Sunday, 19 July 2009

Going Off Line

I've decided to not post on my blog for a week as I want to get my nose to the grindstone and get cracking on my article writing. Spurred on by my writing group and the progress and successes some members have had over the past month I have been motivated to get typing and enquiring and step my efforts up a gear or two.

I have sent propsals to two writing magazines, two 'health' magazines, and a woman's weekly magazine and so I want to edit the articles I hope they will want to see so I can make them the best I can and give them a fighting chance! So this week I intend to work hard and try and make my dream of getting an article in to another major UK magazine a reality. )I've already done it at Writers' Forum, and so I want to convince myself that wasn't just a fluke by repeating the achievement elsewhere!

I find it very difficult to pitch ideas and send proposals into magazines. I'm not the most confident person in the world and in the back of mind, as I type the proposals in an email ready to send, I can hear this nagging little voice of the child me whining that it's no good sending proposals in because the editor will just delete them. Why should the editor be bothered to look at an email from you? I feel intimidated as I am well aware that there are thousands of freelance writers out there who are much more experienced and better writers than me who are going for the same slots in the magazines I am.

But if we sit down a moment and talk about what you can do to overcome these negative thoughts then I'm sure we can help to disperse them.
The most important thing to remember is this: Forget about what other writers are doing. They all had to start somewhere, just like you. And, just like them, you can get your articles in the same magazines they do. I won't pretend that it will be easy because it probably won't, but with some hard work and determination it can be done.

What you have to is is sit down and write the article. I know it sounds basic and slightly patronising but it's the truth. If you don't sit down and write your articles no one is going to do it for you - in fact another writer who took the trouble and effort to write a similar article to yours while you were sitting down whining that you couldn't do it did it instead! How annoying is that?

Before you write your article it's a good idea to see which magazines carry the type and style of article you're writing and whether they take work from freelancers. Then gather the relevent info, interview the people you need to and after you've gathered all the info you need, formulated your plan and written half decent draft of your article you should maybe think about sending a proposal of your article off.

1. Make sure you send the proposal to the right person at the magazine - finding out their name shows the editor courtesy and that you have done your homework. If you can't find the person's name in the magazine (usually a long list of all the different editors at the magazine in the first couple or last pages of the mag) then there will at least be a website where you can find the information you need or telephone no. you can ring.

2. Make sure that you follow the magazine's submission guidelines to the letter. If they request an email proposal first then send that. If they want the whole article then send that. If you send an article in that hasn't been asked for then yes, they may well read it, but it will probably go to the bottom of the pile and the editor is far more likely to read the articles he/she had requested from other writers. You don't want to alienate yourself by showing your inability to follow the editor's instructions do you?

3. Don't be afraid to send your proposals/ideas in for fear of being rejected. The editor will receive thousands of them a week and remember it's nothing personal if they decline your idea. If you don't send your ideas in you'll never get your articles published so you will just have to feel the fear and do it anyway! And if you get a couple of ideas rejected send more in but remember to look at the reasons, if any, the editor gave you for rejecting your idea - it could be helpful.

4. Make sure that you have written the article - or it is near completion before sending your proposal/idea off. You must be prepared to send the article in when the editor requests it - this can be a few days of a week after you've sent the idea in, or it can be months, you never can tell. Unless you say in the proposal that it is a work in progress it will look unprofessional if the editor wants to see your work but it's not ready. Sometimes editors will be happy to commission you on an idea but they may want to see other samples of your work so they can see the general standard of your work before they make a commitment.

5. Go with the flow. I know that sometimes I tend to get very anxious and stressed out to the point of inertia when I'm writing, even though I know that panicking or having a severe self confidence crisis doesn't help get the articles written or anything published! So my advice would be - and I do try and write by what I advise - relax, don't panic and take your time. Remember you have the magazines in front of you and you can see how the magazine lays out its feature articles and you are more than capable of stringing a few sentences together on your chosen subject to fit in with the magazine.

Don't give up! And I'll be back in a week.

Julie

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