Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Quality, Not Quantity

I have a word document with a big list of magazines, competitions and anthologies I want to sub to, all with deadlines. I've had a bit of a string of rejections over the last few months. I keep thinking 'Oh no, I have to write something for this publication - the dead line is in a week!' But hang on a minute. I think I've lost focus a little bit.

I keep thinking 'This is my only chance to submit to this...', but that's simply not true. With a lot of contests, there's always next year. With a lot of magazines, there's always next issue. I've been rushing myself, thinking that if I'm not subbing then I'm procrastinating - but what about the middle ground?

So it's time for a new approach. I'm going to pick a few places to sub to and focus on the stories for those. I have two in mind right now. The rest can wait. There's no rush.

4 comments:

  1. I hope you won't mind if I disagree with you. The first problem with waiting and not rushing is that pretty soon you will end up not doing any subbing at all

    The second, more serious, problem is that you'll end up focusing on rewriting and rewriting the same few stories. You won't learn anything by doing that. You only really learn by writing fresh stuff all the time. That's why constant writing and subbing is the best way.

    By all means, have a few stories that you're especially pleased with and steadily sub them to the bigger markets, but all the time you're doing that you're better off also subbing lesser stories and flashes. It's also good for morale when you get a few hits.

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  2. I have thought of starting a business where I submit stories for authors. Trouble is writers have no money, but personally I know the pain, not of rejection but of getting stories ready for submission in the first place.

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  3. Hi Tom, by all means disagree with me! It's great to hear others' views.

    The method you described may work for some, but it's not really working for me. Subbing to lots of things conversely meant that I was so overwhelmed with deadlines that I ended up subbing to nothing. Setting myself a few goals would actually mean I am subbing more.

    Also, I disagree that I won't learn anything from going over old stories. On the contrary. I learn an awful lot from re-writing my stories. Of course, something new has to be produced at some point, but I don't think it is productive to churn out as many stories as possible without stopping to reflect on them and re-write some of them.

    Why am I better off subbing my 'lesser stories' to smaller markets? If it is only for morale, I think I'd rather focus on my best stories and push them as far as I can. I would rather have one or two big hits than a huge string of minor ones - although I seem to be accumulating the latter rather than the former.

    Thanks for stopping by the blog.

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  4. Well, you have to do what works for you in the end, don't you?

    Subbing doesn't necessarily have to mean working to deadlines: it's mostly the comps that have deadlines. Ordinary ezines and journals are mostly ongoing submissions.

    Also, I disagree that I won't learn anything from going over old stories. On the contrary. I learn an awful lot from re-writing my stories. Of course, something new has to be produced at some point, but I don't think it is productive to churn out as many stories as possible without stopping to reflect on them and re-write some of them.
    I suspect the answer is somewhere between our two positions. I don't do enough re-writing, that's for sure, so you are right about that. But I do reckon that, for aspiring writers like us, the vast majority of our writing time would be more usefully taken up with writing new stuff. That way you're always making new mistakes which you can spot and correct, instead of just correcting the same ones over and over.

    Why am I better off subbing my 'lesser stories' to smaller markets? If it is only for morale, I think I'd rather focus on my best stories and push them as far as I can. I would rather have one or two big hits than a huge string of minor ones

    Again, I probably go to the extreme, but in the early stages of a writing career I just think it's good to get stuff out there. The chances of getting big hits early on are quite remote, to be honest, so work your way up is my philosophy.

    It works for me, but as I said, we all have to find what works for us.

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