As an active member of the Writers of the Future Forums, newcoming writers are always flooding in to share and learn. I, too, was one of them long ago, wondering when my next story would sell or win. However, I notice a lot of them are doing the same mistakes I used to.
So, since I'm not a pro writer giving pro tips, here's a rookie writer giving rookie tips.
1. Submit Early, Submit Often - I often finish off a story and send it out to publishers as soon as I could. The more I sat around not having it working, the more I wanted to work with it. There are times when touching it up can ruin a story. Get it out there so it has the most potential to get sold. No one sells a story sitting on their flash drive.
2. No Limits - Okay, so the publisher says "We like dark fantasy" and you have this great fantasy work you want to submit. What do you do? Submit it. It may not be dark, but one of two things can happen. Either your story will wow them enough they will overlook their conceptions and buy your story or they may like your writing talent, but want something more to what the market is targeted for. In either case, you will get the "send us more of your work" response, urging you to submit to them.
3. Set Goals - I set a goal for myself to have 25 stories out to market at one time. I also set a goal to receive 100 rejections or to sell a story this year. 8 days left in the year and no story sold yet, but I do have 100 rejections and had 25 stories out to market. It pushed me to write better stories and to write a lot of stories. Trust me, it may do you good in the new year to set those kinds of resolutions.
4. It's All in the Timing - Okay, you want to know "When should I revise a story?" The answer: When you feel like it. But, don't do it every day or after every rejection. You may end up revising it way too much then. The best advice I give is to revise when you feel the stories you are writing are better than the stories you have out at market. Then, go back and see if you can rework the story. If you still think it's not half bad, stop. You can only make it worse. Go back to it when you say, "My God, no wonder the slush readers couldn't get through it." The difference between the two can save you time.
5. Write to Live - Yes, I know, it's corny. But, follow Asimov's addage: "I write for the same reason I breathe. If I didn't, I would die." That's the kind of drafting you need to do. I'm not saying let writing take over your life. I'm saying write when you have the time to write. And, if you don't have the time, make the time. I'm writing this at 3 in the morning because this is my creative time for that very reason.
6. Jot it Down - We've all been there. Working on the job, taking care of the kids, driving somewhere, shopping, when suddenly, BAM, the greatest story idea comes into your mind. If you have the opportunity, that's the time to jot everything you get in your mind about it down. Character development, themes, ending, and everything inbetween. Then, when you get back home, you can recall that vision and start the drafting process. There have been times I've stopped watching TV mid-show to get writing. Didn't care about the ending of the show, just about how the story was going to end.