Friday, 25 September 2009

Drinks All Round!

I have just received an email from the editor of the community magazine I had problems with and all is well again. He says it was a misunderstanding and he had no intention of restricting me to write exclusively for his magazine. He just wants to make sure that my articles don't appear in other local magazines as his in the same month.

My article for that editor's magazine was in the August issue and my three articles for the other magazine were in the September issue. So I hadn't got into both mags the same time. I had already submitted my three articles to the other magazine by the time I'd spoken to the first editor about my Horsehay article, so I really couldn't have done anything about it.So I just need to stagger my submissions to ensure I don't get in both at the same time. To be honest, I'm too busy to write for both at the same time now anyway and I am concerntrating my efforts more heavily on paying markets. But at least I know I can submit to both community mags alternatively without any fear of confusion or agro!

Note to self and other writers - accurate and clear communication is the key! If editors don't want a writer to appear in more than one local community magazine at the same time they should say. And writers should tell editors if they have submitted articles to other magazines in the area and they are likely to be in at the same time. Problem is we don't always know when our articles will be used!!

I just want to put the whole incident behind me now and move on. I have learned a valuable lesson and by blogging about it, I hope I save someone else the embarrassment!

Julie xx

All The Difference

What a difference a few days make. After the issues last week with an editor (see previous posts)and me going through my records to see how many articles rejections/acceptances I've had since I started recording them this January, I was all for jacking it in and never writing another word. I was in fear for my sanity and blood pressure. But I have come to my senses again and decided to give it another bash! Or is it that I've finally tipped over the edge into permanent insanity? I go up and down like this in my attitude to writing and my husband can always tell if my writing is going well as I type for hours and go off into my own little world. If it's going bad I roam around the house avoiding the computer!

Things that I have found useful this week along my writing journey:
*Journalism course. I have almost read the whole course through now and I'm already learning stuff I never knew! I have found the sections on the law particularly useful (and the most frightening). If you write articles/want to be a journalist and are struggling/confused then I'd recommend you consider doing a course on the subject - it doesn't need to be an expensive or extensive course, a basic one will do. I think it's probably the best thing I've decided to do for my writing career to date.

*Taking the bull by the horns. I decided not to let that editor discourage me from writing or submitting to new markets. So part of the article I had originally been writing for them I expanded and have made it into a feature in its own right. I emailed the local newspaper editor and he was interested in it. I then received a phone call from their feature editor and he liked my proposal and I am now writing the feature for them. Don't be shy - get on the phone or email these editors and give them your ideas. Yes, they may say no, but they could just as easily say yes. You won't know for sure until you try.

*Don't over stretch yourself. It tends to be all or nothing with me. I either work myself up into a frenzy and write like a woman possessed,tiring myself out in the process, or I write nothing and start moaning about the fact that I've written nothing, yet do nothing to remedy this! Have a rest every now and then - don't burn yourself out. Save some energy for your next project or there may not be a next project.

*Don't take no for an answer. If one editor says no then forget about them and move on to the next editor with your work/idea. You can always go back to the original editor with another idea later on. I used to worry about how many ideas I should send out to the same editor - but now I think if they don't want my ideas they'll say so or never reply to my emails - if that's the case I'll move on to the next editor until I get a hit!

Have a great weekend and wherever you are going/doing, don't forget to take your notebook, pen and camera - there's a story/feature out there somewhere!

Julie xx

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Articles or short stories?

I'm having a little creative battle in my brain at the moment. Half of me wants to get cracking on my Journalism course and writing more articles but the other half wants to write short stories! I also want to finishing judging the comp I'm involved in at the moment so that's taking priority at the moment.

I'm really keen to get something else published but it's the deciding what to do and waiting around for replies on the work I've already got out there that's the frustrating thing.

I suppose the answer is to just get a grip and do something rather that get myself into a tizzy mess and write nothing!

Julie xx

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Question re: My Weekly

Just a quick question. Have the new My Weekly submission guidelines come out yet? I know the ones I've got expired on 31st August. I did send an email requesting the new ones when they come out but I was just curious in case I've missed them!

Julie xx

Friday, 11 September 2009

Swings And Roundabouts

It's been a bit of a funny old week in regards to article writing for me. On the positive side I've been out and about in my local community interviewing people and taking photographs of the local area. This has been a good experience for me and I've really enjoyed chatting to people. What I've found most interesting on my travels, is how willing people have been to talk to me - it's made my job a lot easier and I have even had people make suggestions to me on what I could write about next which is a bonus!

I've found this week that the only way to get ideas for articles and find things to write about is to get out there and talk to people. It has surprised me how much getting out and about in the fresh air has energised me and rejeuvenated my enthusiasm to find new things to write about and markets I've never considered writing for before.

The good news this week is that I had three articles published in one issue of a community magazine. It was a nice surprise as I thought the editor was only going to use one. The downside was that there were a few typo spelling and grammatical mistakes in there (not mine!) So I only hope that anyone reading them doesn't think I can't spell or put a sentence together properly!

I have been working hard on another article about my local community (hence the interviews and photography) But the editor has asked me to hold fire on that one - I'm getting mixed messages as a few days ago the editor said to make sure my photos were as high res as possible, but yesterday told me to hold off on the article for now. I find the uncertainty frustrating and I have my suspicions that that particular community magazine is going to disappear. It's not a problem to me as I can find other markets - but it's an annoyance! But this is part of the course for a freelance writer. If an editor of one magazine says no you have to move on to the next one. It's the way it is.

Both of these mags don't pay contributors for their articles but, as I've said before, contributing to non-paying magazines is good practice and gets your name out there - plus you can add the articles to your portfolio to show future editors of paying (hopefully) magazines what you've done before. But I would like to get an article I actually get paid for in somewhere again soon!I'm working on one for a writing magazine at the moment.

I've sent a few more proposals out and will continue to do so. A lot of the proposals I send out I never hear anything about! Do you think the editors are trying to tell me something. But I'll keep sending them out regardless! Every now and then I get a bite - so it's worth it in the end.

Julie xx

Friday, 4 September 2009

Going That Extra Mile

I have done it. I've taken a big step on the road to becoming more professional in my outlook in freelance writing. I have been mulling this over for months and I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to be a good freelance writer I had to get serious and up my game somewhat. I've been dallying and messing about , procrastinating and not being bold enough. I've almost been 'apologetic' in my approach to my work and in how I approach editors. I have a tendency to go down the terribly typical British route of behaviour. 'I'm terribly sorry to bother you, Editor, but I've written something I don't for a minute think that you will have the remotest bit of interest in because I'm a new writer and I don't think I can write anything for you but I'm sending you this anyway.'

I have decided that a more professional approach is called for and I am determined to sharpen up my image and my writing. The first step in this plan was to enrol in a course for journalism and article writing, which I have done today. I was enrolled in another course with a different company but had to pull out as I couldn't afford to do it and due to other, person reasons that I couldn't be sure would settle by the time the course started, and so the best option was to pull out.

The situation has improved and so, because this course is considerably cheaper and I can manage the installments, I decided to take the bull by the horns and go for it. If it helps me to focus and get more of my work into print - then I'll be happy. I felt that I was lacking some of the 'know how' in my article writing and I wanted to correct that so I have a better understanding of how it all works, what editors are looking for, and how to maximise my chances of publication - as well as helping me to become a better writer. I'm hoping I will pay for the course through my writing - it's certainly a good challenge.


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Problem photographs

As you know I am relatively knew to this article writing lark and this blog is supposed to be a record of my journey! I am afraid I have been rather neglectful of this blog as I had a dip in my enthusiasm for article writing. I find my interest in article writing wax and wanes like the moon - I'm sure my writing career is affected by the phases of the moon! If I start howling and getting hairy - RUN!!

Sometimes I just have no idea of what I want to get out of my writing and what I want to write. Because I also write short stories and poems I find my attention span on all of them is relatively short. Consequently I have lots of half finished projects on the go that aren't going anywhere! Yes I do drive myself mad by my inability to finish one of them before moving on to something new.

I feel as though I'm standing at a crossroad now in my writing career. I can either carry on going straight ahead as I am, never really getting anywhere with anything.Or I can start the uphill climb to getting my articles in the kind of magazines I can only dream about at the moment. I have a real confidence problem when it comes to approaching editors with my article proposals and will generally only do so if the wind is blowing in the right direction;I'm feeling rather brave and reckless, or someone else pushes me to. This is not a good trait in a wannabe article/feature writer!

I have seen my articles in print in the local free community magazines and in the National Association of Writers' Groups magazine and this was a great confidence boost. Having an article accepted for Writers' Forum was also great. But I think a big part of my problem is that I feel detached from my successes. I see my articles in print and my name underneath them but somehow it seems unreal, as though another Julie Phillips wrote them! Does that sound crazy?! How do I get over this 'I can't do it' phase? I'm usually so positive about things.

I think it was this business with the photographs that has confused me and made me uncertain. I sent a synopsis and sample images to a magazine as they requested. But from the reply I got I don't think my images were good enough. They did ask me to supply the rest of the images on a disc - which I have done - but I have an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I may be reading too much into it. I don't know - It's impossible to second guess any editor. But if it is my images that have let my synopsis down and I lose the chance of publication I will be gutted.

A positive to come out of all this uncertainty and lack of confidence is that it's made me think of what I can do to improve the quality of my photographs for next time. I bought a book on digital photography this morning and so far I have only skimmed through it but I have discovered a whole range of functions on my little point and shoot digital camera that I never knew I had! And some quite sophisticated digital photograph software on my computer that I didn't know I had until now! It's amazing how feeling a bit down about your work can help you discover these things!

To be anywhere up to scratch with the professional writers out there I think I am going to have to write articles and features with illustrating photographs. But to do this I'm going to have to up my game and learn how to use the ruddy camera properly - with a view to upgrading my camera equipment when I get a few sales. It's my new mission in article/feature writing - to fund myself through my writing to get better equipped and genned up on photographic techiques. I'm not talking about doing it now, but maybe in the future if this part of my writing quest takes off.

Another thing I've been toying with is doing a couple of courses on the subject of article/feature writing and photography. Trouble is I have a chicken and egg dilemma - I need to earn cash from my writing to get the equipment/training I need but I need the training and equipment to help me get work!! I've got to get my professional head on. I have to remember that it took me three years of hard work to become a nurse, and seven years to reach sister status, and I should take the same approach with my writing career. The trouble is I see myself as a 'hobby' writer at the moment and it's taking me some time to shift my way of thinking. If I want to become better at writing and taking photos I'm going to have to give it more time and commitment than I have been. It's a big step and one that scares me! I do want to be a writer and I would love to see a lot more of my work in print. So I'm taking baby steps at the moment. I will still approach editors and see what happens.

I have to remember that I have come a long way already and have had many articles published when I thought I wouldn't have any!

So it's a case of watch this space!

Julie xx