I’ve never been one to use writing prompts to get myself writing. You’ve probably seen them, all kinds of open-ended one liners like “The peanut butter was on the counter…” and you’re supposed to run with it and write a paragraph, or 500 words or something. Those things just leave me cold, I get nowhere. Maybe I’m being temperamental, but it’s hard to get inspired by mundane lines like “Betsy arrived late at the party.” “Betsy” screams DULL to me. I either have to change the name (not like I ever do that, right?) or find something else to inspire myself. So I never thought I’d be able to write to a particular market, but guess what? I am firing on all cylinders when I find a market I want to write for. Who knew? I find them in various ways: Duotrope, Twitter, surfing the web. I’m a member of Duotrope (yes, I contribute $$ to them) which has a great tool for tracking markets you’re interested in. Here’s my “Favorite Markets” page. (also, please note the red in the “current needs status” boxes. If you’re using Duotrope, please send them $5 if you possibly can).
Their “Theme and Deadline Calendar” is another great way to see open markets and upcoming deadlines for submissions. I also keep a spreadsheet for publications I’m interested in submitting to with the upcoming deadlines. This focuses my attention on the writing like I never would have thought. So in addition to the vampire novel I’ve got a couple of short stories in the works, although I’m not sure I’m going to make one deadline in 11 days… argh. It could happen.
Anyway, I find that for me, tracking real markets is both inspiring with story ideas, and helps me get focused and quit playing around on the net. And with that, I’m off to work more on that short story due in a week!