Day Fifteen: Motivated to Patiently Explore Motivation

Motivation by Maria L. Berg 2022

Motivation

Today we had a very special guest post by Jacob M. Appel about prioritizing writing. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend reading it for a dose of writing motivation.

It is human nature to be drawn to pleasure and avoid pain. All motivations can be put into these two categories, but some find pleasure in pain, and some are repulsed by pleasures. Motives for people’s actions are endlessly entertaining as is evident from the number of mysteries and thrillers available to stream. With every violent act, the most interesting question is why, what was the motivation?

What motivates you? What provides a cause or reason to act? It’s different for everyone, so what does motivation look like? It pulls and pushes; like a force, it changes one’s direction.

For today’s images, I searched for a symbol that represents both pleasure and pain. I decided fire was the perfect fit. Fire is beautiful, exciting and draws you toward it for warmth, but it burns and can cause great pain. I added orange and blue strings of lights in the mirrorworld, used my fire symbol filter, and put it in motion.

All Fired Up by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts

NaPoWriMo

Today’s prompt is to write a poem about something you have absolutely no interest in.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a patience poem.

Motivated by Love by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

No Patience for the Idolotry of Reality’s Celebrity

Living vicariously through imagery
false luxury, fake enmity, wasted
hours watching, watching, staring
not caring, not having to care
and yet wrapped up in voyaristic
connection, anticipation of one
more juicy bit of depravity
From where the motivation
to trade away one’s moments
in passive consumption
of the glitter and glamor
of the basest, lowest
crudest ridiculist
at the table
the loosest lips
sinking the most
shock-ships, launching
the most depth-charges
to lower the lowest bar
confusing the line between
fiction and delusion
even further

Day Eight: They Never Tell You Goals Are Squirrelly

Bokeh squirrels on the lake photographed through the hedge and tall grass.
Lofty Goals by Maria L. Berg 2022

Goal

A goal can be a concrete noun, if you’re playing soccer (football in most of the world), but as an abstract noun–“the result or achievement toward which effort is directed”–it is a squirrelly concept. Since the beginning of the year, I have read a pile of books on the concept of goal setting, creating and changing habits, motivation, and achieving goals. I’ve written about it in a series of posts (The theme for this year is “A Year of Finishing Novels”), but goals are shifty, and when captured tend to grow larger, or run further away.

I’ve never made a squirrel filter. That’s a good goal for today.

Colorful bokeh squirrels of different sizes overlapping in the mirrorworld.
My Squirrelly Goals by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts

NaPoWriMo

Name your alter-ego, and then describe him/her in detail. Then write in your alter-ego’s voice.

Poem A Day

Write about what “they” never tell you.

One bokeh squirrel on the lake by some leaves.
Focused by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

They Never Tell Me Where They Put the Goal Posts

They keep moving the goal posts
but never tell me where they put them
always changing the rules when
I think that I’ve learned them

They say good things come to those who wait
but never specify how long or what’s good
And while I’m waiting, imagining my good things coming
they move the goal posts again when I’m not looking

Of course they aren’t the ones in the now
in this crowd, feeling this beat pull them
from their seats to move their well-shoed feet
and return my smile

They say grab life by the horns
but they never say how it feels to be torn
when those horns gore through
or how long it will take for the wounds to heal

They say time heals all wounds
but they never specify how much time
and does this count as time waiting for good things?
Because that feels like a cheat, when the good things
I’m waiting for are a hit song and a huge cheering crowd
I’d rather not have wounds in the first place
if healing them is the good things I’m wasting time
waiting for, and if it’s the wound I got from grabbing
life’s horns, that’s a double cheat.

I shoulda grabbed life by the tail and held on tight
and let my legs fly out behind me
Gotta watch out for hooves ‘n shit, but it’d
be better than being gored and then not
getting good things because I’m waiting for
holes to heal. Where did those goal posts go?

They say nothing lasts forever
but I think waiting might if
I listen to them. Luckily
the music’s so loud
I can’t hear them
I can’t even hear myself

#Writober 2019 Day 4: Escaping the Cage

Escaping the Cage

Burning sculpture by Spencer Matthews photo by Maria L. Berg

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme “Cage – Pewter, Silver, or Gold” has to do with feeling caged, even in a beautiful, shiny cage. The poetry form Tetractys looks like fun. It is a form of counting syllables that can be used forward and backward.

Hem No More

Hem
inside
expecting
available
Not this time: without respect: I want more
Friendship isn’t a one way street today
I don’t serve you
I want some
equal
ground

#Writober4

The image for Day 4 on the Pinterest board is a painting by Berlin artist Daniel Richter. The painting shows two electrified looking silhouettes with frightened eyes.

My take: This image works well with the idea of escaping the cage. For some people, their whole world is a cage. If a portal to a new world opened up, that could be an escape from a cage. The figures appear to be running through an alien, unknown land that is unstable, perhaps erupting, crumbling, deconstructing. They appear frightened and look to be carrying weapons.

Micro-fiction: Dr. Haviaras pulled the plug and smashed the crystal of Havmillarium. She knew there might not be another speck left, so her life’s work could never be repeated. The glimpse of that world and the figures running toward her was enough to quash her ambitions.As she yanked the cord and raised the hammer, one of the attackers put a hand on the other’s chest as if to restrain their flight into her dimension, but she didn’t have time to ponder what that could mean. She had to stop them. She was the only one who could.

Writing Process and Tools

Celtic Cross Plots: Here’s another celtic cross plot

Writober plotting with tarot 2

  1. Four of Swords 2. Ten of coins 3. Nine of cups 4. The magician 5. The Hierophant 6. Seven of coins 7. The Chariot 8. King of swords 9. Ace of swords 10. Three of wands

Creepy verbs: slash, gash, pierce, slice, hack, flay, blister

Story Cubes Symbols: pyramid, flashlight, magnet, arrow (down, left), clock (four o’clock), crescent moon, question mark, flower, scarab

Woodland creature: hedgehog

Horror trope: monsters

 Using the October Planner Pages

Planner exterior

Last night, I posted the Fourth quarter opening pages and the pages for October. I started working with the pages this morning and found that the prompt for October 14th somehow moved up to the middle of the previous page. Sorry about that.

I typed in the names of my stories and poems that need homes. I needed to add text boxes to type inside the boxes. I highly recommend starting with this exercise. I found it inspiring to see all of the work I have done that is ready to be sent out into the world listed on one page like that. Fun and exciting!

Planner interior

Then I printed the planner. Make sure, when you select duplex printing, that you select staple on short side left. I took my little chisel (couldn’t find my awl) and quickly pierced the pages along the fold. I sewed them together into a book. I am really liking the look of things now.

Self-critique: At this size, I think the boarders around the sections are a little too thick now. The writing prompts need to come down a bit from the top edge on some of the pages and the fonts within the daily boxes can now be smaller. Next month I’ll definitely try a different color scheme which I plan to do each month anyway. Overall, I think it’s almost there.

This month, I hope to fill in every box on every page, so I get the full experience. I hope to try every prompt and hope you will tell me which prompts (written and visual) you like the best. Thank you for playing along. I hope you find inspiration in these pages.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

The Planner Experiment: A New Month Begins

June month plan

So here we are. June is upon us. We’re looking at the midpoint of the year and the days keep flying by. How are your submissions going? Are you finding ways to use the daily planner to stay motivated?

Last week I admitted I was having trouble submitting and hoped that I would find that original energy again and I think writing it here really helped. I finished the month strong, entering two contests and submitting to ten magazines.

I received a wonderful, personal rejection with feedback from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. You couldn’t ask for a nicer rejection. In other words, keeping with it is paying off.  As a friend of mine recently said, “You keep pounding and pounding at that wall, eventually you’ll break through.” I can see cracks forming in the mortar.

Contests

As I mentioned, I’ve started looking into how contests fit into my submissions goals. I entered three short story contests last month, paying a total of $47 in entry fees. I won’t know if it’s a good investment or not for a while, but I am still focused on learning more about how to select contests, so I did some searching and found 30 contests with deadlines in June. At an average of $20 each, if I entered all of those contests, that would be $600 in entry fees for only one month of contests! So how am I going to choose?

One way to quickly sort through is by type of writing. Many of the contests ask for manuscripts: poetry chapbooks or story collects, novelettes, or full novels. Since I have stories in contests and all of my stories are out looking for work, I thought I might focus on poetry in June. I saw that one of my favorite poets, Ada Limón, is judging a poetry book prize. The deadline is the middle of the month and I have been wanting to create a poetry manuscript of my work, so I plan to use this as a deadline to get that work done. Then I can adjust that manuscript to fit other contests.

Another way to choose contests is by researching the judges, the journals or organizations having the contest and previous winners. Researching all of these aspects of a contest will give you information about which contests will be the best fit for your work.

When I was reading advice from contest winners in the last issue of Poets & Writers, one of the winners said to look at what else your contest entry fee gets you. Will you get feedback and critique? Will you get an issue or a subscription to the magazine? Will all entries be considered for publication?

All things to think about when trying to select which contests to dish out for.

Getting In On The Ground Floor

Submitting to the first issue of a literary magazine can be a bit of a gamble–you can’t read previous issues to see what they publish, and they may not last long–but it can also be rewarding. My first publication was in the first issue of Five on the Fifth and I enjoyed the experience and created relationships with the editors.

This morning, while looking over my wordpress reading feed, I came across a brand new ezine from Writer Shed Press called Writer Shed Stories. This is a brand new paying market ($20). I felt like I had a story that might fit, so I submitted. We’ll see how it goes.

In researching this month’s magazines, I also came across The Blend a paying market out of Australia. Their first issue comes out in July.

The Pages

2019 Planner June opening pages

Today, I’m only posting the June month planner page with deadlines and these first couple days. I will update the deadlines as the month progresses. I noticed plenty of errors in last months deadlines, but some of them may have been changes that happened during the month. As I’ve said before, it’s better to submit as soon as the window opens, or in the case of Submittable submissions, at the beginning of the month.

I’ve planned weekly compounding writing prompts for each week in June which will start on Monday, so check back again tomorrow night, or Monday morning.

I look forward to hearing from you. Are you submitting to the magazines in the planner pages? Tell me about your submission experiences.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning, and Meeting Your Publishing Goals!

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 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!

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!