Instead of the usual “5 Prompt Friday,” I thought I’d change it up a bit.
As writers, we are always on the lookout for great tips on how to write better, get that coveted byline, connect with an editor and get past the “block.”
Well, I read a fantastic article in the Sept/October 2008 Wow! Women on Writing newsletter that answers all of these quandaries – and more! If you don’t already have a free monthly subscription coming to your inbox – SIGN UP! You’ll be brighter and sexier for it. (OK, you know the gig.)
Here is the summary on Krysten Lindsay Hager’s interview of author Susan Shapiro (Only As Good As Your Word: Writing Lessons From My Favorite Literary Gurus.)
- Find a Mentor
- Break into print with Essays (specifically humiliation essays. yep, get ready to duck and cover!)
- Don’t send a query if you don’t have clips – just send the article, essay, mss.
- Expect that your family and friends will cringe if you’re writing personal essays. But not to worry – they’re not your audience and this means you’ve found your authentic Voice.
- Do your Homework: read the publication you want to break into; know their audience; know their editor.
- Cover your inexperience: Craft your cover letter to give compliments to the magazine – not yourself! Don’t mention a laundry list of your accomplishments, give a genuine high-five to the editor for a great publication and say what specifically you love about it! Then mention, as a reader, you’re submitting an essay on the topic of xyz and why it’s a perfect fit for them.
- Work for FREE: OK, if you’re starting out and the publication has a good name and is respectable (i.e. no spelling or grammar errors.), but can only offer payment in contributor copies, go for it. Until you get a few clips under your belt.
- Best writing advice: Write about your obsessions! Is it shoes? (I know it’s shoes, right?) Or maybe the Twilight saga books *sigh*, or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Go Crazy! ALSO: from Susan Shapiro’s cousin, author Howard Fast,: “Plumbers don’t get plumbers block. Just get to work! A page a day is a book a year.”
Well, what are you waiting for? Put some of these great tips to use!
Read the article in its entirety here.