One of the best resources I've discovered for writers is Duotrope. This website has caused me to completely change my writing habits and begin to take my writing more seriously. I can keep track of exactly which pieces I've submitted and to which publications. There is a plethora of useful information and statistics related to the journals themselves such as turn-around time, acceptance rates, etc. Simultaneous subs? Keeps track of those, too. The market database and search is invaluable for deciding where to send your work and also exposes me to journals I may not have otherwise considered. It's free but you can make donations if you like, and if you use their services I think you should.
Duotrope allows me to see my acceptance rate* at a glance and this motivates me like you wouldn't believe. I'm one of those people who competes with myself on a daily basis. Within view at this very moment is an index card I tacked up with a writing goal for the day, week, and month related to a novel I'm working on. It's annoying as hell because I'm behind at the moment. I'm sure it's a dysfunction of some sort, but it gets me through the day & I'm getting shit done, so I'm okay with that. Basically Duotrope helps me to organize the process of submitting and tracking my writing, but it doesn't help with writing part of it. THAT you have to do yourself. Yep. That's the thing about being a writer; you have to actually write something.
I came across this today...
...and I've decided to give it a try. The idea is to write and submit one piece each month or week. I'm opting for one a month because if I tried to write one a week my head would explode. Seriously, I have enough going on already. I think it's a good idea though, if for no other reason than it's inspired by Ray Bradbury's approach to writing and publication and let's admit it - Bradbury is the mack daddy of short story writing. Just look at him.
If you've never read Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, or The Illustrated Man, you have not lived. I've been inspired by Bradbury for years. Make that decades. A couple of years ago in October (the absolute best month for this sort of thing, take my word for it), I was riding the city bus to and from work and I checked out the audio version of Something Wicked This Way Comes from the library on a whim. I hadn't thought about the story in years, and I was immediately hooked. I was disappointed each day when I arrived at work and one day I intentionally rode way past my stop and had to backtrack because I was in the middle of a good part.
I'm nearing the end of a book right now - Dancer by Colum McCann - but I'm inspired now to forego that and go grab a Bradbury book instead. It's rainy and windy outside, which is uncommon for Albuquerque, and seems just right for cuddling up with a book. Luckily for me, I have several Bradbury books on my shelves.
From a writer's standpoint, Bradbury is an inspiration to me. I think I may have imagined him to be one of those fantastically gifted writers from whom gorgeous sentences flow forth with little or no effort. It's refreshing to hear of his many rejections and years of perseverance. Every time I receive a rejection, I call out to my husband, "I'm still a writer!" He knows exactly what I mean. I'm going to keep doing this and remind myself that I'm in good company.
*Regarding acceptance rates: If you're a numbers person, I realize that exactly how this # is calculated can affect whether or not it's truly accurate. (Yes, Sheldon, I'm talking to you. Let's pretend that we're not talking about acceptance rates here, but that we're making chitchat.) For instance, is my rate being compared with those in the same genre? Differing lengths? Which types of publications? I personally think Duorope does a fairly good job of cranking the numbers, but it relies on accurate information being input by the authors themselves. If you're curious, click here. I'm pretty sure you'll be able to view that without logging in. Anyway, as long as I'm comparing apples to apples each month, i.e., I'm consistently entering accurate information and comparing it with my own information from the past, I believe I'm getting something useful. All I really want to accomplish here is personal improvement and motivation. Going to read now.