Thursday, 24 February 2011

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

I haven't had much luck on the article front recently, but that's because I've been focusing on my short stories. Today, however, I had a lovely surprise when the postman delivered a brown envelope with a copy of This England with one of my articles in it (archery) and a cheque! Now, I sent this article in a couple of years ago and had forgotten about it  -  so it was great to see it in this magazine. It was extra special as I have now sold, and had published two articles out of the one subject.

Lesson learned? Don't give up on your past submissions  -  sometimes it just takes a little (or a lot) of time for them to get to publication! It's also spurred me on to get cracking with more article pitches.

Happy writing

Julie xx

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Back On Track

After a hiatus on the journalism course front I have finally taken up the challenge and almost finished assignment four. To my shame, I haven't even looked at the course since August 2010 (cough, splutter, reddening of cheeks,) so I thought it was high time I began again. It got me thinking as to what obstacles stop me from writing and what I can do about them.

Some obstacles are there that are not of my making and there's very little I can do about those. But there are obstacles that are of my own making that I certainly can do something about. If you're in a rut with your article writing as I have been, looking at why you are in that rut, and what you can do to dig yourself out is the first step to getting yourself back on track. Here are my obstacles and what I intend to do about them. I hope it will help you to:

* Lack of time  -  This is both of my own making and due to other commitments that I have little control over, or do I? If I want to be taken seriously as an article writer I have to take myself seriously and be ruthless with my time. Not a minute of valuable writing time should ever be wasted, so I have looked through my diary and highlighted activities that take too much of my precious time that I can offload. I have written a time table of when I can write and I'm going to hold myself to that.

* Doing other, less important things  -  I am terrible for this. I will often do anything else but write and that is not the way for a professional writer to go. I should have a sign over my door with Procrastination 'R' us on it! Once I put my mind to it, though, I can write for England. So I intend to harness that 'putting my mind to it' and keep the momentum going.

*Worrying about the competition  -  Yes, there are other, more able and more prolific writers out there than me. But there are also less able and less prolific writers out there than me. So I'm concentrating on improving my writing skills and daring to put more pitches out there. I know I can write well and am perfectly capable of getting published  - I've done it many times and will do it many times more, and so can you.

*Letting self doubt cloud my judgment  -  There's no time or place for a writer to let a lack of self confidence stop them from writing and sending their work out there.  When I first started out I suffered from this terribly, but  as I gained more experience and had more published my confidence grew. You just have to push your inner critic away and get on with it.

From just one afternoon's work I've almost finished asssignment four and will have finished assignment five by the end of the week. Just shows you what can be done if you put your mind to it. The whole point of me doing the journalism course was to help me improve my writing and my chances of publication. I think it is doing exactly what it says on the tin and I'm looking forward to submitting the articles that the course generates.

I turn f***y  (thirty-ten) next week and for my present I'm having my spare bedroom turned into an office. This will help me, I hope, harness the time I have to write and allow me to get away from the distractions that stop me from writing. My own little writing space.

Happy writing

Julie xx

Saturday, 12 February 2011

All is Not Lost.......

With all the government cuts hanging over us, does it spell disaster for freelance writers? Will more and more magazines fold or will those that survive be more inclined to do everything in-house? Those are questions I can't answer, so I guess we will all find out sooner or later when more of us are chasing fewer and fewer markets. I refuse to believe that it will all be doom and gloom, though, and I think maintaining a positive attitude with a healthy dose of reality will stand me in good stead when I'm thinking up my next batch of pitches to send out.

So how can we, as freelance writers, survive?

What You Can't Do:

* Accurately predict exactly what an editor wants. Sometimes they just don't know what they want until they see it. But you can take steps to keep yourself close to the mark.

*Predict what every other writer is subbing. It's just bad luck if an editor rejects your pitch/article because they've just accepted a similar piece by another writer. But at least the knowledge that you were on the right track will take the sting out of that rejection.

*Do anything about the current or future economic climate. If the magazine does everything in-house you will only be wasting your time and theirs by subbing to them  -  redirect your energy to subbing to those magazines who still take from freelance writers.

What You Can Do:

* Keep researching the market: if you can get the tone, style and layout of your pitch/article right, you give yourself an advantage and  increase your chances of acceptance over the competition.

*Present your work, and deal with editors in a professional manner. Follow the magazine's subbing guidelines to the letter  and always be polite. Make yourself a pleasure to work with and you won't go far wrong. No editor wants to work with a writer who is too pushy or aggressive or precious about their work.

* Keep writing! If you don't write because you think it's not worth the bother in the present economic problem you'll never know if you would have been one of the few who got through and got published. So don't give up  - if one editor says no, another might well say yes.

It's tough out there, but it's not impossible.

Happy writing!

Julie xx

Friday, 4 February 2011

Excellent Article Writing Advice

There's some brilliant article writing advice, amongst other great snippets of information in the March (current) issue of Writing Magazine/Writers' News. So if you don't get this magazine it might be in your writerly interest to do so.

John Wade tells us how to 'Go Global,' and find markets overseas to pitch to. I'd never really considered this, which is daft really as I've had two short stories published in an Australian magazine! So, following John's advice, I'm going to have a stab at it.

The Writers' News part of the magazine has several snippets of information regarding potential magazine markets both in the UK and abroad, so it will be worth your time browsing through it to identify any possible markets that might be right for the articles you write.

Then Diana Cambridge looks at how to write for the 'health' market  -   something I should be giving a go as I come from a nursing background! Her advice is great and has certainly given me some pointers. There is also some fantastic tips from Samantha Brick on how to pitch to the national newspapers  -  something I haven't had the nerve to do but her advice has made me think again.

Liz Gregory talks about writing about your local community  - I had an article about a similar thing: looking through local magazines/papers and writing for them/about your community in Writers' News last year. So I know from experience that what Liz Gregory says is sound!

But that's not the end of all the excellent article writing advice. Oh no! Then we have an article by Deborah Sharpe about how to write  for the education market  -   also something that has potential for me.

It's a bumper article writing bonanza! I can't wait to read through it properly and reap the rewards from all that advice  -  I hope you all find it helpful too. I'm a bit disappointed with my article efforts at the moment (ie, I haven't written any!) When I think to how many articles I pitched, wrote, subbed and had published last year, I'm eager to get going on them again soon. Which I will do as soon as I've subbed my latest batch of short stories.

I hope your writing is going well. Remember: get something on paper  -  anything is better than nothing. At least you can work with rubbish. You can't do anything with nothing!

Happy writing

Julie xx