If you fancy having a go at writing articles, I would say, choose a subject that you know quite a bit about. I first began in 1981, when I did a writing course with the Writing School, London. As they told us to write what you know, I put together an article on a disappearing church in our local area. One that has to be dug out of the sand by volunteers in the Summer. I sent it out, but it didn’t get published.
Another magazine called Country Quest (now closed down) had a slot ‘Country Characters.’ I wrote about my husband’s Grandad, and a local lady who had a shop that never closed. What I found was though, when I told anyone about my ideas for the articles, even before I’d sent them out, I had a vicar who said,
“Shall we split the fee 50/50?” And an old lady who had her picture taken, only to tell me.
“Lots of people want my photo, and do you know I’ve never had a penny off anyone.” It’s amazing how comments like this can be slightly off-putting. As if people think because you’re writing an article, you’re suddenly going to become rich overnight, and not acknowledge that they may have been in some way connected. Even before you’ve sent or written the thing in the first place!
The best way to get your articles accepted, which took me a long time, as my writing tutor loved putting great big red lines through most of my work, with comments like. “You rushed this,” and “This is rubbish!” Of course I rushed it, and also burned a lot of sausages, and in the meantime, was giving my little ones, lessons in how to write – the cat sat on the mat, and – the dog sat on the log; you need to have somewhere in mind to send your piece of writing to. Once you know where it’s going, you can fashion your writing to fit the word length requirements, and the style the magazine you have in mind want.
When you begin, it’s an idea to send articles to smaller magazines, where there will be less competition. Having something accepted will boost your confidence, and give you proof that your writing is good. I wrote a ghost story for my writing class which I thought was great. Our tutor was a man who co-wrote Birds of a Feather, he was a good tutor, but after I’d explained about ghosts in the night, he replied.
“And……” When I told my Sister, she replied.
“You should have told him, And… we got the hell out of there.”
My favourite article appeared in a Bella Summer Special; I knew when I posted it off that it would be accepted. That’s not me being big-headed, it was laid out, just so, pictures to accompany the article, which editor’s like, and it was a story that was different. They changed it from being in a weekly to a Summer Special, and told me for my trouble (by that they meant;- a professional photographer had been round and taken lots of pictures, and they were winter photos, now we had to wear Summer clothes, in February and had to do it all again.) they would pay an extra £300.00. No trouble at all……
Sometimes, you may write for a small fee, or even no fee at all. I don’t think this is the end of the world, like some people would. If and when you’re such a brilliant writer that you don’t need to write freebies, then you’d stop. It’s all practice, and if you’re prepared to write your words for free, you shouldn’t feel like a nit-wit for doing so. It’s what feels right for you.
Happy writing, and write what you know. I’m off to write an article on haunted hotels…..And…..