Monday, 31 May 2010

New Forum

You can access the new Analyse This forum (looking at short stories) by sending me your e-mail address and then when I've added you to the author list by clicking here

Or if articles are more your cup of tea then send me your e-mail address and I'll add you to that one! Then click here

Both forums are a lot of fun and will give us the opportunity to see work that has been published from the submitted manuscript to the finished articles and short stories as they appear in the magazines. There will be lots of time for questions and we can address any specific problems writers may have.

We will be discusseing what makes a good short story and article and how we can improve our work to get it published.

Hope to see you there soon!

Julie xx

OOOPS!

I've recently been informed that some people are having trouble accessing this blog -  I've had a tweak and a tuck and you should be able to get onto it now!

Computers, computers, computers! Tsk, tsk,tsk!

Julie xx

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Have A Think

What do you look at/think about when you are leafing through a magazine? What draws your eye and holds your attention? What is it about the article that makes you want to read it? Or what is about the whole magazine that made you pick it of the newsagent's shelf? These are all important questions to ask yourself when choosing a magazine to buy and when considering writing for that magazine.


*Are we looking for: entertainment? Information? Something to pass the time? Lots of illustrations or photos?

*What kind of reader would this particular magazine appeal to?

*Is it full of celebrity gossip? Or is it a how- to magazine with step-by-step guides? Is it full of fiction or solely non-fiction or a mixture of both?

*What kind of topics are covered in the magazine? This can help us to narrow the themes we can write about down and increase our chances of publication.

*What are they advertising in the magazine? This will give us an idea of who the magazine is targeting and who we are writing for.

*How are the articles worded/what is the layout/ length? Paying attention to this can really help us to make the editor's life a lot easier when we present our work and sub it.

*How often is the magazine published - this will help us guage how much competition there is from other writers to get in and the amount of space available. A quarterly magazine will need less material than a weekly.

*Look at the names in the staff list in the magazine and look at who has written the articles. Are there lots of different names or the same few? This will help us to see how much work the editor takes from freelance writers and how much is done in-house.

*Look on the magazine's web site if they have one. This can provide you with a lot more information.

*Find out the submission guidelines if there are any and stick to them. If there aren't use the standard presentation rules.

*Don't be afraid to e-mail the editor or contact them via which ever method detailed in the magazine and introduce yourself and ask if they would be interested in hearing your ideas. Even if it's a 'no' now - you might get a 'yes' at a ater date and the editor may well keep your details on file.

These are the sort of things we need to consider when we want to write for a magazine. It's no good just casually flicking through the magazine, scribbling down your article and then sending it off. Take your time to really study at least two back copies of the magazine, follow the style and submission guidelines of that magazine (remember not all magazines will have the same guidelines), and before you do any writing for that magazine check they take freelance subs! If not, don't waste your valuable writing time. Target another magazine instead.

Happy analysing and writing.

If you go over to my new Analysing Articles Forum for the next post  there I'll put up a copy of one of my article manuscripts and a copy of how it eventually appeared in a magazine so we can compare the difference.

To join the forum let me know your e-mail address and I'll add you to the author list so you can post, comment and join in the fun.

Julie xx

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

NEW FORUM

I've now started a private blog forum to look at articles and what we can learn from reading and analysing published articles to improve our own writing and improve our chances of publication. If you would like to take part then drop me your e-mail address and I'll add you to the author list so you can join in!

Happy writing

Julie xx

Reawakening

Having had some time off article writing in order to concentrate more on my short stories, my urge to write articles again has been woken and is having a long yawn and stretch, flexing and warming up its muscles ready to go! I've finished the second drafts of two articles: one for a writing magazine and the other for a local school governor magazine, that I hope to finish off tonight with a view to submitting them soon.

The journalism course is also going well as I've started to work on that again. I'm now on assignment three and hope to get that one and assignment four done by the end of Whit week. I've found taking a break from the articles refreshing and although I'm still writing and subbing short stories, I don't like to neglect my article writing for too long.

I still have a couple of articles that were accepted some time ago that are yet to be published, so I'm looking forward to seeing those in print. I'm sure once I see them in the magazines it will kick start my article writing session again. I'm always searching for new things to write about but recently I've been thinking more about what I can use from my past experiences to write about. There is a lot that I have done previously in my life that I'd like to tap into to  - my 15 year nursing career has got to be good for a few articles surely!

Although I don't like writing about myself in particular there are lots of opportunities, if you think hard enough, of things you can write about that you have either knowledge or experience of which could provide you with plenty of material to keep you going for ages. Why not sit down and go back through your life: your past jobs, hobbies, interests, anything that can give you ideas of what to write about. It doesn't have to be a first person article as you can write on a topic within your frame of reference on what issues are relevent to the job you used to  do today or tackle things from a different angle. Why not compare and contrast how things used to be done to how they are done now. As long as you do your research and approach it in the right way you should end up with some interesting and saleable articles.

I have just started a new private blog for analysing short stories and I'd like to do the same for articles too. Is there anyone interested in looking at a few articles that have made it into print and discussong why they got into print and seeing what we can learn from them to increase our own chances of publication? Let me know what you think.

Good luck!

Julie xx

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Finding Time

My copy of Writers' Forum came today and I've been reading it with interest, as always! It never fails to bolster my flagging enthusiasm and it sends me into a flurry of writing activity after I've read it. I have to admit that my writing time has been severely squeezed over the past few weeks  -  my fault for taking more things on in my 'real' life but entirely my choice. I only have myself to blame when I don't have any articles to send out!

That's the trouble when life gets in the way and we are forced to push our writing in to the background like a once loved toy that has become all grubby with an eye missing and it's belly in tatters letting the stuffing poke through. But are we forced or do we just use the extra activities we cram into our lives as an excuse not to write? Are we procrastinating? Sometimes I'm not so sure!

Having had my second short story accepted for publication last week I'm still determined to persue that avenue of the writing  -  if only I had the time! If only  - there is that universal cover all excuse! If only I'd done that; if only I hadn't done that; if only I hadn't wasted all that time; if only, if only, if only! I think I need less of the if only and more of the make it happen! What about you?

Happy writing!

Julie xx

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Inspiration

I have been out and about recently gaining more information and ideas for articles. I think it does writers good to put their pens down, close their computers down and get up from their chairs and go out into the big world once in a while. It can become a bit claustrophobic and I find I get a bit of cabin fever if I'm stuck inside writing for too long. But I don't always want to stop what I'm writing. So I have a dilemma: do I interrupt my writing flow to relocate and get some fresh air? Or do I stay in doors and become hermit like? I chose the former.

I've been feeling a little restless of late and I'm finding it increasingly difficut to do anything about the ideas for articles I have in my head and written in various notebooks.I also want to get my next two assignments for the journalism course I'm doing out of the way as I am in danger of forgetting I'm even doing a course if I don't buckle down to it soon! This is why I think doing a course that has assignment deadlines like the OU does is a good idea if you lack the ability to motivate yourself. The Writers' Bureau one I'm doing now gives you about four years to complete the course -  I need to self impose some deadlines I think or it could well take me four years to finish it.

Yesterday I went to a school reunion. They've built a new school behind the current one and the current one is due to be knocked down soon, so it was our last chance to take a look around. It was strange going back. I left in 1987 - a long time ago. I was struck by how old the ex-students all looked! Then it struck me: oh my Lord I must look that old too! It was a bit of a shock that required a sit down in the canteen with a strong cup of tea! I didn't see anyone from my year but saw many faces I thought I recognised but wasn't quite sure. I spoke with some of my old teachers and our old headmaster but I didn't really get a sense of nostalgia and there was no emotion attached to the school -  I didn't really feel anything when I was walking around  - just had a sense of how noisy and crowded it was and the fact that I once pounded these halls with my aged 11-16 feet!

It was an opportunity to take my daughter round who was amazed that mummy used to attend that school! It also gave me some great ideas to base some articles on  -  if I could only gather enough umph to write them! I also bumped into the Percussion teacher I interviewed some time back. He'd done an African drumming workshop at my writing group and yesterday he was doing the same workshop in The Edge  -  a small theatre/community space attached to the school (it used to be the old gym when I was at school). So it was nice to see him again. And a timely reminded to get a ruddy move on with the articles I'm writing about him and his work!

Today my family and I went to Attingham Park, a sprawling estate with a wonderful manor house near Atcham which is on the way to Shrewsbury. I've been there many times before and as the weather was so nice, we decided to have a walk within the beautiful grounds  -  a truly inspirational place for writers! I have taken some pictures so will post some on here when I've got them on my computer so if you've never been there you can see what a great place it is. I will also be writing there one day soon if anyone who lives close enough wants to join me.

I find that by going to places  -   it doesn't matter where but a variety of places works best: a cafe one day, the countryside another day, a town park, a skating rink, spectating at a swimming pool, anywhere you like where there will be nature, or other people, quietness one day and noise another - gives you a great pool of resources when setting your story/article. You can really soak up the atmosphere and note down what it feels like to be there: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Use all your senses while you are there, take loads of photos and notes, ask lots of questions. You will have a mountain of subject matter to write about as well as enjoy the experience of being somewhere else. This really kick starts my creativity. If I've been feeling a bit stale writing wise, I go somewhere else. It doesn't need to be far away, but just a different environment to engage your brain into experiencing something different from your normal routine.

Don't forget to get out and about. Now the weather is better (occasionally) it's easier to get out into the great outdoors!

Have fun exploring and don't be afraid to open yourself up to different experiences - your writing will thank you for it.

Julie xx

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Think About It

I've sent a couple of short stories out there and so now the frustrating wait for a verdict from the magazine editors starts. I'm sure we've all been there/are there. You send your work off in a flurry of excitement and expectation which soon transforms into agonising anxiety and frustration as you chew your finger nails down to nothing while waiting for that all important letter/e-mail/phone call that you know deep down isn't going to come for a while yet, if ever!

So while I've been waiting, I've been e-mail interviewed by another writer who is doing an article  - that was fun and I hope the article finds a home. I've also managed to finish transcribing the last interview I did and will be planning a couple of articles from that. I've made a list of the magazines I think might be interested in an article (you need to think wide and obscure for this - don't just go for the old favourites.) This is where I find I really need to sit down, highlighting pen clutched in my hand and notes from the interview spread out in front of me on the floor and read through it, highlighting quotes and bits I particularly like. It helps me to have three blank sheets of paper too. These pieces of paper represent the three articles I'll be writing on the same subject aimed at three different magazines. I write the name of the publication I'm aiming for on the top of each sheet and then put any relevant quotes of bits of info I find on each sheet  - ensuring that no two quotes/information bits are the same in any of the articles  -  unless I write the information in a different way for each article.

I always try and aim for three articles out of one interview  - maybe more if I can stretch it! Once I have been through my notes and transfered the bits I want to use on each of the pieces of paper I have a cup of tea or two and then I start to form a plan for each article. I don't go overboard or in to too much detail here  -  it's just a short beginning-middle-end format where I note down what I want to say in the article and which order I want to say it in. I think about it at this stage so I can ensure I don't miss anything important and I can contact the interviewee if I'm unsure of anything rather than waiting until it's almost due for submission and having a mad panic about it! I might note down a few sentences that pop into my head that I'd like to put in the article so I jot them down before I forget.

Then I put it all away for a couple of days while I get on with something else. This gives me more time to think about it and I'm sure a lot is going on at a sub-conscious level in my brain too. Then I get it all out again and start looking at one of the plans. This is where I go either one of two ways depending on how much time I have and what mood I'm in. I either write the first draft of the article in longhand on paper, or I type it straight on to the computer. I have no preference as to which one I use really, but the typing option cuts down on time in the long run. It's already there on screen ready to edit rather than me having to type the whole thing from the hand written one.

I tend to do about three edits (I think three must be my magic number!) These edits take place over a week or two and I always put the 'finished' article away for at least two days to a week before getting it out for a final read through before I send it off. You'll be amazed what errors you can miss - even at that late stage, so it's important to do that final read through.

I'm hoping to get the first draft of one of the articles from this interview done by the end of the weekend. I have pitched the idea to two magazines but they said no thank you, so I'll go to the next magazines on my list and pitch to them until I run out of magazines. I will also use one of the articles for the journalism course I'm doing which I must get a crack on with as I have been neglecting it.

Whatever you're doing this bank holiday I hope your article writing is going well and the ideas are flowing. Keep at it!

Julie