The Planner Experiment: Second Week of June

the mountain in the morning

This week, I had a tough time choosing journals for the planner. I’m not sure why, but I found it extra challenging. I ended up with an eclectic group of journals ranging from the well established like the Chicago Review which celebrated 50 years in print to the brand new Visions a graphically-oriented science fiction magazine that looks really interesting.

So here you have it. This week’s pages. I hope you have a great week.

2019 Planner June week two

Don’t forget to order your copy of America’s Emerging Fantasy Writers: Pacific Region for some fun summer reading.

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The Planner Experiment: Final Week of May and Finding Poetry

Fifth Week of May

I prepared the pages early this week and then spaced posting them yesterday, sorry.

2019 Planner May Week Five

Last Week

I finally typed up the ten unpublished poems from NaPoWriMo. I’m letting them sit a bit before I edit them. At the moment I’m not as excited about them as I had hoped to be.

In the meantime, I tried some collage poetry which was a fun and inspiring experiment. I chose two very different books:The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks by Susan Casey and Women and the Law (University Casebook Series) by Mary Joe Frug. I photocopied some pages from each book and highlighted phrased that interested me, creating a highlighter color code as I went. When I had highlighted all of the pages, I cut out the selected phrases and put them in a bowl.

I found a small book I had made from scrap paper and magazine pages in my art supply bin. It was a perfect size. I started selecting phrases and gluing them into the book. Over two days, I turned those phrases into five poems.

This Week

I enjoyed my word collage experiment so much that I’ve decided to continue it this week. I have pulled out seven of my morning pages notebooks and have started photocopying random pages from them. I plan to use the same color-coding I used before while highlighting phrases that grab my attention. I’m excited to see if the creation of the poems and the finished products feel more or less personal when using words from my notebooks instead of from books.

Submissions

I still have not been able to re-invigorate my interest in submitting, even though I get excited about the journals as I learn about them and often think one or more of my stories will be a good fit. Hopefully, my original excitement will come around again. Starting tomorrow morning, I will attempt to make my three submissions my morning priority.

Welcome to Summer

Happy Memorial Day to those of you celebrating. It’s beautiful weather here. I jumped in the lake for the first time this year (late for me). It was tingly and brisk. It’s going to get harder and harder to self-motivate and get work done. I hope these planner pages help keep us motivated and on track to meet our publishing goals.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

The Planner Experiment: May Week Four

May Week Four

Most of this week’s magazine submission ideas came from New Pages. New Pages Call for Submissions pages can let you know about brand new magazines and other interesting markets. It can be fun to be one of the first writer’s published in a magazine. I’m excited about Alien Magazine, a new literary magazine coming out this fall.

This Week’s Pages

2019 Planner May Week Four

This last week I received my first yes!! I have a short story coming out in a fantasy anthology. I’m very excited. It’s a story that’s close to my heart. I’ll tell you all about it when I have the release date.

I also entered my first literary magazine contest. I sent a short story to Carve Magazine’s Raymond Carver contest.

I did not reach my goal of typing up my poetry and submitting, but I’ll keep working toward that.

I hope everyone is continuing to find useful information and motivation in these pages.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning, and Submitting!

The Planner Experiment: May Week Three – New idea for writing prompts

May week three

Finding writing prompts in old movies

The other day, while thinking about which classic monster I wanted to put in space for the Monsters in Space anthology, I remembered I have a copy of Little Shop of Horrors, the black and white, non-musical with Jack Nicholson. I also needed to come up with some writing prompts for this week’s pages, so I started the movie and sat down with a notebook and pen to jot down any writing prompts that came to mine, or any Audrey Jr. in space ideas, whichever came first.

To my surprise, every little thing began to trigger writing prompt ideas. First, I was inspired by the setting of a flower shop, then by the characters, then by getting ideas from films, then odd and fun dialogue. While I was writing the prompts, I noticed that a couple of them could, perhaps build off of one another.

A new idea for the planner

After writing twenty-eight unique prompts, I looked back through and grouped them into four weeks of prompts that could possibly work together to inspire work on the same story throughout the week.

Since I began this project, I’ve had fun making up the prompts, but not used many of them. I think this new idea of using each prompt to build a story through the week will be more useful. As I learned last month, I can write a story a week, so if I use the prompts to inspire a small section of a story each day, then I’ll be more likely to reach that goal of a finished draft each week.

So many prompts

After Little Shop of Horrors, I put in the original Night of the Living Dead and the writing prompt ideas just kept coming (mostly from dialogue). Now that I’ve discovered this technique, I doubt I’ll ever need to worry about coming up with prompts. I have collections of old black and white, even silent, Alfred Hitchcock and black and white Sherlock Holmes. I’m not sure the black and white is necessary for my prompt writing technique, but I’m going to stick with it for a while.

This week’s pages

Last week, I only got two submissions out. But I did get two submissions out, so that’s movement in the right direction. One of my submissions was a photography submission, an exciting first.

This week we’re hitting many of the month’s deadlines, especially for poetry. I’ve been telling myself I’m going to type up my poems that I have not published on this site and send them out, so this week is the week for my new poetry submissions.

This week’s goal, again, is to fill in the daily planner pages and hit those three submissions a day. I hope you’ll join me.

2019 Planner May Week Three

Reading poetry with a twist

I’m reading a lot of poetry. I’m still reading through all of the books I found to inspire my poetry last month. Last week, I tried something new and found it moving and enjoyable. I was reading Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart by Alice Walker, but not getting very far with it, so I downloaded the audio book, read by the author and listened to it while I worked for a while. Then I picked up the book and read along while I listened. I really enjoyed it, having her voice in my head instead of my own. I highly recommend this experience.

This week I’ll also be reading the poetry of

Diane Seuss
Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl: Poems
Four-Legged Girl: Poems

Alberto Rios
A Small Story about the Sky
The Dangerous Shirt

and

Louis Jenkins
Winter Road

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

The Planner Experiment: May Week 2

pink rhodies small.jpg

My new focus on contests brought me to something fun. Literary Taxidermy is having a contest in which participants write a story that starts and ends with lines from a selected work. This year’s selection is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The idea of the contest is to start with the first line of Mr. Bradbury’s story and create something completely different that then ends with his last line. I already have a ton of ideas. I think I’ll write drafts for at least three of them, maybe more.

Other interesting contests I found were:

Jerry Jazz Musician’s Short Fiction Contest  This site is looking for fiction that incorporates aspects of jazz music.

Online Writing Tips Story Prize This contest is free and offers a £100 prize. There’s no theme or genre. Enter any story of 1000-4000 words.

This Week’s Pages

May Week Two.png

2019 Planner May Week Two

I think part of my frustration last month and why I kept getting behind on the pages was I wasn’t making the time to use them. This week, I’m renewing my efforts to completely fill in the pages each day with the goal of three submissions every day. I hope you’ll join me. I look forward to hearing about your journey to publication. I hope the daily planner helps motivate you to submit your stories and poems.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

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: 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!

Realistic Goal Setting vs. Creative Chaos

Rising in the West

The Chaos

Moments after I published my last post with realistic reading goals that I would put in my planner for January, I went to the library and checked out twenty-five books that were not on that list. I’m glad I did. There’s nothing wrong with my reading gluttony. I should not have imagined I could reign it in.

My approach to submissions is similar. Today, I saw a tweet about the guest editor at Smoke Long wanting story submissions, and from her interview, it sounded like she might like one of my stories, so I spent most of the day completely re-writing it and submitted it. Not in the plan, but I submitted and I think the story is much better today than it was yesterday, so mission accomplished.

As you can see, my ideas for my writer’s planner that I laid out in my last post were an interesting hypothesis for my experiment, but do not hold up to the creative chaos of how I actually work.

Realistic Goals

Deadlines

One aspect of the planner, however, the main one of knowing dates for deadlines in advance, has worked and I did submit to the first two deadlines on my list, on the very last day, but still. Stories submitted. I think the idea of having some specific deadline goals each month will definitely work for me and if I already had these dates in a planner and didn’t spend so much time finding them out in the first place would save me a lot of time for writing new work.  So this will be my main goal for the planner: finding deadlines for magazines and contests that will be predictable for next year.

Knowing all the options

The other aspect of the planner that I think will work is a daily overview of a literary magazine. Though literary magazines appear and disappear, often without warning, I’m still in shock that Tin House closed its doors, I think I can come up with 365 options for writers to think about with links to their websites, so the writer can learn more and submit if it looks like a good fit.

While at the library (checking out all the books) I found The Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of the Small Presses 2017 Edition (2017 Edition) (The Pushcart Prize). This was a great find for this part of the project. In the back of the book it lists all of the small presses, with their addresses, that submitted pieces for consideration. For fun, I went through the list and picked out every listing for Washington State. I was surprised how many there are and how different each small press and magazine is from another. I have already submitted to one of the magazines from that list. The great thing about the Pushcart Prize collection is I can read the stories and see which magazines think which stories represent them the best and which magazines publish the most award-winning stories and poems.

The Design

For the experiment, I wanted to create the planner pages in open office so all of you can play around with it with me. I like the idea of being able to fill in the planner on my computer and/or print it out and have a physical copy.

My initial attempt to create the daily layout was frustrating, so I headed to Youtube and found a couple of videos that clicked with me and got me started.

Jenuine Life

Mariana’s study corner 

The trick was to use shapes and text boxes. Though it was very time consuming, I came up with an initial draft of my idea.

feb one left                                           feb one right

So now the experiment can move into data collection. I hope you will join me. What do you think of this initial idea? How’s the layout? Does it include everything for a motivational daily planner? What types of physical properties would you change: shapes, colors, backgrounds, fonts, etc.?

My next step is to create all of the pages for February and start using them, re-evaluating and incorporating feedback each week.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting Your Work!