Bad Advice

I am about to give you some bad advice. This advice is not what you should be doing. In fact, this system is so awful, I will openly admit I should not be doing it. But… I am doing it, and I intentionally think it is the best way for me right now to achieve my own goals as a writer. And it is Catherynne Valente’s fault. And Joyce Carol Oates’ fault.

I am trying to be a prolific writer. Prolific writers make me jealous because they are always doing something cool. They always seem to have something coming out and always seem to be experiencing positive career shifts despite the hutches and blotches and hysterics that constantly throw roadblocks in the writers path. Having something new to sell lifts the writer over crashes and burns and foots and mistakes. So, I set out to be more prolific. Its one of the reasons I don blog asmu h as I used to, and why my entries are fast and loose of late-because this is my writing time- and I’m honestly using my iPhone which makes some things a bit stranger in grammar and usage and autocorrect. Anyway, I’m trying to be more prolific an I’ve got a system that I think works for me, even if it is bad ad ice that no one should be doing and that will need to be abandoned one of these days when I get my goal achieved.

To be prolific, one must write a lot. A lot. It must also be good writing. Very good writing. One must also publish a lot.

My system since December has been this, for short fiction and I must again say that this is bad advice and he wrong way.

I write a short story, as quickly and cleanly as I can. I try to sit down in one sitting and finish the story. If I haven’t finished it in a couple days I set it aside and move on. I make it the best that I can inside that rushed timeframe. I send it out to market. If you are playing at home you are probably wondering why I wouldn’t set the story aside a while and look at it again later. To edit with fresh eyes. I do that later, if it the story didn’t sell. Which is to say I use the submissions process as a way of gauging whether o am at first draft or last draft. While the story is out I research and toy with other ideas and work on novels and other stories. I am trying to be ome the kind of writer who can produce a sale quality piece of fiction in a weekend. It is a process that is not natural to me, an edit-happy revision junky who prefers to rewrite the same thing a hundred times than to start a new draft. However I want to be prolific. I want to be the kind of writer who seems to have something about everything for anyone anywhere. I won’t get there unless I really get better at writing first drafts, which for me have always been excrement.

The thing that makes my advise bad is that I am using poor slush editors as my gauge eArly in the process and knocking out good markets before my story is good enough. When the story returns to me rejected, I will then edit it fast and hard and send it out again. Lather rinse repeat.

But it is working. I’m getting faster. My novels are still pretty slow, but slowly getting faster.

The other hinge I’m doing is making sure I Ty not to write standalone short stories disconnected from novels or other stories. I want whetting to connect in some meaningful way. That way I can connect everything in a book form. Fix ups and connected collections and nothing scattered.

I’m getting faster. I’m usig a bar system of short story production to get faster. I’m seeing the results in my fiction. My early drafts aregetting better and better. I’m producing stories at a brisk pace, even if they aren’t selling right away. I’m getting that backlog of stories built that will fuel the myth of a prolific writer.

Anyway, it’s bad advice to abuse slush editors that way, but it is also a great way to contain your own proclivity for over-editing.

And… Back to writing!

Ready… Set… GO!


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6 responses to “Bad Advice

  1. I have written short stories on my iPhone buts you can tell from this entry it is wise to edit things in a regular computer before sending anything out to the public. Things get… Interesting.


  2. Amy

    I love your bad advice. It's something I might even try myself at some point as an experiment. 🙂


  3. This is hardly bad advice… it's Heinlein's Rules for Writers more or less in a nut shell combined with Ray Bradbury's story a week (or day) advice.

    And it really can work 🙂

    good luck! Keep writing 🙂


  4. Mobi you are correct, but something to think about I'd how few of their stories, on average, have lasted compared to the number produced. Compare that to Michael Ondaatje who only hits home runs… I guess if your goal is to sell a lot of short stories it is good advice. But it is not sustainable and it is going to become detrimental to long term success if it eclipses my “real” work of scribbling eternalia.


  5. Just curious, but are you getting personal responses on the submissions or are you getting form rejections? I'm just curious what sort of feedback you're getting that's helping you determine what needs editing? I just bought an Alphasmart Neo in an attempt to basically do what you're doing here–create a greater collection of stories. Sounds like a good plan to me.


  6. Re: Shawn


    I consider a rejection an invitation to edit, regardless.

    It's actually bad advice, because I still send everything to the best marktet, first. Thus, do I knock out great markets right away.

    And, volume is not craft. If it doesn't serve the craft, volume is a fool's goal.


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