Happy New Year! I know I’m a week late to the party, but I’m finally feeling like getting started, so better late, right?
A new year, a new project
I have an exciting new project for this year inspired by a tweet from Julie Reeser (@abetterjulie) asking about end of year processing and planning. She got me thinking about planning. I’ve been in survival mode for a very long time and though I’m glad that keeps me in the moment, it has kept me from making plans.
Julie’s tweet got me thinking about the many times I have happened upon a submission that excited me only to find out the deadline had just passed or was hours from closing. I don’t want to live on the edge of submission deadlines anymore. I want to plan ahead and have the time to submit my best work to reach my publication goals. To this end, I am starting a quarterly daily planner with writers who are submitting short stories and poetry while writing novels specifically in mind. As in me and hopefully you.
My original goal was to have the first quarter (January – March) planner available to download already, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense because this is really an experiment in what actually works to motivate me to get stories submitted, rejected, revised, (submitted, rejected, submitted) x infinity, rejected and finally accepted. It’s the multiplication part I appear to have a problem with and hope to overcome.
One of the ideas that has inspired me to submit more–work harder toward rejection–is the lovely goal of reaching 100 rejections in a year. On the surface, that sounds pretty crazy: I would have to write 100 stories in a year? No. Having that many drafts by the end of the year would be awesome! But I don’t think I would have time to do anything else, and I have other stuff to do. I wouldn’t send the same story off to be rejected from 100 different editors either. However, in a combination of daily submission goals for stories I have written and stories I will write along with poetry submissions, contest entries and a grant submission or two, I might be able to reach that goal of 100 rejections along with a pile of acceptance letters. That’s the joy of the idea. If you look for 100 rejection letters, you may have to work harder because of the people who start saying yes. It’s a great form of reverse psychology as long as your actual goal is to publish and not to accumulate rejection letters.
I also have a novel manuscript that I am fine-tuning to submit. I want to create a planner that inspires all types of writing submissions, rejections, editing, and re-submitting.
If my planner design helps motivate me, I hope to have created a tried and true planner for 2020 to inspire all writers by the end of the year.
So far, I’m approaching the project (and the design) like organizers say to approach any project: Large goals, broken into smaller goals, broken into small, achievable goals.
Planners don’t work for me if I waste time filling in my planner, so I want the important stuff to take very little time. The point to creating this is to inform. I want to know at the beginning of the quarter of the year what stories I’m submitting and who to send them to, by name. I don’t want to waste days researching them when it should be at my fingertips. It’s aggravating to me when I have to spend an entire day, or a week, trying to figure out who to address my cover letter to. It shouldn’t ever be that hard, especially when you’ve cared to do the research. My idea, is to include a magazine for each day of the planner, as an idea for one of each day’s submission.
An area that I’m still contemplating is contests. I have heard that contests can be important, but looking through the wonderful poets and writers calendar, it turns out most of them cost money. I think I can add one or two contests to my budget each month, especially if the judges provide feedback.
January Submission Goals
These are the submissions I will put on my January 2019 goals:
1/15 Outlook Springs end submission period
1/15 The Dallas Review end submission period
1/24 Sixfold contest $5
1/31 Nelson Algren Short Story award
1/31 Dark Regions contest “Possession”
This short list is a great reminder why it’s important to plan ahead. I have stories I can send to Outlook Springs, The Dallas Review and Sixfold, but I need to read past issues and find the story that fits best. For the Nelson Algren award, I want to get familiar with Algren’s work. Because I planned ahead, I was able to put his book, The Neon Wilderness, on hold at my local library and am already becoming familiar with his work. For the Dark Regions contest, I’m writing an original story. Finding the right story to match a call for submissions, and writing a news story all take time, so planning three months in advance is my goal, but one month will have to do for now.
I have also started a list of magazines to write overviews for and add to the daily submissions goals. I’m finding submissions information from:
and interesting things I see on Twitter
Books, Books, Books
Every writer has to read, a lot. Over the last few years I have been reading like a starving monster, consuming anything that gets in my path. Though there’s nothing wrong with that, I noticed that my reading goals list on Goodreads was pretty much ignored last year and I transferred most of it to this year. To remedy this, I’ve decided to add a reading section to my planner that includes at least two fiction novels, fiction short story collections, poetry collections and non-fiction books per month.
Here are January’s reading goals:
Fiction novels: Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd, The Outsider: A Novel by Stephen King
Fiction short story: The Neon Wilderness by Nelson Algren, America’s Emerging Writers (I finally got my paperback and I’m enjoying reading everyone else’s stories. Yay!)
Poetry: The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limon, Selected Poems (William Carlos Williams)
Non-Fiction: The Philippines: A Singular And A Plural Place, Fourth Edition (Nations of the Modern World) by David Joel Steinberg, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby
If you have suggestions for what I should include in planner, I would love to hear from you. I hope you will join me in my experiment to plan ahead.
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Sounds like you’re on you way to figuring out a system. I have a file of index cards for each venue, labeled by pay. My goal is to make SFWA associate, so that requires publication in certain magazines to achieve. Then, I have an index card for each story. I paperclip them in the order I want to submit and order of open dates. Some markets don’t have regular times they’re open, which can be frustrating! Anyway, good luck. It’ll be fun to see how it goes!
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