From about 1992 to 2010, I completed almost no stories. I came up with lots of ideas; ideas are lying all over the place. Being a 'writer', I dutifully built on many of these, often getting as far as two paragraphs deep before my drive petered out. More often, I just noted the idea down in a file.
In 2009, I was working as a consultant, without much to do between assignments. Defying decades of inertia, I sat down and wrote a complete story I felt pretty good about (“Barren Witness”, in another collection). I submitted it to Analog late in the year, got a form rejection, and let it go. Sometime the next year, though, I realized that with all this free time, I had the ideal opportunity to try taking writing seriously. Accordingly, I sat down every morning at 7, and worked a full day writing. By 'full day', I mean 4-6 hours, and by 'writing', I mean futzing around for an hour or so trying find my muse (she's shy), and doing anything in front of the computer that was writing-related, but didn't involve actually writing anything. That's what I'd done for the previous two decades whenever I tried to write. To my surprise, I found that after that first hour, things started to flow – that tenacity will do a lot more for you than hope. During the next two months, I wrote or finished a host of stories. Many of them grew from discarded starts from the previous decades.