It's hard to submit. Not only does it take time to research guidelines and editor's preferences, but, given the number of rejections that a piece may receive, it takes a massive list of markets to find a home for your writing. After I finished my MFA program, I resolved to write short works, build publication credits, and concentrate on the professional aspects of being a writer. Part of that was finding a submission process that worked for me.
On the one hand, as someone with experience working on a lit mag, I understand how tiresome it is to wade through otherwise-valid submissions that don't meet requirements, or read something that has no place going out for publication yet. On the other, I have received rejection notices that are as unprofessional as the Comic Sans font submissions that read like someone's first time in a word processor.
For writers to produce the work and struggle with it is hard enough. Then, they must wade through tons of listings, inspect the requirements, and analyze the market. It's easy to fall into the trap of writing and editing in one phase, and then searching for submissions in another. But by doing so, you lose a lot of deadlines and potential markets that won't be reading by the time you think about publication.
Just like the writing process is a stream that goes through my daily life, I have made the submission process into something I should always be doing unless there's a valid reason not to (hint: there never is). Incorporating my interests as a visual artist made the process harder. It made the research I did easier, because I was ruling out markets anyway, and harder, because I had to keep track of what work I wanted to send out, and because artwork--especially oil painting, but also post-processing photography--has a different time to completion than a writing project.
As I keep track of my publishable work, I start to envision a home for it. Sometimes, any home is better than no home. Sometimes, I want to aim higher with a piece, so I'll hold back from certain markets until after I've received rejections. Here are some tips:
I'm feeling very accomplished this month because I have works to submit and a list of markets to match before AWP, which means I have to submit by March 29th for the late March/early April deadlines. Good luck with your own submissions!