Friday Fun — Writing Magazines: Yes, No, Sometimes

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Do you subscribe to any writing magazines such as Poets & Writers or Writer’s Digest? If you do subscribe, do you actually read them? If you do actually read them, what value do they deliver for you?


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: Oh, the shame! The shame! I subscribe to both publications mentioned in the question, but I rarely read them. They arrive in the mail all slick and crisp and full of inspiration and potential, but – sadly – they are soon languishing alongside their brethren in a slightly beat up wicker basket next to my desk.

It’s not that I want to neglect them. I am sure that they contain all kinds of very valuable information – articles on craft, opinion pieces, how-I-did-it stories from experienced (and successful) authors, details on contests, submission tips, and so on (and on and on). It’s just that whenever I do find (or, more accurately make) time to read, what I really want to read is an actual story – you know, fiction.

Though I do feel a terrible guilt when I look at my now disheveled collection of writing magazines, I figure that I do a pretty good job of keeping up with the topics they cover via the blogs I read. Could I do more? Sure I could. But then I’d have to give up on reading stories. And that’s not gonna happen.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I subscribe to several writing-related magazines for fiction and non-fiction, and just can’t keep up with them! When I go to the gym I bring a couple to read while I’m on the cardio machines, but ever since I started running, I seldom go to the gym. And I can’t read and run at the same time (outside).

I will make time to read them again at some point. Right now, they remain in piles, and the stacks get higher every few weeks when the latest edition arrives.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: A couple of years ago I stopped subscribing to magazines. Period. They were stacking up, I wasn’t reading them, and it was making me crazy. I am experimenting with reading a couple on my tablets/phones (Google newstand), to varying degrees of success. I do buy writing magazines on occasion, but not often. And I often get them in conference bags. That said, I think I should experiment with an online version.

I am going to start getting Mystery Scene and Crimespree again. They are more industry magazines, and very supportive of writers and the genre. And I will buy magazines with short fiction, especially when I know one of the writers.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I’ve subscribed in the past, but the unread magazines piled up and, like Jamie, I felt guilty about it. So I stopped subscribing, which felt much better. When I’m getting on a plane or heading out on vacation I’ll happily buy whatever current writing magazines are available and read them cover to cover. I’ve gotten a lot of good tips and advice from writing magazines, but I find small doses help me with motivation and inspiration, while large doses lead to overwhelm and lack of motivation (as in, someone’s already written it better than I could, so what’s the point?) My favorite magazine to pick up and read is Writer’s Digest.

dll2013Deborah Lee Luskin: I’m definitely a member of the Been-There, Done-That camp: subscribed to both Poets & Writers and Writer’s Digest in the past (but never at the same time), and rarely read them. Occasionally, I’ll read one at the library. I do subscribe (and read!) The New Yorker, and a few other magazines (including all those alumni magazines from my college and graduate schools, my husband’s college and graduate schools, and my three kids’ various schools) and newsletters from the many organizations we support – it’s a lot! I prefer books on writing – some of which I’ve reviewed on this blog: Unless It Moves the Human Heart, Bird By Bird, and Writing to Change the World, to name three.

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: Count me in with everyone else. I don’t subscribe but I do pick up a copy of Writer’s Digest every now and then. The problem is that if I don’t read *every* single article, I feel like I may be missing something and so I hold onto the publication (and hold on and hold on.) Not a good feeling to be reminded you have finished something and that it’s literally weighing you down.

Now I buy “special” editions (non-fiction and memoir) and more importantly I pay attention to what I read that catches my eye. I recently read an article online on the Newtown shooter’s father in The New Yorker and I purchased a copy of the magazine so that I could dissect that brilliantly written piece.

Susan Nye:
Nope. I have found that the best way to improve my writing is to write. And then, write some more.

8 thoughts on “Friday Fun — Writing Magazines: Yes, No, Sometimes

  1. I used to subscribe to a magazine by the name Reader’s Digest. I did put in loads of effort to make it worth the money I spent on it. It did seem useful at first. I mean, it gave me valuable tips about certain problems we face in our everyday life. Then there was this column which described some select stories of some real people. But then, as time went, it kind of faded in the background. I slowly started losing interests in it with time. I still do have the passion for reading intact. I still read a lot. Somehow, I lost my liking for it. It was another two months before my dad found out that I hardly spend any time reading it and he unsubscribed it. Guess, I was glad in a way to get rid of it.

    P.S Reader’s Digest is not a writer’s magazine, its just a monthly which I thought would inspire me to do something useful with my life and it did not.

  2. I’m sure glad I’m not the only one with carefully filed, mostly unread magazines and journals! I know the information is valuable, but I sure haven’t figured out a system in my already swamped life to fit in reading them in a beneficial way. If I do read, I have to admit I would rather read a book! Even with blogs, I tend to hit or miss on reading them unless they are fairly short.

  3. Interesting you should have piece on subscribing to Writing Magazines. I used to get one called “Freelance Market News” – as far as I know this was subscription only.
    Recently I picked up a copy of Writing Magazine, attracted by the cover story that says they are listing over 200 comps to enter. This is fine until you see that some comps are for writers under 25, others for writers in a particular geographical area…but yes, I am sure it will be useful if and when I get around to reading it!

  4. Of course what you’re all saying is that you’d rather analyse how it’s done than be told about it. I agree. Of course this blog is a mix of useful tips and how to. 🙂

  5. Yep, I have that stack of unreads as well. I have since stopped spending my money on them. Susan Nye has the best advice any magazine could ever offer. Just write. 🙂

  6. I am definitely on the same boat. Although, I just flew from TN to KS, and I read the March/April issue of WD cover to cover. Great issue on freelancing.

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