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

 

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The Planner Experiment: Here Comes March

Here Comes March

I apologize for not getting this out yesterday as I intended, but I did get my story off to 3 Elements Review, so I’ll call that a win.

The Experiment So Far

So far, this experiment is doing exactly what I hoped it would do. I am aware of deadlines ahead of time and able to plan ahead for more opportunities and not feel caught off guard. I am becoming more familiar with hundreds of literary magazines both in print and online. I recognize the titles listed in other writers’ bios. I’m reading tons of short stories, poems and flash fiction and beginning to recognize the work of writers who are published often. It took the whole month for me to start using all of the elements of the daily pages. I was very concentrated on the submissions section at first. I was beginning to wonder if I needed the hourly table, but now that I’m using it, I think it is necessary. Thus, for my own purposes, this experiment is a smashing success so far.

The other aspect of the experiment which is to get feedback from you, my readers and use your feedback to make the daily pages better each week is not as successful. I have received some positive feedback on the design. Thank you. I hope as you use the pages, you will begin to let me know how to improve the pages for you.

Here is my February in review.

February goals met:

I submitted stories to literary magazines

I submitted poetry to literary magazines

I wrote and submitted new stories

I read a lot of short stories

I became familiar with many literary magazines

February goals not met:

The number of submissions was much lower than my goal, but still higher than every year’s submissions in the past. I hope to increase the amount of submissions each month.

The Numbers

Journal Submissions: 15

Other Submissions: 1 grant application, signed up for the writers games

Rejections: 5

Stories Written: 4- 1 short story, 1 flash, 2 micro

Books read: 10

novels 2

short story collections 3

poetry collections 3

craft books 2

short stories in literary magazines: did not keep track

Lessons Learned: a couple of the rejections I received said the work I sent wasn’t a good fit. Getting to know the journal better is the priority, not the deadline. If I really want to submit to a magazine with a deadline I may miss, it’s okay. I can submit next year, or during their next reading period.

Keeping Track Of Your Submissions

As you increase your story submissions, you will have stories submitted to multiple magazines at once. It is very important to track your submissions in a clear and organized way. When one of your stories is accepted for publication, you need to immediately withdraw that story from the other journals you submitted it to.

Create your own submissions tracker: I create tables in OneNote (microsoft office). I have a table for my stories and one for my poems My table has columns for the date of submission, name of the journal, name of the story, date of response, response and notes. I update it every time I submit or hear back from a magazine.

As my list of submissions grows, I may transfer this information to a Spreadsheet, so I can organize the data by story, or date, or response, etc. as needed.

Submittable

These days more and more journals are using the online submission portal Submittable for all of their submissions. Submittable automatically keeps track of all of your submissions through their portal. You can also save upcoming submissions that interest you.

Other Online options

Duotrope

Writers DB

Writer’s Digest Downloadable Spreadsheets

Sonar 3 free download

Triple Tracking Method from Writers Write

Here Comes March

This month is going to be hectic for me. I signed up for the Writers Games, so I will be writing a story a week to fulfill the challenges. I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into, but it should be fun and rewarding. Expect to hear a lot about the Writers Games this month.

One thing I didn’t do last month was keep track of all of the short stories I read in literary magazines. At the end of February, I designed a story analysis sheet that I plan to fill out for each story I read. I should have a lot of data about stories and the magazines that publish them by the end of this month.

New Goals

My main goal for March is to write great short stories. Toward that end I will experiment with my story analysis worksheet, at least three stories every day, and look for  ways to improve my stories toward publication.

The Deadlines:

I’m playing around with a mix of deadlines and reading period openings. Which would you rather see in the month’s deadlines section? Deadlines coming in that month, or future deadlines you can plan for, reading period openings?

The Daily Pages

Please download the month overview pages and these first few pages of March:

2019 Planner March opening pages

I look forward to your feedback. I’ll post a week of pages on Sunday.

Reading

I have a stack of books on hold at the library that I’m going to pick up today. On Sunday, when I present the week’s planner pages, I will let you know about my reading goals for March.

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!

New #LitMag+

fictional pairings

Tomorrow on Fictional Pairings  enjoy the music they pair to “Your New BAM-AG Home”

Almost every writer dreams of getting published. Most likely, that dream is the scene that comes after (and does not include) the effort involved in reading and researching hundreds of literary magazines, writing queries and perfecting submissions, only to receive rejection after rejection after rejection.

Finding the right place for your stories can feel elusive, but there is hope. New online magazines are cropping up and you can find them if you search diligently.

I recently happened upon some interesting online magazines that are right up my alley. Why do I call them #LitMag+ ? Because they offer something extra.

Fictional Pairings

As a musician as well as a writer, I am very excited about Fictional Pairings, an online magazine that pairs music from bandcamp.com with fiction and poetry.

My very short sci-fi story “Your New BAM-AG Home” is coming out tomorrow at Fictional Pairings. Please give it a read and enjoy the other stories and poetry with their musical pairings. I can’t wait to hear what they think my story sounds like.

The Evening Theatre

This magazine of the dark and macabre, premiering this month, will be setting up its issues like a theatrical performance with an opening act, a comedic interlude, a headliner, etc. I really like the premise and can’t wait for the firs issue.

Twistedsisterlitmag

For those of us that find our writing leaning to the dark and twisted, it can be hard to find a fit for our stories. Twisted Sister proudly lists their contributors on their Freaks and Wierdos page. I hope to join the ranks soon.

Speculative 66

This online magazine presents a fun challenge: to write a story in exactly 66 words. I feel inspired to give it a try. I enjoyed many of the stories in the current issue.

Have you been exploring new magazines to submit to and have some to add to my list? Please share in the comments. You can also add your finds on twitter #amsubmitting

Hope to see your work in the world of #LitMag+