Sunday, 28 October 2012

Rattle your Writer's Cage

Go on. Grab your inner writer and give them a good shake!  Your aim is to rattle the negativity right out of her/him. I know what it's like. I've been there and I still go there more times than I'd like to admit. And once you're there, you can have hell of a game crawling out again. But claw your way out, inch by inch, is what you must do if you want to be published!

Trying something new, reading something you wouldn't normally read, playing a game, eating out somewhere new - tasting a cuisine you've never tried before, visiting a new town or city, taking a walk in the wilds, talking to someone who is totally different to you and who you've never spoken to before ......... the list is endless.

So, what can you do to kick start your writing and blow your inner writer out of the doldrums?

Happy rattling!

Julie xx

Sunday, 21 October 2012

We're busy doing nothing ......

Is a writer truly ever doing nothing? Are we ever off duty? I don't think we are. In my experience, wherever I go, whoever I see, whoever I strike up a conversation with, whatever I overhear, whatever I notice is fair game and gets written down or noted in my head, ready for use at another time.


This can be both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because I am never short of anything to write about, but it's a curse because it sometimes drives me mad when I can't switch off from it! I know. I can't have it both ways. And, if I'm honest. I'd rather have my head buzzing full of ideas rather than none at all.


The issue then becomes which idea to go with first. To iron out this crease I tend to write down the first three that spring immediately to my mind as if I've remembered them then they obviously have something about them by virtue of the fact that I've remembered them off the top of my head! Then I can expand on these three ideas and see which is a short term project that I can get done fairly quickly - these tend to be letters or fillers, which is a medium term - usually an article with a deadline I can park until later in the week, and which is a longer term project - usually larger articles or a series of articles that I can do the preliminary research for now, but don't have to think about finishing until a month's time, for instance.


So never think that just because you aren't engaging in the physical act of writing that you aren't writing at all - because you are. If you're thinking about it then you're writing about it in your head. The important thing is to get past that stage and actually write, though. Don't keep it all in your head or you might never get it published!

Happy thinking and writing

Julie xx

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Pitch Perfect Tips

As promised, here is the hand out for a workshop about pitching article ideas to magazine editors that I did recently. I hope you find it helpful.

Pitch Perfect Tips

·        Identify what it is you want to write about: write a list of subjects you know about and/or things that interest you.

·        Try and hone it down to specific ideas that might make good material for an article

·        Do your homework: go to a variety of newsagents and other outlets that sell magazines and look at those magazines that carry the kind of articles your material might cover.

·        Read the magazines from cover to cover: letters page, editor’s comment, adverts, articles, news – everything.
           Look at: 
·    the tone of the articles in the magazines, the language used, the sentence structure, the paragraphs, the structure of the article.

·        Take note of the magazine’s introduction to the articles at the start of the article – what is the premise? 



·        What is the ratio between the writer’s words and dialogue from experts?

·        When you have settled on an idea lay it out in rough with:

A working title – this can be changed later.

The key words and phrases you think should feature in your article.

The ethos of your article in one paragraph – try and capture what it is your article is about.
·        The pitch itself should be around two to three short paragraphs long – this should hook the editor’s attention, so make it snappy and specific. Be clear about your intentions. Do say whether you can supply images or not and do put a mini biography at the end that should include what you’ve had published before, any relevant qualifications, etc.
·        SELL YOURSELF! The pitch is your chance to get the foot in the editor’s door and get your name known so make sure your pitch is as spectacular as you can make it. Don’t waffle and don’t be vague – clarity, professionalism  and brevity are key.
·        Don’t forget to pay attention to grammar and spelling. If the editor see’s mistakes they may be less inclined to accept it even if it is a brilliant idea.
·        Don’t be afraid to be different: find a different angle but keep within the magazine’s frame.
·        Know who to send the pitch too – the editor’s name should be in the magazine – if unsure, ring the magazine up!


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Where in the World?

A facet of article writing that as so far escaped my attention is travel writing. My illogical mind had decreed that because I've never ventured abroad no-one will be interested in what I have to say (don't start Mr Whaley  -  I know, I know!) Now, as anyone who is a serious, professional writer will know, this is not the attitude to take. Theoretically, a writer can turn their hand to any writing they so wish and, in fact, should be able to adapt their writing style to any given publication. It's what they/we do on a daily basis - or should be. So what stops us?

I think fear of the unknown is a big issue - can you write in an accurate, engaging and authoritative manner about a subject you are not an expert on? Of course, the answer I hope to hear is a resounding YES! The answer should be positive as you can research a subject and find out about it from the Internet (but be very carefully about the authenticity of the sites you use,) experts who do know what they are talking about and members of the public who have experienced or know about what you are writing about. The range of topics and themes is endless!

So, I intend to remedy this sorry state of affairs and write about places I do know about or places other people know about. For me, this means places in the UK - but there is nothing to stop me (or you) from interviewing someone who has been abroad and writing about their experiences is there?

Happy travelling