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?
Derrick Laux is a student of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences majoring in English Literature. He is Superstition Review’s Administrative Team Manager, head of the Administrative Team. This semester he is a senior.
Superstition Review: What do you do for SR?
Derrick Laux: I manage four interns in areas of administrative duties including advertising, reading series, funding & development, and contests. My job is to create workflows, manage deadlines and be available to answer any questions and assist with the workload in each of these four areas.
SR: How did you hear about or get involved with Superstition Review?
DL: I contacted Trish Murphy, our Editor-in-Chief, with questions about a couple of specific fall and summer courses and told her that I was looking for an opportunity, like an internship, that would help prepare me with some marketable skills and resume building attributes. She said she needed some help managing the workload for Superstition Review and it seemed like a perfect fit at the perfect time. I was afraid that my schedule would not allow me the freedom to partake in an internship that required a lot of physical presence on campus, so when she informed me that the majority of the work was done online, I saw something that could potentially work.
SR: What is your favorite section of SR?
DL: Personally, I like the interviews. I love knowing background information about authors and artists and the opportunity to get to know them on a personal level. Their writing affects and influences so many people that I just think it’s really neat to humanize them for a brief instant and see what makes them tick, what they do in their everyday lives, and what inspires them.
SR: Who is your dream contributor to the journal?
DL: Most of the time, I don’t feel qualified enough to answer a question like this or make any kind of literary assessments due to the limited nature of my reading. In comparison to others, I feel like I’m very under-read, but if I could pick anyone right now, it would be a writer from the American Southwest, namely Leslie Marmon Silko. I’ve not read a lot of her work, but I’m absolutely infatuated with Ceremony and the spiritual healing that characterizes that book. It’s beautiful. Anyone that can write something like that, I’d like to see more of their work, especially something exclusive to Superstition Review. I’m falling in love with the Southwest and really feel like it’s neat if we can publish local authors representative of the region that we represent as a literary magazine. Rudolfo Anaya, Barbara Kingsolver, and other contemporary Southwestern writers would be my ideal contributors.
SR: What job, other than your own, would you like to try out in the journal?
DL: I think I’d love to be either the Web Design Editor or the Interview Coordinator. I’m infatuated with logos, graphics, and the overall visual appearance of things. I feel like you only get one chance to make a first impression, and the design of a page usually either clicks the interest switch on or off in a person’s head. Great design is an attention grabber and sets an immediate successful tone while poor design shuts people off in an instant. Their minds are already tainted with bad thoughts if the design isn’t up-to-par. I think being the interview coordinator might be just as fun and rewarding because as I stated before, I love getting to know people on a personal level to see what makes them tick and inspires them to write the things that influence and move our everyday lives.
SR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming issue?
DL: The new design of the webpage and the reading series. I feel like there’s so much potential for both to help establish Superstition Review’s name and get the word out about our publication. Never before have I had the access to deal with such established and talented writers. The chance to meet some of them and even host them at one of our readings is a big goal of mine that really excites me.
SR: What are you currently reading?
DL: I’m currently reading whatever is assigned for my classes. Luckily, the books have been interesting. Recently, I just finished Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote and Double Indemnity by James M. Cain. I thought Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a great book, far better than the film.
SR: What are some of your favorite websites to waste time on or distract you from homework?
DL: Nfl.com and as of late, Craigslist. I’m trying to get set-up in my new place and Craigslist is a life-saver. There’s a lot of good stuff on there whether you’re poor or not.
SR: What would be your dream class to take at ASU? What would the title be and what would it cover?
DL: It would be a class called either “NFL Football” or “American Microbrews.” Beer has become such a hobby of mine and I love spending my free time finding out more about new beers and breweries. It’s the new wine tasting in this country because there are so many good microbreweries out there. Football is self-explanatory. If you don’t like football, there’s something wrong with you; I don’t care how nice you are.
SR: What are your feelings on digital medium?
DL: I like the easy access that technology provides, but it really does leave me feeling jaded and detached at times. I can’t argue with the convenience that new developments like Kindle provide, but most times I see someone using a device like that and think, “Man, I really miss the simplicity of a paperback book.” There’s a lot of quality stuff to be said in blogs out there, but I just don’t like the feeling of sitting behind a screen all day long. It does things to people and its very dehumanizing, especially when I catch myself being mesmerized by the computer.
Writers, Artists, and SR Editors all find themselves wound up this week, as our submissions period is ending. We have hit the home stretch, and will quickly race towards home base and our second issue release.
Remember, the fall-winter submissions period ends on October 31st.
Also coming up is Superstition Review‘s final reading event on November 17th. Our final reading will feature pieces by Arizona State University Creative Writing students.
Mark your calendars and get ready for the next step in issue 2 of Superstition Review!
One of the difficulties in working on a national literary publication–or any publication, I imagine, is the waiting time. There’s an irregular mixture of passivity and activity in keeping the cogs turning and smoothly running.
For example, submissions. Right now, passively our editors are receiving the flow, flood, or trickle of pieces sent in. Actively, they have sent in solicits to known writers at the beginning of our reading period. Additionally, actively, they’re rejecting and accepting the submitted work. Passively, you are waiting to see who makes the cut.
Deadlines are the thing, you see, that gives it all a sinister bend.
Sometimes, these are easy to meet. When we’ve all got passive work, most likely. Sometimes they charge dauntingly toward us, head on like a game of chicken we can’t afford to lose. As loud as one might scream and as strenuously as one might tug out one’s hair, we’ve really got to take those mad deadlines head on.
I lay awake at night, trying to remember if I’ve managed to pack in all the work I needed to, or if the deadly screaming deadlines won out.
Much like Chuck Norris, Superstition Review doesn’t sleep…it WAITS.
As we busily work toward the publication or our first issue, we are in the process of collecting bios for the 31 contributors that will have their work published in our April issue.
We at Superstition Review believe that knowing a little about the author often enhances the understanding of their work – it will also give you the opportunity to discover what authors you like and will give you the chance to find out more about them.
But remember, many writers will purposely write something that they have not personally experienced in an attempt to broaden their scope.
So keep your eyes peeled for more information about the writers that will be featured in the April issue of Superstition Review!