One Quick Tip for Revitalizing Your Writing Life

creative nonfictionThose who have been reading this blog for the past, um, forever know I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump.

I’ve been feeling burnt out on the same old same old, lusting after lit mag credits, and wondering how to find a balance between the two.

As a result, I just slowly… stopped… trying. I maintained the work I already had, but stopped looking for something new. This has led to terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bank account balances.

Then, like flicking a switch, the ASJA conference sparked something in me.

Suddenly, I felt inspired. I felt motivated. And, almost like magic, things started picking up again.

A couple years ago, I asked all y’all: What’s on your magazine bucket list?

As I look through my own bucket list from that time, I’m amazed by how much my goals have changed. And maybe that’s a huge part of why I’ve felt so stuck lately. As I cling to the market I cornered for myself over the course of 11ish years, I haven’t reevaluated my bucket list. I haven’t asked myself: Which publications would you like to break into? I haven’t drawn up that list and started systematically chipping away at it.

Instead, I’ve stuck with the same old, same old.

And I wonder why I’m bored.

Just last week, I finally drew up a new list. It includes Poets & Writers and Creative Nonfiction. It includes Yoga Journal, because I’d like to start writing less about sex and more about yoga and wellness. It includes sites like The Rumpus, Book Riot, Flavorwire, and the Ploughshares blog, because I’d like to more fully indulge my bookish love. It includes Slate and Salon and the Hairpin. It includes Seal Press, which is my dream publisher in the event I ever publish a book.

Drawing up this list has helped me move forward. I’ve had queries and submissions out to a number of these publications. I’ve been revising my book proposal, and am even working on my very first piece of erotica, so I can send a submission in for a forthcoming Seal Press anthology. I’ve published yoga-related pieces on YourTango and Elephant Journal, so as to build up my clips in that particular niche. Just last week, I got my very first lit mag clip, on Virginia Quarterly Review’s website.

And this week, I even checked off one of my bucket list items, with a post over at Book Riot on how I grew up as a horror junkie.

And all it took was clarifying what I wanted, and then taking the steps to get there.

So what’s on your bucket list? Have you gotten a little too comfortable with the same old clients and editors? Is it time to make a change?

Related: What Kind of Writer Are You?, Choosing To Change Course Doesn’t Mean I Failed… Right?, Spill It: What’s On Your Magazine Bucket List?


  1. I never knew you were a horror buff. Did you grow up reading Fangoria? Cemetery Dance? Rue Morgue? Horrorhound? Did you ever go through a Lovecraft phase? (Well, you can’t really go through a phase – his language and cosmic vision get in your head and stay there. Indescribably resonant.) Have you read any Patrick McGrath? He’s one of the most literate horror writers on the planet. Vive l’horreur.

    • Actually, none of the horror magazines were even on my radar when I was growing up. It was all about whatever I could find to read in the basement. And man, when my parents got hooked on a writer, they got all his or her stuff. So much of my childhood was spent working my way through specific authors’ entire oeuvres.

      A friend did turn me on to Lovecraft in high school.

      I’m desperate for new horror these days. Adding McGrath to the must-read list, and I welcome any other recommendations you care to send my way! Thanks Michael!

  2. You must read McGrath. Even if you weren’t into horror, I’d recommend him for his exquisite prose style. And if you are really adventurous, read the work of John Hawkes. Not a horror author per se, but an experimental modernist American writer who suffused his work with an aura of strangeness and dread. Travesty, The Beetle Leg, The Cannibal, The Owl, The Lime Twig, Second Skin, Death Sleep & The Traveler, Lunar Landscapes – all of his the books are filled with striking language and arresting imagery.

  3. And how about Ramsey Campbell?

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