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 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!

Fantasy, Horror and Sci-Fi. Oh my!

bokeh photography experiment with a wide angle attachment on a zoom lens

Galactic Unions photo by Maria L. Berg

Just when I thought I had run out of paying markets for the planner, I happened upon Locus, a journal that reviews speculative fiction journals which expanded my knowledge of available paying markets.

Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction includes: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror, Slipstream, Weird, Bizarro, and more. Curious what slipstream is? Here’s an article that coined the term: Slipstream by Bruce Sterling

And among all these genres and sub-genres there are markets for short stories, flash and poetry. Yes, that means I have a ton more short stories to read to get to know these magazines, but it also means that my weird monsters might find good homes.

Organizing Deadlines

One of the magazines in the speculative fiction genre, Neon, not only has a great incentive to get to know their magazine before you submit–pay what you can to download an issue, then mention you donated in your cover letter and get editorial feedback– they also turned me on to new listings of paying markets:

Literistic

Ralan.com

The Poetry Kit

Poetry

Most of the poetry I’ve written over the last couple of years is up on my blog. These poems were created in response to prompts from dVerse poets, NaPoWriMo, OctPoWriMo and MoSt poets. Imagine my disappointment when I found that literary magazines won’t accept any poetry that has been previously published, including on my blog. I understand that this only means I get to write new, better poems that I don’t put up here on Experience Writing, but I was still disappointed.

However, through my research, I have found a few magazines that will take poems that have been published on a blog, including Neon, so I am excitedly reading these magazines and scouring through to find my very best poems to submit to them.

I am incredibly happy to say that I’ve submitted my poetry to four different magazines.

The Planner Pages

I have been obsessively researching and collecting literary magazine deadlines for short stories, flash fiction and poetry. I have almost finished selecting the 365 for the planner. So I’ve updated the February deadline page. February plan page right

I made one major change to the pages for this second week. I thought the margins were a waste of space, so I changed to quarter inch margins and made the text larger.

Here are the pages for the second week (plus a few, I like to plan out the week on Sunday as I seem to energetically attack projects on Monday, so the next group of pages will start on Sunday). 2019 Planner February Week Two

I’m finding that the journal descriptions and themes influence my writing prompts. I think that’s fun, but what do you think? Are the writing prompts creative and fun, or too on the nose?

So far, the experiment is working for me. I am learning so much and reaching my goals. I am submitting to two magazines every other day, so my goal of starting out at one a day is kinda working.

Have you tried the planner pages? Did you print them out, or are you filling them out in your word processing program? I liked filling the planner out by hand.

 

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

 

The Deadlines: Collecting and organizing

short story submission planningI made a breakthrough over the weekend. I entered the information I’ve been collecting about different literary magazines and their reading windows into a spreadsheet. Now I can easily sort all of the reading periods by deadlines and what month I want to include them in my planner. I also added spreadsheet pages for contests, paying poetry markets, anthologies and community events.

Sifting Through

I found some more submission sources. Along with Newpages, Poets and Writers and Submittable listings, I’m using:

The Review Review

CLMP Community of Literary Magazines and Presses

As there are thousands of literary magazines and I only intend to introduce 365 in my planner, I decided to begin my exploration with magazines that pay their writers. I noticed that many journals are now using Submittable and charging a submission fee. I feel like it won’t be worth my time if I’m losing money for my efforts,  so my focus is on journals with no fees that pay writers anything at all upon publication. I was happy to discover that there were more paying markets than I thought and separating my spreadsheets into fiction and poetry revealed even more opportunities if I can muster enough courage to submit my poetry.

Proof of concept

The first month of the year isn’t over and I’ve already missed a ton of deadlines for both reading periods and contests. My research has revealed that the journals that pay the most have tiny reading periods of only days per year. I was also shocked to see that the The Pushcart Prize XLIII: Best of the Small Presses 2019 Edition (The Pushcart Prize) is already at my local library. How is that even possible?

I began to get frustrated and overwhelmed, but I reminded myself that the purpose of this research experiment is to be prepared for next year. The missed deadlines this month and the beginning of next only support my theory that a successful submission is planned well in advance.

A new problem

Journals charging submission fees and contest entry fees aren’t the only monetary issue I see with my heightened submission plan. Each journal expects submitting writers to become familiar with past issues before submitting. Many journals provide some stories to read online, but most suggest that one purchase an issue or get a subscription.

I understand that the journals need to make money and it’s important to read what the journal prints. I want to read as many literary magazines as possible, but if I was to purchase 365 magazines at fifteen to thirty dollars an issue, I would have to spend between $5,500 and $11,000 only to read one issue which isn’t really enough to get a feel for a publication as a whole .

I want to make money, not go into debt, so my submission goals are now limited to journals that have story samples available online, journals I can find through my library system and journals that have stories in collections that I can get from the library like The Pushcart Prize and The Best American Short Stories.

With all the time it takes to read enough short stories to familiarize oneself with literary journals, I don’t know when submitting writers find time to write. I’m hoping, through this experiment, it will all click by next year. I’ll be familiar with the journals, know the deadlines for the ones I want to submit to and have a year’s worth of stories to submit. Ah, I really am a dreamer.

Staying Flexible

Though I made some of my January goals, I changed my mind on others. I started writing the possession story for the Dark Regions contest, and I still like the idea, but I didn’t want to feel that dark right now, so I let that story go for the moment.

I read some of the winning stories from the Nelson Algren Short story contest in The Chicago Tribune archives, but I still want to read more of his work and write a story specifically toward that contest, so I put that off until next year. From learning about Nelson Algren, I’m also learning about Studs Terkel. I’ve noticed that there are literary magazines inspired by these gentlemen. I look forward to learning more about them.

Though Sixfold sounded interesting, with everything else I’m doing right now, I didn’t have time to read everyone’s entries, so I put that off for another time as well.

Through my deadline collection, I also found many February first deadlines that I will put on the January pages for next year, but not stress over for now. I want to have time to get familiar with each of the journals and not send stories out only because there are deadlines. Everything about this process is showing me that I’m on the right track. Submitting stories is for planners.

The Planner Pages

With February fast approaching, I’ve worked out some more rough draft pages. I want to start each quarter of the year with large goals for the three months. Then each month will have more specific goals and a list of specific deadlines for that month. Here’s what I’m going to try for the First Quarter and February:

first quarter planning page left                               first quarter planning page right

february plan page left                                             february plan page right

I hope you will download them and experiment along with me. I’ll be adding more deadlines to the February Deadlines page as they come up and will update accordingly. I look forward to your feedback about what you like and don’t like about the design and content as well as whether you find the format motivational.

If you know of any deadlines to add to February, please let me know in the comments.

The daily pages for the first week of February will be posted on Thursday.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

See into the future: No more missed opportunities

Heron in flight

With renewed passion and fresh eyes, my story will take wing.

Happy New Year! I know I’m a week late to the party, but I’m finally feeling like getting started, so better late, right?

A new year, a new project

I have an exciting new project for this year inspired by a tweet from Julie Reeser (@abetterjulie) asking about end of year processing and planning. She got me thinking about planning. I’ve been in survival mode for a very long time and though I’m glad that keeps me in the moment, it has kept me from making plans.

Julie’s tweet got me thinking about the many times I have happened upon a submission that excited me only to find out the deadline had just passed or was hours from closing. I don’t want to live on the edge of submission deadlines anymore. I want to plan ahead and have the time to submit my best work to reach my publication goals. To this end, I am starting a quarterly daily planner with writers who are submitting short stories and poetry while writing novels specifically in mind. As in me and hopefully you.

My original goal was to have the first quarter (January – March) planner available to download already, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense because this is really an experiment in what actually works to motivate me to get stories submitted, rejected, revised, (submitted, rejected, submitted) x infinity, rejected and finally accepted. It’s the multiplication part I appear to have a problem with and hope to overcome.

One of the ideas that has inspired me to submit more–work harder toward rejection–is the lovely goal of reaching 100 rejections in a year. On the surface, that sounds pretty crazy: I would have to write 100 stories in a year? No. Having that many drafts by the end of the year would be awesome! But I don’t think I would have time to do anything else, and I have other stuff to do. I wouldn’t send the same story off to be rejected from 100 different editors either. However, in a combination of daily submission goals for stories I have written and stories I will write along with poetry submissions, contest entries and a grant submission or two, I might be able to reach that goal of 100 rejections along with a pile of acceptance letters. That’s the joy of the idea. If you look for 100 rejection letters, you may have to work harder because of the people who start saying yes. It’s a great form of reverse psychology as long as your actual goal is to publish and not to accumulate rejection letters.

I also have a novel manuscript that I am fine-tuning to submit. I want to create a planner that inspires all types of writing submissions, rejections, editing, and re-submitting.

If my planner design helps motivate me, I hope to have created a tried and true planner for 2020 to inspire all writers by the end of the year.

So far, I’m approaching the project (and the design) like organizers say to approach any project: Large goals, broken into smaller goals, broken into small, achievable goals.

Planners don’t work for me if I waste time filling in my planner, so I want the important stuff to take very little time. The point to creating this is to inform. I want to know at the beginning of the quarter of the year what stories I’m submitting and who to send them to, by name. I don’t want to waste days researching them when it should be at my fingertips. It’s aggravating to me when I have to spend an entire day, or a week, trying to figure out who to address my cover letter to. It shouldn’t ever be that hard, especially when you’ve cared to do the research. My idea, is to include a magazine for each day of the planner, as an idea for one of each day’s submission.

An area that I’m still contemplating is contests. I have heard that contests can be important, but looking through the wonderful poets and writers calendar, it turns out most of them cost money. I think I can add one or two contests to my budget each month, especially if the judges provide feedback.

January Submission Goals

These are the submissions I will put on my January 2019 goals:

1/15 Outlook Springs end submission period

1/15  The Dallas Review  end submission period

1/24  Sixfold  contest $5

1/31 Nelson Algren Short Story award

1/31 Dark Regions contest “Possession”

This short list is a great reminder why it’s important to plan ahead. I have stories I can send to Outlook Springs, The Dallas Review and Sixfold, but I need to read past issues and find the story that fits best. For the Nelson Algren award, I want to get familiar with Algren’s work. Because I planned ahead, I was able to put his book, The Neon Wilderness, on hold at my local library and am already becoming familiar with his work. For the Dark Regions contest, I’m writing an original story. Finding the right story to match a call for submissions, and writing a news story all take time, so planning three months in advance is my goal, but one month will have to do for now.

Submission sources

I have also started a list of magazines to write overviews for and add to the daily submissions goals. I’m finding submissions information from:

Poets & Writers

Submittable

New Pages

and interesting things I see on Twitter

Books, Books, Books

Every writer has to read, a lot. Over the last few years I have been reading like a starving monster, consuming anything that gets in my path. Though there’s nothing wrong with that, I noticed that my reading goals list on Goodreads was pretty much ignored last year and I transferred most of it to this year. To remedy this, I’ve decided to add a reading section to my planner that includes at least two fiction novels, fiction short story collections, poetry collections and non-fiction books per month.

Here are January’s reading goals:

Fiction novels: Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd, The Outsider: A Novel by Stephen King

Fiction short story: The Neon Wilderness by Nelson Algren, America’s Emerging Writers (I finally got my paperback and I’m enjoying reading everyone else’s stories. Yay!)

Poetry: The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limon, Selected Poems (William Carlos Williams)

Non-Fiction: The Philippines: A Singular And A Plural Place, Fourth Edition (Nations of the Modern World) by David Joel Steinberg, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

 

If you have suggestions for what I should include in planner, I would love to hear from you. I hope you will join me in my experiment to plan ahead.

 

Happy Reading and Writing