I subscribe to a number of writing newsletters that alert me of contests and open submissions. As an academic, I get lots of Call of Paper announcements, to which I can submit papers or presentation proposals to journals and conferences. Presentations have been easy for me to put together and perform. Judging scripts and manuscripts and reviewing journal articles have deadlines, so those tasks are relatively easy to perform. Not so with papers I want to submit unsolicited, and the stack is high.
My inbox probably receives about 50 of these every week. I get excited thinking, oh, I could submit X paper or Y paper, but wait, they both need revision for those journals or publishers. So, I keep the announcement in my inbox as a reminder, or I move the announcement to my Call of Paper or Contest file folders thinking I’ll go back in and find it when I’m ready to submit. (I spend a lot of time, getting excited, and then making goals.)
The problem is the deadline passes before I have time to dig the project out the pile or get it revised in the short time period. Sadly or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, I have a lot of papers that are finished but need revision work of some kind. Sometimes, it’s as simple as changing the style from APA to Chicago or MLA, but even that kind of revision takes time.
The problem is that I always feel I’m always behind and can’t get ahead. (Wait a minute . . . didn’t I just say that in a previous blog—Life’s Little Hiccups. Am I seeing a theme here?)
I prefer to work pro-actively. Is it possible that I’m performing this process backwards?
At one time, I thought tracking various deadlines would help. It didn’t. I became bogged down with maintaining a list I wasn’t even using, because my time was spent collecting these deadlines and on the spreadsheet I was creating from them, rather than on the writing.
The focus needs to change. My first step was to save these announcements in hardcopy format as it’s far easier to flip through a stack of papers than it is to open and close numerous e-mails. I created files folders: one for academic journals, one for Hollywood, and so forth, all within easy reach of my computer. DONE.
Why save them you ask? Because I’ve learned that many of these institutions repeat these contests, conferences, or calls, which leads me to my next step.
Second, my goal is to revise one paper at a time, until I think it’s ready for submission, then go search for an appropriate publisher, journal, agent, editor, and so forth. I’ll go to my hardcopy file folder and find an appropriate place for submission. If the deadline has already passed, the manuscript and the submission notice goes into a ticker file (by month) so that when the next deadline arrives, I’ll be ready. TO BE DONE.
As you can see, I’m in the middle of changing my methodology. I’m hoping this method will work. It’s one I’m going to put into implementation during this year’s Christmas break. If the method doesn’t work, I’ll have to revisit my process. Of course, I’m always open to ideas.
So, I’m wondering. How do you deal with the plethora of ideas, getting them finished, and then submitted? Was it a struggle for you in the beginning? Have you found your rhythm? Or do you still struggle with the entire process?