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


  1. Haha - my ears were obviously burning as I'm here in an hour!

    Firstly - good for you with all the ideas. I've always felt that one idea triggers another triggers another triggers ano... and so on. That's why they come in bursts. (I touched on this in Mistake #12.)

    As for speculative submissions... I kind of feel that nothing written is ever wasted time or effort and do think that those at the start of their article-writing careers should submit speculatively to editors who require full articles - I covered it in #37. But I do like your 'testing the water' idea - if only to check that a similar article isn't in the backlog to be published.

    All the best, Alex.

  2. Hah! I put the vibes out for you, Alex!

    I thought you might have done them in your mistakes before. I do sometimes send out spec articles to places like The New Writer and This England, but I'm more into recycling my old articles now and sending those out. I was surprised when I got two article pitches accepted by the same magazine, though. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.