Writing Articles.

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…..

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Author: susanjanejones

I write articles and short stories, and this year I've become a pocket novelist for my weekly.

13 thoughts on “Writing Articles.”

  1. I agree, Susan – target smaller circulation magazines rather than the glossies. But it can be difficult to hunt out the small ones if they aren’t sold through newsagents.

  2. I totally agree, especially if you are just starting out. I do occasionally write on topics I don’t know about, but that is because I am a researcher by background. To get some publications behind you, you really do need to start with what you know – the reader will be able to tell you known the topic, as will editors.

    Haunted hotels…..sounds really interesting. I have a fascination with this topic, but know nothing about it. Good luck with getting it published; would love to read it. Hope your knowledge doesn’t come from anything too daunting!!!!

  3. I’ve started writing articles for magazines in recent months, and one note I would add (because this one caught me by surprise!), is that the editors may change your article in whatever way they like, without checking back with you that you are happy with their changes, and then you have to live with your name being put to it when it might not have been what you wanted to say! Mostly they just tweak it slightly, if at all, which is fine. However, recently I was commissioned to write an article, they gave me the word count which I followed, but subsequently they decided they needed a longer article and rather than asking me to write more (and I guess then having to pay me more!), they just added a whole lot of extra stuff that was completely fabricated, some of which I was not happy about at all because I found it somewhat insulting to the person I had written about. I didn’t find out until I saw the published magazine. It can be hard to take, but you do have to be prepared for that possibility!

    1. Ooooh Vanessa, that’s harsh, I wouldn’t like that either. I’ve only had minor details changed, but in the Bella one, they altered an important piece of information about a ring that had been found. It changed the story slightly, but not enough to worry me, and it was about me and hubby, so nobody else to upset. You could let them know next time maybe…that’s if you write for them again…

      1. I write regularly for them, so I didn’t want to complain in case they decided not to use me any more! It was the first time this happened, previously any changes they’ve made have been very minor. It was just a bit of a shock!

  4. Susan – I enjoyed this – it made me laugh – but in a good way. The cheek of those people (a vicar, too!) expecting money from the articles you were planning to write! Most people don’t have a clue how much (or rather, how little) is earned from writing articles, unless you’re a ‘big name’ but it’s very mean-spirited of them to only think of the money they can get, when it’s you that’s had the idea and are going to do all the work! There’s now’t so strange as folk, as the saying goes!

    1. Hi Helen, that’s true. I can only think that they must have had great faith, (no pun etc.) in my abilities. It did put me off writing the article as properly as I might have done though. Good thing is, I live here in the Mids now, so I could still do that article, tee heee.. so stick that in your pipe Vicar….

  5. Susan – I enjoyed this – it made me laugh (in a good way). The cheek of those people (and a vicar, too!) expecting money! You had the idea and you were going to be doing all the hard work. There’s now’t so strange as folk, as they say.
    I was intrigued by the article you sent to Bella – can I ask what it was about?

    1. It was quite a long story. I used their form from the magazine – ‘Tell us your story’. Then I began from the beginning, how I met and fell in love with a gorgeous man. He felt the same, we married, had our three beautiful children. Due to working too hard, jealousy, being too young, not realising how well off we were; I had a nervous breakdown, came back to Mum and Dad’s. He looked after the children, his Mum helped. (They were settled at school, so they stayed there, but visited me often.) In the meantime, I married an older man. He was the kindest most gentle man that ever lived….(I became a step-mum!!!!)…. Whizz forward ten years…. The older man was ill with a type of dementia…. Hubby number one was in touch often, as the children were now living with me and hubby number two….. In all that time, the children’s Dad stayed on his own. He came and helped with hubby number two, who was so noble, he shook his hand and said, “I’m so glad you’re looking after Sue and the children, and the dog…. So, that’s it in a nutshell.. A gold wedding ring is involved, that was an important piece of the story.

  6. An interesting and informative post, Susan, maybe I’ll give article writing a go, as I don’t seem to have much luck with fiction (not that I’m trying very hard at the moment!) I love reading the comments – and your replies, probably because I’m nosey. You certainly have led an interesting life – thank you for sharing! 🙂

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