Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Is Your Writing Average?

I read an interesting article in a back issue of Writer's Digest the other day. I'm sorry I can't cite the specific source...I tore the page out, set it aside, and promptly lost it. If you know it, please post it and I'll do the same if I find it. (UPDATE: The article was from the Feb '10 issue of Writer's Digest and was called "There's No Such Thing as a Failed Story" by John Smolens. It was an "MFAInsider" feature.)

The article talked about writers being .200 hitters. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with baseball, a .200 hitter is one who gets a hit once for every five times at bat. It's a bit more complicated than that since a few types of at bats (walks, etc) are not counted, but you get the gist. Compare that with good hitters who usually hit around .300. Basically, if a player is a .200 hitter they better hope they are a great defensive player, have great speed, or know how to pitch.

But what the author was trying to tell us is that .200 is good for writers - in fact, it's really good if a few other factors are considered.

He contends that for every five stories we start, only one is worthy of finishing. I can see this. I've started a few stories that have stalled for one reason or another. Some of which I had high hopes for. There were other stories that I finished, but maybe should have abandoned. But, I would say one in five is true for this. I know it's hard for writers to give up on a story, or even article, but sometimes they are better in gestation than they are on paper.

Now that yo have a finished story, it will sell right? Not necessarily. According to this article, only one in five finished stories will be worthy enough to be published in a journal or magazine - worthy. What this tells me is that for every five stories I sent out, only one will really have a chance of finding a home and even then, it will be a long haul.

As a budding writer one thing I've realized is that writing the story is only half the work - selling it is the other half and often requires as much, if not more, than the writing itself.

So don't give up if you haven't achieved success yet. Stick with it, learn the craft, and success will follow. We've all heard stories of writers (and others) who were turned down numerous times before being accepted - Dr. Seuss, JK Rowling, and Colonel Sanders!

Happy Writings!

1 comment:

  1. So one in five stories you start are worthy of writing, and one in five that are worthy of writing end up being published. That means one in twenty-five you start should get published. Even though it is discouraging, it is probably true. I read a lot of blogs, and invariably I run across the statistic that the normal novelist will write 4-6 novels before being published. Those articles also mention that this is the reason so few authors never have a published novel. They typically give up after one or two books. Lucy, you got so writin' to do. Great post Al.