The Planner Project Continues into May

May planner

2019 Planner May Week One

The Experiment

For readers who are new to Experience Writing, thank you for being here. These free daily planner pages are part of an experiment I started at the beginning of the year. I wanted to get ahead of the submissions game and know about deadlines in advance, so I didn’t feel like I had always just missed something. To accomplish this goal, I have been researching and reading literary magazines, and other writing markets, and incorporating information about deadlines and expectations into a daily planner design.

My hope is that you will download the pages and either print them out or use them in your word processing software, to motivate you to submit your stories and poetry to literary and genre markets, get your pile of rejections, and eventually get published. I also hope, that in return you will give me specific feedback on how the pages can be improved.

Another Great Resource

I’ve made many interesting journal finds on Submittable lately, but when I expanded my search to look for anthologies and other deadlines, I happened across a site I hadn’t visited in a while. Publishing . . . and Other Forms of Insanity has a listing of deadlines by month along with a treasure trove of useful information for writers.

April Review

As I expected, I tried to do too much in April. Writing a story each weekend for the Writer’s Games and a poem and blog post every day for NaPoWriMo and A to Z Challenge was a lot. I managed to do it all, but the Planner Experiment didn’t get the time and attention it needed and I’m feeling pretty burned out. Of course, getting the flu at the end didn’t help. In other words, I only accomplished 2 submissions in the whole month of April. However, I have many new things to submit, so I look forward to making up for it in May.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Journal Submissions: 0

Other Submissions: 1 anthology, 1 poem to Master Class collection

Rejections: 8  (3 of these letters sounded like I made it past the first round and was given serious consideration. I’ll take them seriously and make sure to submit new work to them during their next reading periods).

Stories Written: 6 short stories, 2 flash

Poems Written: 28 published to Experience Writing, 10 not (saved to submit to journals)

Books read

  • novels 2
  • short story collections 2
  • poetry collections: part or all of 30+
  • craft books 3
  • short stories in literary magazines: did not keep track

Master Classes: 3 – Neil Gaiman, Billy Collins, and Margaret Atwood (all amazing)

Lessons Learned: I often think I can accomplish more in a day than I actually can. A good way to use the planner pages is to be honest with myself and track how long it really takes to do things. The biggest lesson is to not let myself burn out and find fun and excitement in my work. This round of rejections made me feel like I’m getting my stories to the right people. I now need to get them to the right people at the right time (with a little persistence and luck sprinkled in).

What’s Next?

I’ve decided to go back to focusing on deadlines for the monthly planner pages. It makes more sense to me. When I put everything together for next year, I’ll re-evaluate. It’ll be easier when I can see the whole picture with more experience and personal knowledge.

This month, I’ll be exploring contests. I need to figure out how to evaluate which contests to enter. There are so many and they all have entry fees, usually around $20 each, so picking the right ones for my work is important to me. If anyone has advice, please share it in the comments.

I’m also thinking about compiling a chapbook of my poetry and a short story collection manuscript to submit to contests. I had been thinking about self-publishing a collection of my work and the Kindle Storyteller Writing Competition has me thinking about it again.

The Pages

I apologize that the pages are late again, but I’m just glad I haven’t given up on the project and was able to motivate myself. I like the look of the pages this week. What do you think? I will update the deadlines page as I find more interesting markets. Good luck with your submissions and I look forward to your comments.

2019 Planner May Week One

Happy reading, writing, planning and submitting!

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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!

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!

 

 

The Planner Experiment: Micro-fiction

Snowmaggedon

This planner project is already working for me. This week I received my second rejection. The sting only lasted a moment this time. The rejection letter even suggested that I submit something to their next reading period, so I’ll keep that in mind for my deadlines. I edited and submitted two other stories to different magazines the same day. Now that I’m becoming familiar with so many paying and interesting markets, I feel confident that I will eventually find the best fit for my work. The only way to do that is to keep submitting and collecting rejections. This new mind-set is helping my confidence and productivity.

Micro-fiction, Nano-fiction, and Very Short Stories

This week I discovered another group of magazines to add to my spreadsheet, the wonderful world of micro-fiction. I enjoy writing flash fiction. Flash is usually a story that is less than 1,000 words. There is a market for a sub-section of flash which consists of very very short stories. These magazines look for stories as short as a 140 character tweet, or specific word counts of 50, 66 or 100 words. The range is up to 500 words.

Most of these ezines aren’t paying markets, but are a great writing challenge. Telling a story with a beginning, middle and end with so few words trains you to edit for economy of word choice. I have had stories published in Speculative 66 and The Drabble.

There are some paying markets looking for micro (or nano) fiction. I found two lists: The short list from D. L. Shirey and a useful table from Erica Verillo.

Like I did with my poetry last week, I went through and collected all of my very short stories in one file. Unlike my poetry, I wasn’t enthralled with the very short stories I wrote here on Experience Writing, but that was exciting to me. I was able to find some magazines that would take poetry from my blog, but micro-fiction is another story. They are only interested in unpublished work. Thus, I plan to take only the very best ideas from my very short stories and completely re-write/ re-imagine them before submitting. I also have a list of story ideas that I think will work well as micro-fiction and plan to tackle some drafts in my morning pages.

Reading Everything

Another way the planner experiment is working, is by guiding my reading. I try to focus on reading some stories from the Literary Journal of the day and maybe one other. That way I’m not sampling from all over the place, but learning as much as I can about one journal at a time. Getting a feel for a journal isn’t easy and when I’m trying to learn about hundreds of journals at once, it can get overwhelming. Exploring one or two journals a day is a great way to get to know them and figure out if I have a story that is a good fit.

As you may have heard, the Seattle area had unusual snowfall last weekend. It was beautiful. Being snowed in is the perfect time to read, all snug under a pile of blankets. My sweetie and I have been reading to each other since the beginning of the year and we ramped that up during the snow. We lit a fire in the fireplace, drank tea and cocoa and read a bit of everything. That is one of the fun things about reading a lot of short story collections at once, you can read a story by one writer and then move to a completely different genre or style by another. We skipped around between The Lottery and Other Stories (FSG Classics) by Shirley Jackson, The Neon Wilderness by Nelson Algren, The Shell Collector: Stories by Anthony Doerr, and The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates interspersed with selections from The Pushcart Prize XLIII: Best of the Small Presses 2019 Edition (The Pushcart Prize). We ended up reading all of The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror and liking about half of it. She does tend to ramble and doesn’t seem to care about a satisfying ending, or that was our conclusion.

We also read Small Town: A Novel (Block, Lawrence). I’ve had this book for years and kept picking it up and putting it down, so I was glad we read it together and finally finished it, but I had no idea it would be so pornographic. I was much more interested in the murder mystery and found the “sexual artistry” annoying. However, it had a brilliant ending; little clues that made me re-read the beginning (since it had been a long time since I started it) to confirm.

As for the other reading goals I put in my planner, I finished The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limón. I enjoy her poems and liked the collection, but not as much as Bright Dead Things: Poems. I’m also reading a bunch of craft books. I’m especially enjoying The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby.

The Planner Pages

I’ve been frustrated with the tools available to me in open office, so I did some work this week improving my font selection and line and border possibilities along with experimenting with backgrounds and colors. I also realized that I needed to put some planning for my novel edits in the planner as well, so I’m playing around with that.

I noticed I had a repeat prompt on the thirteenth. I apologize. I wrote and saved over 100 writing prompts the other day, so even without the prompt inspiration I get from the literary journals themselves, we won’t be running out of writing prompts any time soon.

Look for the new pages some time tomorrow evening, so you can plan out your week along with me on Sunday.

Feedback

I would love to hear from you. Are you using the planner pages? Do you use them on the computer, or print them out? Are you submitting your work? How could the pages be more useful and motivational?

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

Here Comes February – The first week of planner pages

Today’s the day! I organized all of the pages of my planner that I’ve created so far into one file and am actually posting it for you when I said I would. Yay! I find it fitting and poetic that I also received my first rejection of the year this morning! How great is that? Only ninety-nine more to go.

The rejection was disappointing, of course, but today it only stung for a second. I wanted to read the pieces that the guest editor accepted, so I would have a better idea what to send in the future. I think this project is working already.

So here they are, the daily planning pages for the first week of February. I set it up to look right in the book view in open office. I think I’ll try to print it as a little book for myself, since I like to reward myself with little stickers sometimes, but I set it up so you can fill it in on the computer. I’ll probably do both.

plannercover

2019plannerfebruaryweekone

I’m still trying to figure out if three submissions a day is a reasonable goal. I’ll probably start out with one a day and try to increase over time. The most important thing for me is to not get overwhelmed because then I won’t do it at all. I also need to make sure submissions and reading all these journals doesn’t take time away from writing and editing. I hope you’ll experiment with the pages and let me know what works for you.

Trying to consume more short stories and poems

I’m trying out using audio books and radio shows/podcasts to listen to short stories and poetry while I’m working on these pages. Using Overdrive I was able to check out some Joyce Carol Oates, since she appears to have a story in every literary journal. I’ve been listening to The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares: Novellas and Stories of Unspeakable Dread I also checked out some Ann Beattie. I have her book Park City: New and Selected Stories, but can’t seem to get through it, so I thought I’d try listening to her stories instead. I checked out The State We’re In: Maine Stories and The Accomplished Guest: Stories.

This morning, thanks to The Boynton Blog who brought this to my attention, I’m enjoying poetry read by poets in Spokane, Wa. on Spokane Public Radio.

Feedback

I hope you’ll download the planner pages and give feedback in the comments, so I can make changes for the second week’s pages. Each daily page includes a unique writing prompt (I’m making them up as I go), and an introduction to a literary magazine. I would like to know what type of information would be useful to you in the magazine descriptions. I included the editor’s name and the website address, but I think my descriptions could use some work.

I hope you’re enjoying the experiment and start getting some rejections soon. 😉

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!