Maybe you’ve had a killer case of writer’s block, or you’ve been burning the midnight oil taking care of work or family. Now that it’s time to send out writing submissions, you’re coming up empty. Rather than miss out on all the publishing opportunities available, the wickedly clever submissions experts at Writer’s Relief have some advice: Visit the graveyard of your old writing! Your buried, unfinished projects or old submissions—those you’ve already sent around but that didn’t get any “takers”—might just garner your next acceptance letter. Here’s how to effectively bring your old writing back from the dead and breathe new life into your acceptance rate.
Bring Your Old Writing Back From The Dead
Unwrap the mummies. Check your computer files or desk drawers for short stories you couldn’t quite wrap up, a book manuscript that suffered from your writer’s block, or poems that had verses you couldn’t stitch together. Back when you first were working on these old projects, you may have become disappointed or irritated when you couldn’t complete the work and reached a dead end. You got to the point where it was easy to see everything as wrong and lose track of what’s right.
Now that some time has passed, consider circling back to these unfinished pieces. The answer to the problem you were stuck on may now be crystal clear when you look at the work with fresh eyes.
Keep what you love from your old projects, whether it’s characters from a novel or story or a couplet from a poem. Discard what no longer suits your new direction. Then rewrite the plot to suit the characters you’re keeping or restructure the poem to fit the lines you want to save. Let the best parts of your old work be an anchor and write new content to support it! You will create a piece of writing that is alive and new.
Revive what seemed dead in the water. After receiving several rejections, it’s easy to give up on that piece. Certainly, getting multiple rejections for the same book manuscript, short story, or poem could mean you need to consider making revisions. But if you take a look at the actual number of rejections you received, did you really send the work to a sufficient number of editors or agents? At Writer’s Relief, we advise our clients to submit a piece 100 times before giving up! Getting published can be a numbers game—it’s not always a reflection on the quality of your writing.
If you previously submitted your novel, short story, or poem to barely three publications or literary agencies and then gave up, it’s time to get to work on sending submissions to the remaining ninety-seven waiting to see your work! Remember: Writing that is old to you will be totally new to the editors and agents who haven’t seen it yet. A work that didn’t connect with an agent or editor at some point in history might simply have been sent out at the wrong time; trends and submission guidelines are constantly changing.
Getting some rejections is part of the process, but if you get too many you may need to take another look at your original manuscript. Think critically about it—you don’t want to read more into the rejections than what is actually there.
Use the feedback you received from any rejections to deconstruct and improve your work. Consider any critique from an unemotional point of view to determine which criticism is constructive and helpful, and which comments aren’t beneficial to your work or your vision.
It’s alive! And worth resubmitting!
Don’t get spooked by the thought of resubmitting or rewriting your old short stories, poetry, or book manuscript. Remember: Those works aren’t doing anyone any good buried in your desk or on your hard drive!
If the thought of spending hours researching to find the right places for your work—and just as important, eliminating all the markets that aren’t right—sends shivers down your spine, the submission strategy experts at Writer’s Relief can help! Since 1994, we’ve been helping writers boost their odds of getting published by getting their work into the right hands at the right time. Learn more and submit your work to our Review Board today!
Question: Where do you keep your old writing?