February 16, 2013

Tips for a long writing life

Writing for traditional book companies, magazines, or other print publications may take a little time to investigate, think about, and prayerfully consider, but you gain a lot for the effort. Besides acquiring publishing credits with well-known publishers, you will most likely receive editorial feedback and immediately gain a wide readership for your work.

If that greater outreach appeals to you, you’ll be glad to know that many articles relating to your writing interests have already been posted on this blog. Lord willing, the following tips will also help you to build and sustain a long career in freelance writing:

Read and study well-written classics and contemporary works in your genre.

Think about what first drew you to each book, poem, article, or story and what retains your interest.

Re-read periodicals you like and get familiar with everything from the Table of Contents to Letters to the Editor.

Also notice ads to see what readers of a particular publication are drawn to and what interests them. If those same things interest you – and if the poems, articles, or stories do too – then add that publication to your list of Most Likely Markets.

Make a list, too, of your God-given gifts, special interests, experiences, and topics that come to mind as you read, considering and noting any gaps your work might fill.

Ask God to guide you in using your gifts and selecting a topic.

Find a relevant theme, focus, or goal for that particular topic and reading audience, again, praying for God’s guidance.

Research your subject well, creating a bibliography as you go.

As you begin to write, let your writing flow without hindering or criticizing yourself. Then let your work rest. Later, read each page as if someone else had written it.

Read aloud each revision, listening especially for unclear wording or discordant sounds.

Revise accordingly then place your best manuscript with an editor – one editor at a time.

Follow the writers’ guidelines carefully for each submission. (You can usually find these on the company’s website.)

Keep track of where, when, and to whom you mailed your work.

While you wait to hear from one editor, query another about your next idea.

Begin at the beginning of these suggestions.

Begin and end with prayer for God’s ongoing guidance, inspired ideas, and a long, blessed writing life!

© 2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

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