In this blog, I talk about mathematics, writing, intelligence and genius - and why the general public should tolerate them more.

today, writing. And why a writer should keep a small pool of outstanding finished work to send to publishers, as well as a collection of works in progress.

I have recently begun to see my works in publication in some magazines. Small stuff, at first; but then I do hope for a larger commission some time, which will garner more attention and lead to something big, such as a successful submission of a novel.

If you know that the magazine comes out regularly, you'll also become aware that the editor probably has his hands full on a monthly basis just getting articles to fill that mag each week. Editors want variety, substance and brevity in the articles they receive, because that means circulation and a readership kept fresh and wanting more. It doesn't pay to go stale in the market.

The occasional submission works just fine: but every editor just desperately wants somebody who will turn out good quality work, on time and to word count. Every time. Those who have a proven track record of reliability and quality, say over a three, four or six month period, they offer the job of columnist to. And that can lead to a much more lucrative pay check at the end of the month, providing you can keep up the pace.

And here we come to the crux of this post: building up your own pool of works in progress.

Let's say you have a fraught month one time. You have more than your share of calamity and people stressing you out from all angles. This month, you won't have time to write anything good for the editor - or indeed, write very much at all.

Imagine the joy of having an article in a pool, maybe one you wrote three weeks ago so it feels fresh and topical, or maybe a more solid one you wrote earlier, with a timeless quality that affirms the magazine's mission. Rather than try and write more than a bare bones outline for the article this month, send the editor the one from the pool. Hopefully, it will pass muster for this month.

If it does, good. You just earned more than just the cash you get from writing: you earn yourself breathing room for week or two, long enough for you to resolve your problems and put pen back to paper, or maybe hit the keys.

Treat your pool of WIP as a sustainable forest. For every one tree you harvest and send off to the lumber yard, plant two. Keep it going until you have a decent body of articles in reserve. They will serve as your bread and butter, and give you the free time to concentrate for a few weeks on the projects you want to work on.

Keep variety in mind when writing, too. One day the editor might desperately want something relating to a new product just out on the market. If you have something that sounds or feels like the kind of item he or she wants, you can dig it out, look at it to see what kinds of tweaks it will need to bring it into line with the new product, maybe get some sort of guidelines from the new product's manufacturer or the book's author, and send that off to the editor. You'll already have done all the quantity work: you only need to edit to get the quality right.

If nothing else, at least with a pool of work you can pick and choose what you send off to the editors, and what you write and send to other editors as "showpiece" writing. As long as you realise that some months, you have no choice but to replenish that pool of articles, setting aside your more pleasant work and getting down to the grind, just to keep the volume of articles sustainably high, you ought to do all right.

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"And if we have unearned luck, now to scape the serpent's tongue, we will make amends ere long. Else the Puck a liar call ..."

So speak.