success story

Recently, I was chatting with my writing friend Fiona and she reminded me of a golden rule for finding success as a writer – SUBMIT!

I’ve known this all along, of course, as you probably have too, but in the process of working on several full length works, my submissions to journals and competitions had dropped right off. I’d focussed almost exclusively on the creation of work, forgetting that it needed to go somewhere. Do the writing is the very first rule, but just as important is remembering to send it out. Having the courage to do so.

Fiona told me about a group of writers who devised the following golden rule for success.

At any one point in time, you should have 20 points worth of your work out in the world looking for good homes. That means SUBMITTED!

One point for each short piece submitted and eight points for each full length work.

When I was talking to my writing buddy Helena about instituting this rule for our writing group, she suggested we add three points for each grant/residency or other proposal. Yes, three points does seem a bit much, but those applications, especially the ones with imaginary budgets, are so odious that the three points we’d score dangles the necessary carrot to get it done.



1 point for each short piece

3 points for each grant/residency etc application

8 points for each full length work submitted to a potential publisher or agent.

20 points out in the world consistently is (apparently) the magic number to ensure success.


The day Fiona first mentioned this I had a pathetic total of one point. Since then, I’ve got it up to 12!

One other helpful tip I’ve remembered is that when you send your precious creative children out into the world, imagine that you are addressing them to “The Publishers who Love My Work”.

If they are returned to you unpublished, know that they’re stamped with “Not at this address!”. Give the returned piece a quick once over and send it straight back out to another opportunity, addressed to that publisher who totally gets you. You’ve got to keep up your points tally remember?

So who’s with me? Let’s get our 20 points magic happening. Come join me for the ride!


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