You might wonder whether there’s any point in subscribing to a print copy of a writing magazine since a plethora of writing sites and blogs exist online, offering prompts, hints, tips and more. Want to write steampunk dinosaur novellas in second person point of view? There’s probably a site for that. The beauty of the Internet is that we can search for the specific information that we need to inform our writing projects, but the risk is that we may narrow our focus so much that we miss out on things which might inspire our creativity, and improve our work.
It’s for that reason that I keep my subscription to Writing Magazine. This is a monthly publication catering to all manner of writers: poets, novelists, story-tellers, screenwriters, journalists and more. In addition to articles on the writing craft itself, the inner section, a magazine in it’s own right called Writer’s News, covers opportunities and competitions in a range of writing markets.
Each month I take the time to read it cover to cover. In the process I read interviews with authors whose work I wouldn’t otherwise consider, tips on genres I have little or no interest in writing (crime!), advice given to other aspiring authors in the letter pages, and the feedback offered on the winning entries to the magazine’s monthly competitions. I find some of the articles dull; others have only a line or two that interest me; and then there are those to which I go back, studying them to get the most out of the information.
Sadly I don’t have room to store an endless supply of writing magazines, so my other monthly task is to look back through the oldest magazine, and rip out the articles that I want to keep. I don’t bother with topics like self-publishing, which I know come back around on a regular basis, or social media, which is technology and so changing faster than the print medium can keep up with, just those which have sparked an idea or offered useful guidelines. The gutted remnant of the magazine then goes to it’s new home in the recycling bin.
When I first started I would add the new articles to the front of my file, but, a year or so in, I realised that I was going to need to index them in order to be able to find and use the information I’d saved. My filing system is simple, with sections for poetry, novel-writing, and genre, among others:
While I appreciate the wealth of resources online, and the option to write anywhere through apps like Evernote, I find that sitting down to flick through my file is a good way to relax and find some inspiration. It’s also a good starting point for researching specific projects, or refreshing myself in particular techniques. Should I decide that I need to access a particular article on the move, I can always use Evernote’s Scannable app to save copies of the articles directly into Evernote.
I appreciate this approach isn’t for everyone. Perhaps you only get to read during a commute, or you simply don’t have the time for such an elaborate scheme. Those of you who have moved beyond the printed page need not despair, however – Writing Magazine is available in electronic format, with the option to download a free sample and try before you buy. Be warned though – it’s habit-forming!