Motivation Through Shiny Stickers

I’ve tried several methods to increase my writing productivity. Daily word counts don’t work well for me, especially since I spend so much time revising. Often, I cut words during revision, and then I end up with a negative word count for the day. Not motivating. The goal to write every day isn’t great either, because when I inevitably miss a day, I feel bad.

But what does work for me? A neat calendar and fun stickers! I got the idea from another writer on a forum. Now I have a nifty calendar with pictures of space, and whenever I write, revise, or submit, I get a star. (A gold star for new writing.) If I finish a big project, I get a special sticker.

Guys, it is so much fun.

With the calendar, I have visual evidence of my work. (Too often, it feels like I’ve done nothing, because it takes so long for me to produce a finished story.) I’ve been writing down the stories I’ve been working on too, so I can track where I’ve been spending my time.

The best thing is, the calendar/stickers actually get me to write more. I don’t like to have an empty day, so I tell myself I’ll just work on something for a few minutes. Sometimes those minutes turn into an hour or two. I’ve only been using this method for a month, but in that month I’ve written almost every day. It’s worked much better than just being determined to write every day.

So, in conclusion, stickers are a great motivator!

Sale to Escape Pod

I’m pleased to announce that my short story “Windows” will be appearing in Escape Pod for Artemis Rising, a month-long event featuring women and non-binary authors.

This is my second sale, and the first one to a SFWA qualifying market, so I am very excited. Onward!

2015 Statistics

I always want to know about submission statistics. How many stories do most people send out? How many times do they get rejected? What’s the most common story length? Genre? Highest number of times rejected? Fastest acceptance? I’m not sure why I find submission statistics so fascinating–perhaps it’s just interesting to look at the data.

In 2015, I sent out 14 new stories, received 2 acceptances and 59 rejections. Both published stories were rejected 2 times before getting accepted. My most rejected story received 11 rejections. I trunked one story, and the rest are either submitted or waiting to be sent off.

My shortest story was 250 words. My longest 6,300. Most of my stories were flash fiction, or close to it, with 9 stories coming in at 1,500 words or less. The total number of words submitted was about 33,000. (But oh man, did I ever write a bunch of stuff that I never finished or immediately trunked without submitting.) I’d classify 7 stories as science fiction and 7 stories as fantasy. Until I categorized them all, I didn’t realize I’d written an even split. I didn’t do it on purpose–I just wrote what I felt like writing.) I submitted to pro, semi-pro, and token markets.

I should mention that I’m cheating, since these numbers also include the last few months of 2014 (when I started writing.) I also have a few stories that are basically done and just need some light revision, so those will be included in the 2016 statistics, even though I wrote them this year.

Overall, this was a decent year. Much better than I expected. I got something published. (Yay!) And I have another story coming out next year. That’s a win in my book.

The List

Up until this point, I’ve been submitting stories in a somewhat haphazard manner. Sure, I take notes about market guidelines and keep a whole bunch of spreadsheet to track my stories, but I don’t have a system for choosing where to send stories. I needed a system, so I made The List.

After looking at my data on various markets, I compiled an ordered list of magazines. It’s not fancy–just a long list of names–but now I won’t have to waste energy figuring out where a story goes next. Of course, I’ll still follow submission guidelines (so no novellas to places that only want flash fiction), but if the story fits the guidelines, I’m going to send it.

Before The List, I tried to match the story with the magazine, but it turns out I’m terrible at guessing what’s a good fit. And I think it’s too easy for writers to “self-reject”–to think that a market would never be interested, when in fact they might. I’m going to stop guessing what editors want and just send them my best writing.

I ordered my list based on a few factors. First, I prioritized markets on the SFWA qualifying list. That’s often a marker of good things, like stability and higher pay rates. (Also, it would be neat to qualify for SFWA someday.) After that, I considered a number of factors–response rate, reputation, payment, personal rejections, and how much I enjoyed the published stories. (I’d like to add in circulation statistics, when I have time to dig those up.) I also did some research on each magazine, trying to find out how published authors fared. (In other words, did anyone have a problem with contracts/payment or any other such difficulties?)

The list is tailored to the stories I write, and I expect it will shift around as I find new markets or as my writing changes. Hopefully this will streamline my submissions process a bit more.

Codex Writers

I’m super excited about joining Codex Writers–a group for neo-pro writers of speculative fiction. Everyone seems quite friendly, and I’ve already spent a couple of hours reading the forums.

There are a few ways to qualify for Codex membership, which leads me to my other exciting news. I’ve had a short story accepted by a pro market on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) list. This is only my second acceptance, so I was totally surprised and delighted. Once I sign the contract, I’ll post more details, but for now, I’m just going to squee a bit.