Friday Speak Out!: Reduce. Re-use. Recycle., guest post by Sioux Roslawski

Friday, January 11, 2013
That 3-R’ed mantra that works so well for aluminum cans and paper also works for writing. I’ll bet you didn’t know that, huh?

Reduce. With my plan you can reduce the number of topics you need to come up with. The number of submissions you can churn out increases exponentially if you simply follow my advice. (Okay, exponentially is a bit of an exaggeration. But the amount of stuff you send out will increase.)

Re-use. Take one writing idea and use it in a completely different way for another market. If you originally wrote it as a piece of nonfiction, put a twist to it and transform it into a fictional piece. If it started out as a humorous piece but there’s a call for a romance anthology, throw in some heaving bosoms and a chiseled Fabio-esque chest, and voila! You’ve got another submission to send out.

Recycle. Send your piece back into the submission cycle. Just because it was not accepted by a particular editor doesn’t mean it’s without merit. Perhaps the tone of your story was not right for that publication. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for a different magazine or collection.

A couple of years ago I got my head stuck in a sink. It happened after my workday was over, in a staff bathroom with a tiny sink equipped with an overly-large faucet. I had a haircutting appointment right after work and was trying to wash my hair so I could save the $5 shampooing fee my stylist regularly tried to trap me with. Writing a creative nonfiction story about the experience ended exactly how that afternoon ended: a scraped scalp and a valuable lesson learned. (Stop being so darned cheap!) It ended up getting published in Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Woman.

Later, a different anthology was being developed, and in the proposed title was “bad hair day” so I figured my stuck-in-the-sink story would be a perfect fit. Unfortunately, these were supposed to be fictional stories. I deliberately did not have my original story in front of me as I crafted a fabricated tale about that experience, nor did I even skim it to reacquaint myself with the experience, because I wanted this new piece to sound fresh and new, instead of becoming a mere rehashing. In the end of this story, a fire truck was called. Hunky firefighters broke down the door and smashed the sink. I got my picture taken with them. My little slice-of-life story became transformed into a totally new fictional story and ended up being published in that anthology by Mozark Press.

So with a new year beginning, banish that much-hated R word (rejection). Take what you might consider your writing “trash”—it’s been published already or it was rejected—and turn it into published treasure by reducing…reusing…and recycling.


Sioux Roslawski has been published in three (so far) Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as several Not Your Mother's Book collections. A third grade teacher with the Ferguson-Florissant School District, she is also one of the five founding members of the famed WWWP writing critique group. Her musings can be found at
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Margo Dill said...

I'm not sure if exciting things like getting my head stuck in a sink ever happen to me! LOL :) This is excellent advice, and one that we need to remember. I have a bad habit of sending it out once and forgetting about it or getting the rejection and doing nothing. Thanks!

Marcia Peterson said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Sioux. I wrote an article for WOW awhile back about how to reuse your work. If anyone wants to take your idea and run with it, they can check it out. ;)

Audrey said...

Thanks for sharing this bit of wisdom with us...I greatly appreciate it and you have made me think about a fresh approach to some old writing sitting in my folder. Again, thanks!

Cathy C. Hall said... got two stories and a couple publication credits and the sink got...clogged?

Doesn't seem quite fair. ;-) But great advice, Sioux!

Angela Mackintosh said...

It sounds like being cheap paid off for you. ;) I love the happy ending you put on your fictional story too. Great advice, Sioux!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--You have great hair, so you aren't driven to desperate measures when it comes to your hair stylist. However, if my pathetic tale reminds you to resend writing pieces, it's all worth it.

MP--You're welcome. And I'm going to check out your link in just a moment. Thanks.

Audrey--You're welcome. We all need all the reminders and the tips we can get.

Cathy-- I did NOT clog the sink! I thought you southern belles bent over backwards to be polite and civil. ;)

If only I DID end up with hunky firemen rescuing me, instead of ending up looking like Christopher Walken (with my hair slicked back). I would have been happy with the way it ended up.

Angela--At least this time it did. Thanks.

Val said...

Good to know. I'll dust off my once-sent wonders and commence to submitting.

I'm still waiting to see an "Ode to Crocs" with your byline. You know you've got one in you. Think of the marketing possibilities. I squawk, you squawk, we all squawk for comfortable Crocs!

Lynn said...

Great post and I'll have to remember the three Rs. Your hair story is 'hilhairious'!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Val--My daughter gasps in horror whenever she sees me in Crocs. She tried to get me to buy a "cute" pair of Crocs, Crocs that don't look too Croc-y, but I told her, "If you can't hose them off and put them right back on, I don't want them."

Lynn--Hilhairious? You're a clever wordsmith.

Mel Kinnel (@TizMellyMel) said...

This is such great advice. I would have never thought of re-using or recycling a story in the way you described. And your hair story was quite comical.

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