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  • Insider Advice for Submitting to 3Elements Review

    At 3Elements Review, people often ask us questions about submitting work: what to write, how to submit, due dates, and how to capture the attention of our editors. Today, I’ll offer a primer on submitting to 3ER as well as insider advice that might increase the odds that we’ll accept your work.

    First, always look up the elements for the submission period. Quarterly, we offer a specific challenge to writers that they use all three of the elements in each of their fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction submissions. The magazine’s current elements always can be found under the “Submit” menu on our website; elements for the March 1st deadline are: terminal, 6324, and bare. We hope our eclectic mix of terms will inspire interesting writing, but will not accept your written submission–no matter how interesting– if each does not include all three elements (words) in an organic, interesting way. There’s no need to bold or highlight the elements in your submission; however, we do ask that the terms be used with fidelity and as an integral part of the body of the work. Insider tip: slapping the terms into a the title of a piece is not acceptable. We want our elements to inspire new work or significantly revitalize the work of our writers and artists, not be haphazardly forced into a work previously written or created.

    We ask that both fiction and creative nonfiction pieces be between 500 and 3500 words. A writer is allowed to submit up to three fiction or creative nonfiction pieces per submission period, but we require that the submissions be separate. We list no word minimum or maximum for poetry and invite poets to submit up to five poems. Unless you feel your poems are a “set” that must be published together (a decision that might decrease the likelihood of publication), we prefer that you submit poems separately as well. Simultaneous submissions are fine as long as you do us the courtesy of withdrawing your piece as soon as it is accepted elsewhere.

    Art and photography need only reflect one of the elements, though we prefer creative work that incorporates all three. Insider tip: we would love to receive more art and photography for 3ER!

    We are currently reading many interesting submissions for the March 1st publication. We’d love to read your work. When you send us something, please send your thoughtfully revised and edited work. We are always sad to decline an interesting piece because of sloppy editing!

    Please refer to the “Submission Guidelines” menu for more information about what we like to read and how to submit your work. We look forward to publishing you!

    Have a question about submitting I haven’t answered? Post it below! 

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    Starting Your Own Blog

    At 3Elements Review, we are committed to bringing great new literature and art to our audience, which we want to be as wide as possible. A large audience makes for a better review, because the audience becomes the people that submit. We will get a larger selection of items from myriad voices and artists, and one way to bring new audience members into an online journal is to maintain a blog. An active blog can create more tags for your website, and can help direct traffic to it, which can help build your readership.

    However, sometimes there isn’t much to blog about. We are in the process of reading and choosing material for our third issue (I can’t believe we’re already at three!), and there isn’t much news to report–it’s cold in both Iowa and Illinois, where the staff of 3ER lives, and we are getting ready for another Polar Vortex. (Or maybe it already came? I can never tell. I’m from the south, and everything below 40 feels like a Polar Vortex to me.)

    So, if you’re starting your own blog, I suggest a few things.

    Interact with your readers. Try to start a conversation with readers. Are there questions you can ask them? Maybe put them in italics at the end of the post, like in this one.

    Have set topics. You’ll notice that we have conversations with authors that we’ve published in our blog. We also tend to blog about writing tips, updates at 3ER, and information on the staff. We have a regular, rotating set of ideas, but sometimes we still need some. We like knowing what is interesting to our readers and addressing them in our blogs.

    Encourage your friends and family to read your blog. You’ll need a group to initially read your blog, because unless you’re very creative with tags, it will be hard to get those initial readers with the first blog. They can help spread the word, and then your blog will start reaching many more readers.

    Good luck if you’re starting a blog! And, remember, blogs can be really fun! So, make sure to have fun with yours.

    What are some topics on which you would like to see 3ER blog? Leave us your ideas in the comments below!

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    Generating Great Writing All the Time

    Are you looking for inspiration? If, like me, you live in an a region recently vexed by a polar vortex or generally inhospitable winter weather, you might find yourself preferring hibernating to writing. But writer’s block is not weather-specific and strikes even in the best climates. Whether you haven’t written for years or are simply looking for new ways to spark creativity as writer, participating in a generative writing group can enhance your work, spike your creativity, and fill up that intimidating blank page.

    Years ago, I led a writer’s group focused solely on “workshopping” stories and poetry– giving verbal and written feedback to pieces participating writers had previously penned and were courageous enough to present to the group. Satisfying moments emerged in that setting, but I soon saw the group and its writing wither on the vine because people simply stopped writing and/or ran out of new writing to share. Believe me, it’s no fun to facilitate (or participate in) a writing group where only you–or sometimes no one–is writing anything new. People drop out of the group. The committed (one or two) writers feel abandoned.

    But then I discovered the magic of running a writing group centered on actually generating writing. I have Patricia Lee Lewis (Writing Retreats) and the Amherst Writing Method (Amherst Writers) to thank for this new approach. Any writer, whether novice or expert, can use this method to produce astounding new writing. I currently run a small but productive generative writing group called Tuesday Night Ink. Every Tuesday we meet, write, and share our work. Participating in this group has vastly increased both the quantity and quality of the writing I do. After group ends, I post our prompts to our Facebook page, which can be found here if you’re interested.

    Participating in a generative writing group can transform your writing. The effect is something like the difference between trying to get in physical shape at home versus in a class at the gym. Playing the yoga DVD in the privacy and solitude of your living room can be uninspiring. Admit it, you’ve watched that DVD while eating ice cream (or is that just me?). Participating in a writing group is like taking a class at the gym. You simply find yourself working harder in the group setting.

    If you want to write more, find or start such a group. Meet at least weekly. Write together and then listen deeply as others read. Share what stays with you about each piece. This may feel awkward at first, but you will grow in your ability to give feedback. Such a group creates sacred space for writing. You can find writing prompts all over the “interwebs” or in a myriad of books. I always give at least three prompts to appeal to all writers. You can find what works for your group and even assign the responsibility of bringing new prompts to different people to encourage variety. Once you’ve gathered, write together for a half-hour or forty-five minutes or even an hour on prompts. Then ask participants to read aloud what they have written. Lastly, the group gives positive feedback focused solely on what “stays with others” about what was written.

    Here are the rules that work for us:

    1. Confidentiality is important. What’s shared in group should never leave the group.

    2. Prompts or exercises are considered suggestions. If a writer has a burning desire to write something else, honor that. There is no wrong way to write and no writing that is considered off-task.

    3. All writing is treated as fiction. When participants respond to writing, they refer to the character or speaker of a poem, not the writer–even if/when the writing seems obviously autobiographical.

    4. All feedback focuses only on the strengths of the work–or “what stays with you.”

    5. All participants are considered writers and honored as such.

    This generative and encouraging method was developed and outlined by Pat Schneider in her landmark book, Writing Alone and With Others.

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