What Month Is it Anyway?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Writers live in a different world. They even have their own calendar. What? You didn’t get the memo? Right now it’s November and December in Writer World. If you’re hoping to sell a magazine article about Thanksgiving or any of the winter holidays time is ticking away. Editors want those New Year’s party queries yesterday and the deadline is tomorrow!

When I first started writing magazine articles I had trouble remembering the Writer World Calendar. When spring burst on the scene I suddenly had dozens of gardening ideas. Editors laughed. OK, I couldn’t actually hear them laughing but I imagined them sitting around at lunch saying, “It’s April and she sent me a query on container gardening. Hahahaha!” Eventually I learned to set my query calendar three months ahead--six months for the big holidays like Christmas. The trouble was, I wasn’t feeling very “Spring-y” in January. All those great ideas I had when it actually was Spring(for normal people) had disappeared from my brain.

Enter Edwin G. Seibels! Actually Edwin’s cool invention: the filing cabinet. What did we do before he invented it in 1898? One drawer of my cabinet contains 13 file folders. One for each month and one for evergreen ideas that fit into any month. Today I was out in my garden thinking, “I should write an article on how to keep your dogs from digging up your gardens in their hopeless search for rabbits.” A few years ago that idea would have been written on a scrap of paper and lost sometime between now and next January. Now it goes in the April or May file folder. At the beginning of each month I troll through the appropriate month and find a whole list of ideas to send out to my favorite editors.

A year’s worth of file folders is also helpful when magazines have editorial calendars. You check out their new editorial calendar in January and notice that in November they’ll be covering cruise vacations. Will you remember that when it’s time to send them cruise queries at the end of July? You will if you have a note in your November file saying “Vacation Magazine wants cruise articles for November issue.”

So get out those file folders! And start filing away those Spring ideas.


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