Good writing is a skill. It must be learned and honed through instruction, study, and constant practice. But the muses must also be fed if we want them to inspire us and, for a writer, that means reading. Stephen King, in his essential book On Writing, said it well: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
We recently shared some of our favorite books on the art and craft of writing. Now we turn our attention to eight magazines and literary journals, all of which supply regularly scheduled doses of knowledge and inspiration.
Studying the writer’s craft
Poets & Writers
6 issues per year
An excellent magazine for creative writers of all types, Poets & Writers is packed with in-depth profiles, essays on the writing life, and practical information. Their website adds forums, event listings, and a wide range of resources—from a database of independent small presses to weekly writing prompts.
Our favorite feature: The Grants & Awards section of Poets & Writers lists open calls for submission to grant programs, poetry prizes, writing fellowships, and more.
Quarterly, online only
This new, digital-only magazine has a unique focus: the relationship between money, writing, and life. Each issue is built around a theme and covers issues that matter to anyone trying to make a living from writing, such as contracts, freelancing, and the changing publishing industry. Scratch was founded in 2013 by publishing consultant Jane Friedman and editor Manjula Martin.
Our favorite feature: “The Scratch Roundtable” pulls together panelists from across the literary world for in-depth, open-minded conversations on important topics.
8 issues per year
With a history stretching over 90 years, WD will be familiar to anyone who’s serious about writing and publishing. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re writing fiction, memoir, or freelance, and the articles tend to be quick, easily digested reads.
Our favorite feature: Writer’s Digest is almost a world unto itself. Beyond the print magazine, WD offers a wealth of resources: workshops, conferences, competitions, and guides to the marketplace.
For the essayists among us, an issue of Creative Nonfiction is like two magazines in one. Each issue blends the quality writing of a fine literary journal with topical articles that can help writers succeed.
Our favorite feature: Issues are organized around themes that invite an eye-opening range of submissions. It’s wonderfully inspiring to see the way a single broad theme can manifest in diverse genres, styles, and subjects.
Learning by example: literary journals
This venerable British journal has published a veritable who’s who of important writers since 1979, from Martin Amis to Tobias Wolff. Each issue is organized around a unique theme, and presents short to medium-length fiction, essays, poetry, and photography in a distinctive, compact package.
Our favorite feature: The complete archives of Granta have been digitized and are available online to subscribers.
The Paris Review
Another legendary journal, the Review is based not in Paris but in the New York literary scene. But it has a global reach, with a remarkable 60-year history that includes some of the first published appearances of many literary heroes. Fiction and poetry ramble through the pages, offering surprises and delights at every turn.
Our favorite feature: “The Art of Fiction,” an ongoing series of lengthy interviews with the world’s great writers, all of which are archived on the Review’s website.
McSweeney’s / The Believer
The Believer: 6 issues per year
Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern is a unique literary journal. Founded by writer Dave Eggers in 1998, the periodical changes design—and even form—with each issue. It may appear as a magazine, a book, or an objet d’art, and the contents are equally eclectic. This is one publication that is never dull.
The Believer is a newer offshoot from the same publisher, containing interviews, essays, and reviews. Although it sticks to a standard magazine format, it has the same irreverent spirit asMcSweeney’s.
Our favorite feature: When every issue of McSweeney’s is completely different inside and out, it can’t help but change the way you look at literature.
Print: 2 issues per year
Proclaiming itself “a magazine of literature and rock & roll,” Radio Silence is a new publication out of San Francisco that blends a literary journal with a hip music mag, exploring the many ways these two arts interact. Radio Silence has already won a prestigious Pushcart Prize for small press excellence and presents sharp writing by top names.
Our favorite feature: Radio Silence challenges the notion of medium. There’s a semi-annual print journal, a monthly digital magazine, supplementary audio, and even live events.