Project Manager Please!

Writing is a passion. It is a siren’s call to get the story out, to create something that is timeless, that speaks to the very souls of readers. It is also messy.

Messy because, though writers are a creative bunch, they are not always very organized. If you could see my desk right now, you’d understand. Papers, pens, books everywhere. The hard drive on my computer looks much the same—folders and files stashed here and there willy nilly.

Writers are also procrastinators, especially when it comes to revising a once-loved first draft or submitting work to journals or contests.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a project manager, someone to set deadlines, to help set realistic goals, to hold us accountable for our actions, or more accurately, our inaction?

The Review Review recently published an article that addresses this very subject entitled “Does Your Writing Need a Project Manager?” by Lita A. Kurth. In the article, Kurth explains how she planned a seven week block of free time for writing using the skills of her friend, a project manager. Of her experience she says:

“I was astonished to see how quickly seven weeks passed. In the end, despite acquiring a high-energy dog, I accomplished all my major goals without burning out and without strict adherence to a schedule.”

We don’t all have project manager friends, but we can follow the same steps Kurth followed to help us be more effective writers. These steps are:

* Set goals and deadlines – No one gets anything done with an indefinite or hazy deadline. Make a goal and set a deadline. Period.

* Set realistic goals – You probably can’t write a book in a week (not a very good one anyway) so don’t set unrealistic goals like that. You want to set goals that you can accomplish and feel good about, but that don’t make you crazy.

* Make a schedule – Be honest with yourself and set priorities when making a schedule. Writers are also parents, spouses and friends. You have other interests beyond writing. Plan a schedule that gives you time (being realistic, remember) to do other stuff than just write.

* Keep track of your work – Kurth mentions her aversion to spreadsheets, but by the end of the seven weeks she realizes how useful they are. Keeping track of what you are working on saves time by eliminating confusion and duplication of work.

To read more about Kurth’s seven week adventure, click here.

So what do you think? Does your writing need a project manager?

 

Intern Highlight: Tana Ingram

Fiction Editor Tana Ingram is a senior at Arizona State University, majoring in Literature, Writing and Film. She will graduate December 2011 with honors and a certificate in Multimedia Writing and Technical Communications. After graduation, Tana plans on attending graduate school for creative writing. This is Tana’s first semester at Superstition Review.

Click on the link below to hear Tana read from one of her stories.

Tana Ingram

What We’re Reading

Here’s what Superstition Review interns are currently reading.

Corinne Randall, Poetry Editor: Right now I am currently reading my FAVORITE Shakespeare plays, Othello. Like all good Shakespeare tragedies it has a sad ending but it’s powerful through and through.

Samantha Allen, Art Editor: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. It’s a blend of literary fiction and sci-fi, a character-driven story about “Snowman” — formerly Jimmy — who appears to be the last man on Earth. Through Snowman’s flashbacks, the reader sees a near-future image of a North American city segregated into the slummy ‘pleeblands’ and the enclosed communities owned by corporations engaged in research on genetic modification. Though Atwood includes some seemingly-fantastical elements in her novel, her research is so thorough and impeccable that through her narrator’s detailed explanations, the outlandish feels entirely realistic. Her emotionally intense prose and air of scientific authority make Oryx and Crake a very compelling read.

Ljubo Popovich, Poetry Editor: I just got into Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño. I recommend his long novels: The Savage Detectives and 2666. Also his collections of short stories are excellent. The one I read was Last Evenings on Earth. He writes about lives of writers in South America and Europe. He founded the poetry movement InfraRealism in South America and is considered the heir to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s literary triumphs. I also read Masuji Ibuse’s collection of short stories, Salamander and other stories. This Japanese writer is [rather] unknown in the United States. But his historical novel Black Rain, about the events leading up to and following the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is considered one of the greatest novels to come out of Post-War Japan. His prose is very easy to read and very beautifully rendered, even in translation.

Jake Adler, Art Editor: Guyland by Michael Kimmel. It’s a sociological study about how today’s boys in college are failing to grow up, thrusting themselves deep in frat life and “guy code.”

Tana Ingram, Fiction Editor: Train Dreams by Denis Johnson. It’s about a day laborer, Robert Grainier, in the American West at the start of the twentieth century. The book follows Robert through difficult trials of his own set against the changes taking place in the country as “progress” sweeps the nation. Johnson does a good job of transporting the reader back to this turbulent time and place in America’s history.

Marie Lazaro, Interview Editor: Just Kids by Patti Smith. So far the way it is written is beautiful and the story is easily captivating. It explores a new side of Patti Smith, gives insight to the personal relationships she had with her family during her childhood and gives a look into her bond with Robert Mapplethorpe.