Last week I showed you the content concepts and the general ideas behind Craft Leftovers Monthly–recycled, ad free, paid guests, patterns, goofy articles, illustrations and photos. Today I’m sharing with you how general ideas become specific patterns and articles. How does random inspiration from the blogs I read and doodles in my sketchbook become a 36 page zine each and every month?
Planning, time, and loads of list making.
It starts with a little long term planning. I pick some general themes for the next 6 months. I make a spreadsheet for each issue in Google docs. In each document, I set up the regular features and the general theme I’ve chosen.
Good ideas don’t happen over night. I know that for me, it takes a long time for ideas to incubate in my mind, on the pages of my sketchbook, and finally in my lists. Thinking about content 3-6 months ahead works like a charm.
As I go about my day, I collect all the fragments that fit into those themes–snippets I see on various blogs, things I happen upon around town, random thoughts flitting through my head. All these get dropped into my sketchbook, are bookmarked, and eventually get filed away into the appropriate spreadsheet.
At the last Sew N’ Swap when I decided to whip up this cute little owl, I opted to file his template away. I saved it for the current issue because I knew exactly what the theme was for July.
In April, I made this cute little chrysanthemum broach and gave it to my mom for Mother’s Day. Even though I immediately wanted to put it in this month’s issue (it was made from fabric scraps after all), I didn’t. I knew it would be best saved for September when mums are in bloom or even next May when Mother’s Day comes around again.
Knowing what’s coming up helps me know what to include as well as exclude from the issue I’m working on. Sometimes the issue isn’t having too few ideas, it’s having too many. There just isn’t room for everything each month. And that brings me to the next point.
Process of Elimination
About two weeks before an issue is due out (about the second week of each month) I make the decision on what to include and what to exclude. I want each issue to pack a punch, to really be the best it can. And for that I have to do a bit of weeding.
I make sure that everything that doesn’t go along with this month’s theme is really awesome and really needs to be included. I also double check my page count and get it right down to those 36 pages.
Granted, I keep a few ideas on the side, just in case I need them.
You know how it is, you think it’s the most amazing idea. When you go to actually make it, and it’s horrible. So instead of struggling with it, I’ve learned to keep a list of alternates. Sometimes I need an alternate simply because an article or pattern comes up a page shorter than I thought. It’s good to have some extra ideas on the back burner.
Checking off the to do list
Then once I’ve puzzled out what I want the issue to include, I write up the most massive to do list. I commit to paper each and every step of each and every part of the issue. For me, getting to cross of each step is so satisfying.
Just like any project, there comes a point where I start to flounder. I get stuck on “what comes next” or “I don’t feel like doing X.” With a complete to do list, I know there are about 100 other steps I can take that will continue the march toward the finish line. I can be from writing up the word list for the word find or mapping out what goes where.
And then it’s really a matter of just going through the to do list. Check, check, check. On it goes. And at the end, I’m finished.
I’ve noticed time and again that the months I skip this step are the months I falter. I’m late, stressed, or feel overwhelmed. The months I have my list right from the start? I am right on track and get it finished right on time, sometimes even a little early.
So last time I talked about what the zine contains, today I’ve covered how I come up with content each month. Wednesday I’m going to go over the nuts and bolts of how these ideas make their way onto the printed page and get to your mailbox. And just as exciting as that, come Wednesday, the July issue will be fresh off the presses and in the shop!