How Did You Do It?

css-inspiration-for-writers-2How Did You Do It? 

By Rory C. Keel

This is the number one question I’m asked when others learn that my story, The Challenge, was published in the recent edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul:Inspiration for Writers. 

There is no magic button

In trying to answer this question, I realized there is no one specific thing that will get a story published. There is no switch to flip or button to push that makes it happen, nor did I have an acquaintance or inside contact at Chicken Soup.

However, hard work along with a few of the following things can improve your chance of success.


To keep me from getting writer’s block, I have made it a practice to write in a journal everyday. I jot down simple things like a quote, a thought or a remembrance of something in the past. Many times I express an emotion and try to explain in words how I feel. The words in a journal don’t have to be profound, hilarious or novel worthy, but write something, anything.

Over time your journal becomes a vault of story materials.

Study the publication

I believe a crucial step in getting published in any market, is to know the market. If you desire to be published in Chicken Soup, read it, study the stories and notice how they are written.

Submit, Submit, Submit

Watch for story call outs. Many publications announce the type of stories they are seeking to publish. This is where the journal comes in handy. You may have story material already waiting to be expanded, worked or polished.

Early in my writing at a writer’s conference, I remember a publisher who said, “Ninety-five percent of those who want to be published begin writing, but only five percent finish and submit.”


Finally, sometimes it’s a matter of having good work at the right place at the right time.

The Partner


The Partner

“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.”                      — The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

 You’ve written a masterpiece. The words flowed from the halls of your brain to your fingers and the story unrolled in perfection. Every symbol, every metaphor, every description is as shiny as a new penny lying on the sidewalk in the sun.

But what difference does it make? You push “save” on your computer, close the lid and lock your brilliance in the dark innards of technology. At this point you might as well have written nothing.

Along comes your partner. This is not a person who helps you do anything. This partner is not in on the brain storming or character naming, has nothing to do with the plot or setting, but they are every bit as necessary as your dictionary. This partner is your reader.

Without a reader, what are we writing for? Without someone to travel to your created world so they can fall in love with your created people and hope with them, endure with them, work with them, cheer or weep with them, what do any of our words mean?

Don’t be afraid to share your work with your readers. Send those stories off to be published so others can appreciate and enjoy the same journey you went through to bring the story out into the world.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle