Our July Show Off Writing Contest is now closed for submissions. In the last seven days, thirty-two of you submitted your work, thirty-two of you let go. You conquered fear and put your work out there. It’s not easy, I know. But I’m glad you did it. If nothing else, it’s great practice.

In 2009, I began a novel. The novel fell apart, but one story in the middle stuck out. I always thought it would make a good short story. So about two months ago I started editing it. I edited and rewrote it for a month and a half. I got to that point where you’re so sick of a story that you feel like you’re sick of writing itself. But soon the story was as finished as it was going to be and I sent it off.

Almost three years after I wrote it, I submitted my story to five literary magazines.

Afterward, I wrote on Facebook, “Just submitted a short story to a few literary magazines. Yuck. It feels like dropping off your baby at a day care with thousands of other crying babies, run by underpaid workers who hate you.”


Photo by Eden Pictures

The unfortunate truth is that if you don’t submit you won’t improve as a writer. You’ll grow stagnant and bored and eventually you will give it up completely.

I like what my friend Brian said after my dramatic Facebook comment, “Don’t be a helicopter parent. Let your child grow up. If you did your job as a parent it will be just fine.”

Like every parent dropping their kid off at daycare for the first time, as a writer, you have to learn to let go of your baby.

Practice Being an Editor

Now the process begins. The judges get to read your wonderful stories, and just like editors do at literary magazines and publishing houses all over the world, we make decisions about who wins and who loses. It’s a tough responsibility to have.

Which is why every month we give you the chance to learn what it’s like. Thinking like an editor is good practice. It helps you look at your story objectively, to weigh its pros and cons over the other stories submitted.

Yesterday, we talked about creating uninhibited, writing like jazz. Today, you get to practice its counterpart, cold brained editing. Here’s how:


Today, read as many entries from the Show Off Writing Contest as you can. Then pick your favorite by clicking the “Like” button at the bottom right corner.
Your vote won’t affect the judges final decision, but it may give us a clue as to what you like. Mostly though, it will give you an insight into how to think like the editors who are reading your work.
Try to read at least four entries, and if you’re so inclined, start from the bottom so everybody isn’t reading the same thing.
Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).