The Planner Experiment: The last days of April

April final pages

Here we are at the final days of April. Since the month ends on a Tuesday, I went ahead and added the last couple days. For these pages, I decided to take a look at Submittable and look at journals with deadlines at the end of April and beginning of May that do not charge reading fees.

The pages

Since this month was National/Global poetry writing month, I feel inspired to add an equal focus toward poetry submission. Though I did not manage two poems a day (one for publication here and one to submit), I did write a few poems to start submitting. This equal focus idea may only change the pages on the monthly overview pages. I’m not sure yet.

I’m also taking another look at contests. I just got the May/June issue of Poets & Writers and the cover story is about submitting to Writing Contests. I came in sixth overall in the Writer’s Games and the work I produced was exciting for me. I think I may be ready to explore contests more thoroughly. As with reading periods, I will attempt to focus on when contests open and not on the deadlines to avoid procrastination.

2019 April Week Four to end

What other issues are coming up for you? What would you like me to change in the daily planner pages? What parts are you using and which aren’t useful? Do you like filling out the pages in your word processor, or do you like to print them out and fill them out by hand?

Thanks for playing along. I look forward to hearing your suggestions!

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The Planner Experiment: The Second Quarter

second quarterHere we are. It’s the end of March, the end of the first quarter of the year. A good time to review our progress and create new goals for the next quarter. We’ve finally left winter behind and this quarter, April, May, and June will lead us from spring into summer. There will be more distractions and more sunny days that will tempt us away from work. Things to think about while planning our writing, reading, and submitting.

This last week, I took my goal of submitting three times a day seriously and made up for not submitting earlier in the month, still beating my February submissions numbers.

This quarter will be a little different. I’m no longer focusing on deadlines, but the start dates of reading periods. This first month, April, I’ll focus mainly on journals that are open year round.

I’m excited to announce that for my birthday my sweetie got me a special subscription to Ploughshares, AGNI, Harvard Review and New England Review. Also, when I submitted to One Story, they offered five issues for five dollars, so I took them up on it. I also got the latest Willow Springs, Paris Review, and Alaska Quarterly Review, so this quarter I will be able to share what I think of all these journals from first hand experience.

Tomorrow I begin my daily posts for the April A-Z challenge and National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), but I’ll still continue the Planner Experiment posts on Sundays.

2019 Second Quarter and first week of April

 

The Planner Experiment: Fickle Spring

DSC00180

This week spring sprung, pounced really. We raced from snow to Seattle summer weather with speed that could induce spine-snapping whiplash. The cherry plum trees in my yard went from bare to full blossom in forty-eight hours. I woke up one morning and found myself instinctively picking things up and putting them away everywhere I walked.

The sudden change in the weather is easy to correlate with my change in behavior, but I’ve noticed a different sudden change in behavior that doesn’t have a ready correlate. Lately, I’ve been moody in my reading. I’ll start reading a book, decide I don’t like it, and put it down. A while later, I’ll try it again, decide I don’t like it and put it back down. Another day, I think I’ll return it to the library and suddenly, it’s great! It’s as if I had to be in a specific state of mind and the stars finally aligned.

This made me think about submission rejections. The readers at literary journals, reading and reading stories all day, don’t have the time to pick up your story over and over until the stars align perfectly and they are in just the right state of mind to see the brilliance of your story. You have to keep submitting your best work, giving it the best chances by following submissions guidelines to the journals that appear to be the most likely to be looking for your stories, but then it is out of your hands.

I admit, the rejections got to me. I stopped submitting this month. Then when I did motivate myself to submit, the journal’s submission window had closed early.  But I am determined to make up for my little dip in motivation and confidence. This week, I have set a firm goal of three submissions a day for seven days! When I accomplish that goal, I will increase my submissions total from last month which was this month’s goal. It will be difficult, but I know I can do it. Wish me luck. I could use some encouragement. I hope you’ll join me.

The Pages

For this week’s pages, I chose a photo I took of the cherry plum blossoms in my yard. The white blossoms become little yellow, tasty plums. For the background I use GIMP to change the opacity and lighten the colors.

2019 Planner March Week Four

Coming in April

Last year, I participated in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) for the first time. I also did the A-Z blog challenge, exploring a new word starting with each letter of the alphabet. I enjoyed how the new word interacted with the daily prompts. This year, though I know I will be spreading myself thin, I want to do both events again and add the Writer’s Digest PAD (poem-a-day) challenge. Since I’m finding that most journals will not publish anything that’s been posted to my blog, it makes sense to attempt two poems a day, at least.

What challenges are you looking forward to this April?

 

 

The Planner Pages: Changing course

March week three pages

The Experiment

This month is flying by and I have very few submissions to show for it. My main issue is trying to read enough of each journal to get a feel for it and then when I’ve spent so much time reading the journal, I decide I don’t have a story that fits.

I’ve been debating if I want to continue to list deadlines, or reading period openings and I have officially switched to openings. This week, I finally convinced myself to submit to a magazine only to find they had closed submissions early due to too many submissions. I’m seeing more and more that journals that use submittable will only take a certain number of submissions per month due to costs which makes their deadlines indecipherable. I am also finding that I procrastinate, so deadlines are not really helping me plan ahead. It makes more sense, for all these reasons, to start looking at journals by when their reading period opens. So, after this week, I’m changing course.

This means I will have to redo all of the pages from this quarter for next year, but it was all an experiment, so I’m glad I’ve come to this decision now instead of in the fall.

Reading Discoveries

Though I have hit a slump in my submitting, I have made some fun discoveries through continuing the experiment. After reading an interview with the editor of Hinnom Magazine, I picked up a copy of The Nameless Dark: A Collectionby T. E. Grau. The first story, “Tubby’s Big Swim” is thoroughly entertaining.

In Blackbird I enjoyed Miniature Man by Carrie Brown and was excited to read This Is The Age of Beautiful Death by John Dufresne. I have read and enjoyed John Dufresne‘s books on writing and recommend them often. It was fun to recognize an author I admire as I was reading through the magazines.

In Shenandoah, I enjoyed Tender by Shruti Swamy.

I hope you’ll make some time to treat yourself to these great stories.

The Pages

Here are this week’s daily planning pages with new writing prompts and magazine information: 2019 Planner March Week Three

I hope you are finding the daily planning pages helpful, informative, and motivational. What do you think of the writing prompts I’m making up? Have you tried any of them? How are your submissions going? Do you think you’ll reach 100 rejections this year?

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

The Planner Experiment: March Week Two

March week 2While I worked through the week’s pages, I came across an error. The dates for Pseudopod’s reading period are 3/15-3/31. The good news is we didn’t  miss out. I will try to be more careful. I’m glad I have a story that I want to send to Pseudopod, so I noticed the error.

I found some new deadlines coming up soon. My original search weighted to the magazines that paid authors and did not charge fees, however, I think including as many deadlines as I can, so you can make your own choices and analyses, is a better goal. Luckily, this is a year long experiment, so I have time to consider this issue.

Here’s the new March planning page with deadlines: March Deadlines update

I had some fun photographing fabrics for backgrounds, so the next few weeks will have original, textured backgrounds. I’m still playing around with chart and graph ideas. Hopefully I’ll have something for next week.

Here are this week’s pages: 2019 Planner March Week Two

Plan a great week!

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

The Planner Experiment: #CallForSubmissions

Over 500 Followers!!

Thank you to each and every one of you who has chosen to follow Experience Writing. I hope you continue to enjoy this writing journey. This is exciting!

The Planner Experiment

How are your submissions going? Are the planner pages helping? Do you have any suggestions for this week’s pages?

I found some new places to find submissions and I’m surprised I didn’t know about this sooner. I just discovered a couple of active and helpful hashtags on Twitter:

#Callforsubmissions

#Submissions

I’ll scour these over the next few days and should have updated deadlines for Sunday.

The Writer’s Games

Writer’s Games 2019 start tomorrow with a practice event. I’m really excited. I hope you will wish me luck as I write through the challenges. Are any of you participating in the games this year? Have you done it before? Any advice?

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

 

The First Week of March Planning Pages & March Reading Goals

Books through a fish eye lens

Here are the  pages to plan out this week:

2019 Planner March Week One

This week includes an interesting selection of literary magazines and a podcast along with original writing prompts.

March Reading Plan

I picked up a really fun selection of books from the library to read this month.

Novels

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (Everyman’s Library Classics) by Italo Calvino
Swing Time: A Novel by Zadie Smith

Short Story Collections

Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World
The Nameless Dark: A Collection by T. E. Grau

Poetry Collections

When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
Poems by Elizabeth Bishop

Graphic Novels

B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs Volume 1
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
Home After Dark: A Novel by David Small

Craft Books/Non-Fiction

The Playful Way to Serious Writing by Roberta Allen
Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark
Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University

I hope you will join me in reading a wide variety of great writing. What have you planned to read this month?

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

The Planner Experiment: Here Comes March

Here Comes March

I apologize for not getting this out yesterday as I intended, but I did get my story off to 3 Elements Review, so I’ll call that a win.

The Experiment So Far

So far, this experiment is doing exactly what I hoped it would do. I am aware of deadlines ahead of time and able to plan ahead for more opportunities and not feel caught off guard. I am becoming more familiar with hundreds of literary magazines both in print and online. I recognize the titles listed in other writers’ bios. I’m reading tons of short stories, poems and flash fiction and beginning to recognize the work of writers who are published often. It took the whole month for me to start using all of the elements of the daily pages. I was very concentrated on the submissions section at first. I was beginning to wonder if I needed the hourly table, but now that I’m using it, I think it is necessary. Thus, for my own purposes, this experiment is a smashing success so far.

The other aspect of the experiment which is to get feedback from you, my readers and use your feedback to make the daily pages better each week is not as successful. I have received some positive feedback on the design. Thank you. I hope as you use the pages, you will begin to let me know how to improve the pages for you.

Here is my February in review.

February goals met:

I submitted stories to literary magazines

I submitted poetry to literary magazines

I wrote and submitted new stories

I read a lot of short stories

I became familiar with many literary magazines

February goals not met:

The number of submissions was much lower than my goal, but still higher than every year’s submissions in the past. I hope to increase the amount of submissions each month.

The Numbers

Journal Submissions: 15

Other Submissions: 1 grant application, signed up for the writers games

Rejections: 5

Stories Written: 4- 1 short story, 1 flash, 2 micro

Books read: 10

novels 2

short story collections 3

poetry collections 3

craft books 2

short stories in literary magazines: did not keep track

Lessons Learned: a couple of the rejections I received said the work I sent wasn’t a good fit. Getting to know the journal better is the priority, not the deadline. If I really want to submit to a magazine with a deadline I may miss, it’s okay. I can submit next year, or during their next reading period.

Keeping Track Of Your Submissions

As you increase your story submissions, you will have stories submitted to multiple magazines at once. It is very important to track your submissions in a clear and organized way. When one of your stories is accepted for publication, you need to immediately withdraw that story from the other journals you submitted it to.

Create your own submissions tracker: I create tables in OneNote (microsoft office). I have a table for my stories and one for my poems My table has columns for the date of submission, name of the journal, name of the story, date of response, response and notes. I update it every time I submit or hear back from a magazine.

As my list of submissions grows, I may transfer this information to a Spreadsheet, so I can organize the data by story, or date, or response, etc. as needed.

Submittable

These days more and more journals are using the online submission portal Submittable for all of their submissions. Submittable automatically keeps track of all of your submissions through their portal. You can also save upcoming submissions that interest you.

Other Online options

Duotrope

Writers DB

Writer’s Digest Downloadable Spreadsheets

Sonar 3 free download

Triple Tracking Method from Writers Write

Here Comes March

This month is going to be hectic for me. I signed up for the Writers Games, so I will be writing a story a week to fulfill the challenges. I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into, but it should be fun and rewarding. Expect to hear a lot about the Writers Games this month.

One thing I didn’t do last month was keep track of all of the short stories I read in literary magazines. At the end of February, I designed a story analysis sheet that I plan to fill out for each story I read. I should have a lot of data about stories and the magazines that publish them by the end of this month.

New Goals

My main goal for March is to write great short stories. Toward that end I will experiment with my story analysis worksheet, at least three stories every day, and look for  ways to improve my stories toward publication.

The Deadlines:

I’m playing around with a mix of deadlines and reading period openings. Which would you rather see in the month’s deadlines section? Deadlines coming in that month, or future deadlines you can plan for, reading period openings?

The Daily Pages

Please download the month overview pages and these first few pages of March:

2019 Planner March opening pages

I look forward to your feedback. I’ll post a week of pages on Sunday.

Reading

I have a stack of books on hold at the library that I’m going to pick up today. On Sunday, when I present the week’s planner pages, I will let you know about my reading goals for March.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

 

The Planner Project: Final Days of February

Feb final pages

Here we are at the end of the first full month of planner pages and looking toward the month of March. For these last few pages, I decided to try a background. I used a section of a painting I did for my niece for Christmas. I lightened it and set it as a graphic background in page format. What do you think? Is it too much? Do you like the white page better?

2019 Planner February Week Four

Please download the free planner pages and let me know what you think. Each page is full of valuable information and planning ideas. I look forward to your feedback, so I can implement your suggestions.

We still have five days left for you to submit. Here are the February and March 1st deadlines:

  • 3 Elements Review       2/28
  • New Myths                     2/28
  • Hinnom                          2/28
  • Black Heart Magazine 2/28
  • Crab Creek Review       2/28
  • Ninth Letter                   2/28
  • THEMA                             3/1
  • Gulf Coast                        3/1
  • The Idaho Review          3/1
  • Upstreet                            3/1
  • Copper Nickel                  3/1
  • The Cincinnati Review  3/1

Look at all those opportunities to find homes for your stories.

If you are new to The Planner Project, information about each of these literary magazines, including who the editors are, the reading dates, and whether they pay and take simultaneous submissions is available on the daily planner pages I’m designing. If you are interested in downloading the pages for free you can learn more about the project and find the pages in my previous posts:

See into the future: no more missed opportunities

Realistic Goal Setting vs. Creative Chaos

The Deadlines: Collecting and Organizing

Here Comes February- the first week of planner pages

Fantasy, Horror and Sci-Fi, Oh my! (week two)

The Planner Experiment: February week three planner pages

I hope you’ll join in my experiment to design a daily planner that helps writers get ahead of the game when it comes to submitting their stories and poetry for publication.

Next Steps

One of the tools I liked from Write Your Book in a Flash: The Paint-by-Numbers System to Write the Book of Your Dreams—FAST! by Dan Janal (my book review) was using charts, graphs and other info-graphics. I was excited to find them available in open office, but have yet to figure out how to put them in my design (so far, they don’t like to share the page). That’s something I’ll be playing around with in March. Since I feel like the magazine descriptions need the most improvement, maybe I can come up with a bar chart that gives you quick info about each magazine.

Toward this end, Julie Reeser of patreon/abetterjulie, inspired me again. She invited readers to follow her on patreon as she reads and analyzes 300 published short stories to get a better understanding of what magazines are publishing. As I am also reading in hopes to understand what each literary magazine is looking for and publishing, I tried to come up with how I could analyze the stories I’m reading to come up with the information I’m looking for.

Using some of the ideas from The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby, which I am thoroughly enjoying, and other story analysis ideas, I created a one-sheet form, mostly of check-able boxes to fill out as I read. Hopefully, as I read a number of stories from one magazine, I will accumulate data that may eventually be worked into a bar graph of useful information about what that magazine publishes. I’ll be working with and fine tuning this story analysis sheet over the next month or so. If I think it’s useful for our purposes, I’ll share it with you and perhaps add it to the front-matter, or appendix of the planner.

In my continuing quest to be a consistent blogger, I will be posting on Sundays and Thursdays for the foreseeable future. Look for the February wrap-up and new pages for March this Thursday. I hope you are enjoying this experiment as much as I am and I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

The Planner Experiment: February Week Three Planner Pages

Week three pages blue

As I write this, I’m listening to short stories from Asimov’s Science Fiction on their podcast. I also discovered and have been listening to The CryptoNaturalist. I hope to have stories on both of them some day. Earlier today I enjoyed listening to stories, some read by the authors, over at Three-Lobed Burning Eye. I submitted a story to them this morning.

I have very exciting news. Yesterday, I submitted to three different magazines. It was the first day I have reached that goal. This morning, I did it again. I’m on a roll, but today’s submissions made me aware of another problem with my plan: sometimes the magazine or journal that appears to be the best fit for my story doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions. That means I may need to wait months before I can submit it again.

But wait! If I submitted the story to a magazine that is a good fit, I may not need to submit it again because they will publish it. So the only  real problem is how I will come up with three submissions for tomorrow. There-in lies the importance of learning about all of the literary journals that I would like to publish stories in and learning when their reading windows are, so I can prioritize the magazines for which I’m willing wait.

For those of you who are hoping to achieve a three submissions a day habit, here are some tips for preparing your submissions:

Make submitting easier:

  • Have a short bio written that you can cut and paste into your cover letter or submittable form when requested.
  • Re-read, edit, and format (most journals ask for Shunn format, but you may also want to have a copy with no personal info on it because many journals ask for that) your stories so they are ready to go when you find a good fit.
  • Try to find interviews with the editor to learn what they’re looking for and read stories from the journal. Find something you like or a story that is somewhat like your story, so you can mention it in your cover letter.
  • Read and re-read the submission guidelines and follow them carefully.

The Planner Pages

I have yet to receive your feedback and fervently await some data other than my own for this experiment, but we are only two weeks into it and I’m already seeing personal results.

Positive results

  • I have already submitted more than I did all of last year
  • I have a new outlook on rejections as accomplishments to work toward and they already don’t sting as much as they did before.
  • I am becoming familiar with literary magazines so that I can choose the best fit for my stories and write personalized, informed cover letters.
  • I have read a ton of short stories and poetry
  • I have collected, reviewed and organized my poetry and very short stories.
  • I’ve written a lot of writing prompts and come up with a lot of story ideas.
  • I’m finding ways to improve my design in open office though this part of the project is time consuming and can be frustrating.

Not so positive results

  • I haven’t found a daily routine yet.
  • I’m obsessively researching the journals.
  • There isn’t enough time in the day to read all the stories and poems.
  • I’m not writing new drafts for my ideas, at least not as quickly as I would like.

These problems, I believe, will taper off soon. I did write a very short story rough draft this morning. I’ve gathered most of the journals that I plan to include in the planner. By the end of the month, I should have them organized into their planner months and be able to prioritize getting familiar with each one.

The Changes

I was getting frustrated with the tools I had in open office, so I looked up loading new fonts. You can download free public domain, commercial use fonts at 1001 fonts. Having a selection of fonts I like made a lot of difference, but then I wanted borders and frames for my sections instead of just lines. This led me to the clip-art gallery. I downloaded frames and borders from public domain vectors.

This endeavor was not as successful as downloading and applying the fonts. Loading the clip-art into the gallery wasn’t particularly hard, I was just impatient and kept accidentally shutting down the program. Once I got the frames and borders into the clip-art, they didn’t look great when I resized them, so we’ll see if I end up using them.

While putting this week’s pages into one file, I discovered that the background colors that I had put with each day did not come along when inserted into the file. All of the days would have to have the same background color, so I decided to leave that for now. I think I’ll play around with using my photography for backgrounds. I would have to choose one that works for an entire season, if I choose to use a background.

I also changed the layout of the magazine section a bit. I didn’t like how the space next to the image of the magazine looked, so I moved the web address below the image and added info about the reading dates, pay/fee and whether or not they accept simultaneous submissions.

Planner Pages Week Three

2019 Planner February Week Three

I hope you’ll click the link above and download the planner pages, so you can plan your week’s submissions along with me. I look forward to receiving your feedback and hearing about your journey to publication.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!