The Editorial Planning of a Newsletter

A work in progress on method and process.

A few years ago, I started putting together a newsletter to capture the essence of a collection of my work. It is a place for me to share my essays, photos, and paintings, each with varying emphasis on life, culture, art, and ecology. It is, essentially, a synthesis of my life and values.

My hope is that as I create and share these collections, folks will find meaning and relevance to their own lives. Or at the very least, a bit of inspiration.

A seascape of blue hues. Photo of my painting, acrylic on paper. © Dawn Nelson.

At first my newsletter began as a way for me to post photographs and write about environmental topics and life in general in a deindustrialized industrial landscape. Soon after I started integrating other creative pursuits and it has become more dynamic over time. It is a multi-media work in progress.

Now this publication is evolving as an entirely new entity — whether a newsletter or magazine or journal or something else altogether — it is definitely its own thing. And since earlier this spring, after I started to write the 0100 series (a collection of short essays), I am compelled to plan longer environmental essays. Exciting, yet daunting. It takes time to research and write in depth on a topic, and the resources to do it well.

This presents a new decision point for me on how to sustain my ventures.

While there are a few strategies I will implement, there is a trending favorite I would be remiss not to try. So in the past month, I finally established my newsletter on Substack. While this platform provides a mechanism to eventually garner some income, it will still take sweat equity to get it there.

As I work on my editorial strategy and set a writing schedule with specific goals for my essays, now is a good time to take stock of what I have going on.

a picture of a newsletter header with a photo of a paw print in the sand
The header for my spring 2022 newsletter. © Dawn Nelson 2022

A brief overview: the main sections of my existing newsletter include a lead story and photo essay (often focused on Lake Erie), the points of which may be explored in my Tuesday livestream series. Following this, there is a short summary of my latest notes on ecology and conservation efforts. These environmental topics are also sometimes documented in my experimental videos (which may also be scored with my own music). From there, perhaps some notes on literature.

It has been an exploratory endeavor overall.

But it’s my newest addition that is most fun lately— the cocktail hour, where I share the latest recipe that I am working on. This may eventually populate a video series on culinary creativity.

Finally, a section for visual art (e.g., my paintings). Then to wrap it up, my pitch for writing and editing gigs that can pay the bills. And if I integrate a couple more moving parts, then I might include a link to my Notes from the Nether Café, as well as to A Lake Poet’s Musings each their own enterprise.

Given the variety of pieces, I wonder whether it might be a valuable exercise to do a layout of print copy. A rough draft where each of these columns and essays and artworks should go, and how it all relates to each other. It might make it easier on my thought process. Creativity creates its own workflows.

So we’ll see.

I think I may need a new workspace.

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