Show Your Work: How I Finally Got Published in McSweeney’s

Here’s how I got into McSweeney’s:

1. I submitted about 10 pieces over the last 10 years.

2. I joined a group of comedy writers and saw other people getting acceptances.

3. I decided to try again. I read craft books like How to Write Funny to get better at humor and read some of The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency to get the voice of the publication in my head.

4. I watched HGTV House Hunters and wondered why I hate that show so much.

5. I realized it was ripe for satire.

6. I wrote about it in my morning pages and came up with the concept for the piece, based on the hyperbole of the worst people on the show, who say things that literal refugee would say. Only they say it about million dollar homes.

7. I wrote word lists and looked up synonyms on Onelook’s reverse dictionary, which is my favorite brainstorming tool.

8. I made myself write out about 100 phrases that could be in the piece.

9. I made a table analyzing the phrases from either side to really make sure I understood the logic and the subtext.

10. I workshopped it, selected my favorite 12 sentences, and submitted.

All this took about a month. Overall I learned that I can get something done with one focused effort in a month that I’ve been trying to do for 10 years.

Best books to read for getting published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:

How to Write Funny

The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency


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