Wednesday, 17 March 2010

It's not just about the articles

I love writing articles but more than this I adore getting out and meeting and interviewing people. I find other people fascinating and I believe that everyone has a story in them that is just itching to come out in article form. I also love it when an article I've written goes beyond the actual publication and good things happen afterwards.

For instance, I was showing my archery article to a head teacher and she was interested in having the archrery group in to do some archery with the kids. So I contacted the chap in charge of one of the archery groups and he was pleased - so I'll be passing his details on to the school and hopefully the kids can have a go at archery! Something they've not had at the school before.

Similarily my article in Writing Magazine featuring two local authors has also interested the same head teacher and I hope the school will be inviting one of the authors to do an assembly/workshop soon. It's not just about being published for me  -  it's about seeking out the good stuff that goes on in the community and heralding this. I'm not a 'misery' writer or interested in sensationalist reporting or banging on about all the rubbish and bad stuff that goes on  -  we hear enough of that! I love to see the positive in the people/subjects I write about. I did, of course, in the past, write moaning letters to the local press (they do love to print a good old moan!)  but there came a time when I had to move on from that  -  although it was a great way to let of steam!

Why not try this exercise when you are writing articles. Write about the same subject but in one version write it with a negative slant and in another version write only the positive  -  your third article should be a balanced blend of the two. Editors don't want a too-good-to-be-true sycophantic article about a subject or person, neither do they want a damning (potentially libel providing) thrashing!  So a balance of light and shade is  advisable. For instance - someone may appear to have the perfect life but may have suffered a tragedy in their personal life that made them stronger and who they are today as a result.  But do check with the interviewee that they are happy for you to write this in to the article  - they may not be, and you don't want to upset anyone.

I'm still not sure about letting the people I write about see the finished article before publication: on the one hand I can see that it helps with accuracy and there can be no come back from a disgruntled person you've interviewed when there's something wrong if they've seen it and 'okayed' it! But recently I did let an interviewee see the article I'd written about their work and it was a complete nightmare! And even when the articles had been submitted they still contacted me, even though they knew the articles had been accepted for publication , because they'd found a couple of points they weren't happy with (this was after they'd already seen and commented on the article three times!) So you can see why I'm a little reluctant! I'm learning all the time and the journalism course I'm doing is helping a great deal (bearing in mind I'm taking some of my tutor's comments with a pinch of salt! It's a writer's prerogative  -  we can't help it! There is more than one way to do things too).

One of the three recent pitches I made was a definite no. The second was a 're-pitch it in a couple of months. I'm a bit snowed under at the moment," and the third I haven't heard anything about, which usually means it's a no. But as every good article writer knows, you can't let rejections get you down  -  for every no you get you have to send another pitch out. It's the only way. If one editor doesn't want one of your ideas then pitch that idea elsewhere, go back to the drawing board and pitch a new idea to the editor who rejected your original idea  -  keep on the hamster wheel!

Happy writing

Julie xx


  1. I agree Julie, that there is a lot more too it all. I had something published in Best of British magazine about vintage tractors, all because my lovely neighbour took me out into the hills for a ride on his tractor. We laughed and talked and it was one of the most wonderful experiences that I wanted to put into words.

  2. Experiences are such a good subject for articles - because you've lived it you write from the heart and that makes the piece come alive. Your tractor ride sounds such a great memory!
    Julie xx