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

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Planning For #NaNoWriMo: Plotting with Tarot

Koscej Nesmrtni by Ivan BilibinThis will be my third adventure into National Novel Writing Month. My first two were “wins” as in I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days, however, they have stayed in their not-quite-fully-realized draft state since their conception and that is not what I hope for this year’s novel.

Like my very first novel, this idea somewhat landed on my doorstep. Well, more like it showed up for my dad in the garage. I’ve been thinking about it for months and it has turned into a twisted saga of super-fun proportions.

Because it has more twists and turns, characters and settings than my previous work, I wanted to approach it in a new way. I have decided to add a little more plotting to my plantser and try something completely out of my element.

Plotting your novel using the Tarot

Before last week, I had never had a Tarot deck; I had no idea what any of the cards meant and I would have never imagined using the cards. However, I was reading Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo which talked about plotting with the Tarot and my writing buddy was talking about using Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch to plan her NaNoWriMo novel, so I came up with an idea.

I found printable color your own tarot cards on Tarot Taxi and decided to create my own tarot deck. I love symbolism and as I go through the month, using the cards to plot my novel, I plan to artistically collage them with my own imagery.

If you’re not interested in coloring and creating your own cards and would like to buy a deck, you may want to look at some of these Tarot cards.

To learn the meanings and interpretations of my cards, I went to Psychic Library.com while I waited for some library books that I put on hold.

Making the cards

Making the hanged man

What I used:

printed black and white card images
scissors
glue sticks
a ruler
a pencil
scrapbook papers
decorative sticker paper

I cut a selection of scrapbook papers to 1/2″ larger than the tarot images on all four sides then cut out and glued the images onto the papers. I let the images choose which paper design worked best with them.

For the laminated backing I chose to cut different portions of Victor Bilibin’s painting of a Knight who hacked off the heads of a three headed dragon. I love the colors and had a bunch of stickers to recycle.

hanged man back

I watched some YouTube videos on learning the meaning of the cards and how to do a reading while I made all the cards. In Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo it shows how to use the Celtic Cross spread to plot scenes in your novel. Here is my first reading.
My first celtic crossThough it looks like I might not have shuffled by the amount of wands and swords in the reading, I assure you I shuffled a ton. The cards actually make sense for my character and my story. I was pretty impressed.

I’ll be doing both the Celtic Cross readings and The Hero’s Journey reading from Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch throughout NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Inspiration

So what do I have planned to stay motivated this year? All sorts of fun stuff. I learned from #Writober that I like combining lots of different prompts, so every day this month, I’ll be providing visual prompts, word prompts, poetry prompts, a poem, a tarot card reading, writing exercises and everything else that I find inspiring.

This year I donated to NaNoWriMo and received a prompt poster. Many of the prompts are geared more toward short stories, but some of them will make their way into my daily posts. I also bought the Writer Emergency Pack which is a deck of cards with prompts that I’ll be mixing in.

Like #Writober I’ll have specific headings that I’ll repeat every day and a daily poem. Unlike #Writober, the days will not be random. I have a plot-structure method to my madness. Each day will follow the Hero’s Journey and I will also try to map it to the story beats of Save The Cat! and the Simple Tasks of Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days.

I have pulled out all of my references for this (literally; the house is a mess) and will be pulling inspiration from all my favorite resources. If you like something I’m referencing, it will most likely have come from one of the books in the list below. Click the link, and get yourself a copy to enjoy all year long.

Bibliography:

Books on Writing: These are the books I’ll be using and referencing this month.

Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo
Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition by Christopher Vogler
Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)
Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers by Barbara Baig
Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days by Denise Jaden
Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction (Creative Writing Essentials) from the Editors at Writer’s Digest
Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell
Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell
Writing for Emotional Impact: Advanced Dramatic Techniques to Attract, Engage, and Fascinate the Reader from Beginning to End by Karl Iglesias
Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months by John Dufresne
The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Anderson
Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen
Writing for Self Discovery: A Personal Approach to Creative Writing by Myra Schneider and John Killick
Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer
This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosely

Books on Tarot

The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life by Jessa Crispin
The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien
Mary K. Greer’s 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary K. Greer
Tarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards by Anthony Louis

Reference Books

The Elements of Style 4th edition with revisions by William Stunk Jr. and E. B. White
The Wrong Word Dictionary: 2,000 Most Commonly Confused Words by Dave Dowling
The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers (6th Edition) by Chris M. Anson
A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Robert A. Schwegler

Fiction: Don’t forget to pick out some good books to read in November! I picked:

A Man Called Ove by Frederic Backman
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park
The Hiding Place by David Bell

Happy Reading and Writing!

I hope you’ll join me and find lots of inspiration here at Experience Writing!