, but I want to emphasize once again that I don’t spend much more than 20-40 minutes writing every day. I can’t. I have a full time day job, and two young children at home. It doesn’t take much to write every day, and if you can make it work for you and stick with it, good things will happen.

Once the contracts are signed, I’ll have more to say about the story that I’ve sold and to which magazine I’ve sold it, but for now, let me just say I am very, very excited to have sold this particular story. I just love it!

4 thoughts on “The Payoff to Writing Every Day: I Sold a Story Yesterday

  1. Thats fantastic news! I’m sure you will let us know when you can, but I’m looking forward to hearing which market this is being published in.

    Do you have a standardized submission process? You seem to have a streamlined process on everything, so I have to wonder about that end of things. I am a huge fan of your processes (not to mention, your fiction is pretty solid too) and have tried to implement them as much as possible myself; they have definitely improved my output over the last few months and I’m finally getting near the regular output I’ve been aiming for (though my blog could defitiely use more attention still). I had to take the last month off from writing due to a move, but I’m back to finishing up a story that I’m looking to start shopping around as soon as I can. I want to aim high on where to sell it (I think, with a bit more fine tuning, it will turn out as a pretty decent little sci-fi thriller), but it will be my first shopped story and I’m drowning a bit.

    Do you use duotrope? Or do you have some other way that you pare down options/keep track of submissions?

  2. Kevin, thanks! These days my submission process is pretty simple. I have sold stories or articles to many of the major sf/f short fiction markets and so I generally know where I will send something. Then, too, I have sometimes discussed the piece in advance with the editor so they are expecting to see it. For most markets, I use their online submissions forms. For a few, I can submit directly to the editor.

    I think I take more time than I used to before submitting, to make sure I’ve got clean copy and that I’m not rushing a story out the door. Every story that I’ve submitted in the last year has gone through beta readers and subsequent revisions before I submit it. This helps enormously in terms of improving quality.

    I don’t use Duotrope, not because I don’t like it, but simply because I have my own system based a Google Spreadsheet. I made my Story Submission Tracker Google Spreadheet freely available to anyone else who wants to use it a while back. Feel free to grab a copy.

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