Sunday, 27 March 2011

Like Buses

I'm having a flurry of article ideas come to me at the moment. I find that article ideas are a lot like buses; I don't see one for ages and then three arrive all at once - leaving me bewildered as to where the hell they came from and which one I should jump on to take me to my desired destination. I even bought a folder (buy one get one free!) from Staples on Friday to accommodate my research so I don't get the information for each article mixed up. It pays to be organised in this game.

I find sending out pitches for articles regularly has always worked for me. I'm also trying to widen my net and pitch to magazines I haven't considered before. Sometimes the pitches work and I can get cracking on writing the article, sometimes it's a no from the editor and sometimes, frustratingly, you hear nothing. But I soldier on! What I don't do now, something I did in the early years, is write the whole article before I've had the pitch accepted by an editor. I might gather some research but I don't waste my writing time writing the complete article until I know the editor is interested in it. There's a future 'Mistake Writer's Make for you Alex! Unless you've done that one before.

I suppose the theme of this post is don't waste your time writing articles you don't have an editor interested in. Put your efforts in writing well the ones you know you have a chance of getting published. By all means I would make enquiries with editors as to whether they want articles on whatever it is you want to write, but don't write them and then try and market them. Even with magazines that accept fully formed articles without the pitch, it's still worth testing the water by contacting the editor on the likelihood that they would be willing to read it.

Being a published writer is a business and you wouldn't find a plumber (also a business) fitting a new bathroom for someone without knowing if it's something the person would like and whether they were getting paid for it or not! Be kind to yourself and your writing.

Happy writing
Julie xx

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sweaty Palms and a Dry Mouth

Normally, If anyone were to ask me to stand up in front of an audience and speak I would probably do it but it wouldn't be a comfortable experience for me. But as a writer, who hopes to have a book or two published one day, in this modern world authors are expected to give talks and meet and greet their readers as well as advertising and market their work. So I sought the opinions of other writers and a Business and Culture Change Motivational Speaker who have given talks in how they prepare for their talk and how they got over their nerves.

The resulting article has just been published in the May Issue of Writers' Forum. So if you don't like giving author talks because your nerves get the better of you, or  you've done a few and want to improve your technique, have a read of the article. I wrote it a while back and the funny thing is that as I was researching and writing it I found a new confidence in speaking - so much so that last Saturday I plucked up the courage to do a workshop for the writers' group I belong to and I wasn't nervous at all! I should listen to my own advice and that of other writers more often! I'd definitely recommend feeling the fear and doing it any way. I and the group had a wonderful time - such fun!

Happy writing and speaking

Julie xx

Monday, 21 March 2011

Forward momemtum

I've almost finished assignment four of the writing bureau journalism course and half way through assignment five too. I'm determined to get the course finished this year as I've been rather slack with it. There are no deadlines and that's part of the problem. I do one or two assignments in a flurry of enthusiasm and then life gets in the way and I get distracted. I put the course folder away and promptly forget about it, only to pull it out of my cupboard a few months down the line and sigh, 'oh yeah, I'd forgotten I was doing that!'. No more! Now I have my writing room I have the folder sitting on my table so I cannot fail to notice it. Hah! I will remember!

I've been in a bit of a thick, lingering fog over my article writing the past few months and haven't been able to see the wood for the trees. My last post about finding writing opportunities  everywhere and casting your writing themes and topics net wider was all part of my attempt to kick myself and those other writers who are similarly stuck in this fog too into action. I'm pleased to say it's helped me. I still have the occasional wobble and will sit there wailing, 'I've nothing to write about and any ideas I get are rubbish and no editor will ever want an article off me again!' But I'm managing to blot those thoughts out as it's my own lack of self confidence that was talking rubbish and not my article ideas!

So don't listen to that naughty devil sitting on your shoulder belittling your efforts. Listen, instead, to your encouraging angel. Remember it's determination and perseverance that will help you through.

Happy writing!

Julie xx

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Nothing to write about?

I went through a phase about a year ago where I managed to convince myself that I had absolutely nothing to write about. And then, even if by some miracle I did have an idea, I told myself that no-one would want to read it if it was written by me as I didn't have any qualifications in that area and I didn't know a lot about the subject. Then I had a more positive thought: do you really have to be qualified in or know a lot about the subject you are writing about? Well, it can give your writing more credence if you tell the reader all your relevant credentials and experience in the field you're writing about but it won't stop you from getting published if you're not the expert. You can, of course, always get quotes from experts to put into your piece to give it some oomph and give your writing some authority.

Take the example of the the archery article I researched, wrote and got published (twice!)  Did I know a lot about archery before I wrote it? No. Was archery a hobby of mine or did I compete? No. But I knew of people out there who did so I asked them. I also did a lot of reading up on the subject on the Internet and watched programmes on the TV about it. There really is more than one way to skin a cat (hate that expression but you know what I mean.)

So, if you're stuck for writing material or want to expand your repertoire then don't be afraid to try something new. Choose a subject that interests you but you know little about and explore that. You don't have to restrict yourself to a couple of subjects you always write about. In fact, doing that can spell disaster for the writer as publications go bust or you run out of things to say on those subjects - unless you can go at the subjects from  a different angle.  Cast your nets wider and see what you catch.

Happy writing

Julie xx

Saturday, 5 March 2011

It's work really ........ honest!

It's the perfect excuse. I get to sit on the sofa drinking coffee while perusing a variety of lovely magazines and it's all in the name of research! It's amazing what you can learn about the types of features and articles the magazine editors want simply by reading from cover to cover the magazine they edit. I've already been inspired and have come up with several ideas I'm going to pitch to the editors next week.

It's raining outside, my new writing room is finished and I'm all set up in there. What could be better? Well, a publishing deal would be great thank you very much, but until that happens (if it happens,) I'm content on working hard towards my writing goals and having a lot of fun on the way. I'm not sure where my new found confidence and renewed energy has come from: turning 40? A couple of events that have happened to me over the last week that have opened my eyes and made me change direction? The Spring air? I don't know. But I'm determined to utilise my increased enthusiasm while it lasts. Make hay while the sun shines as they say.

I hope you're busy making hay too.

Julie xx