The most difficult part of the writing life for me is really paying attention to the uncomfortable moments. For me, that’s all wound up in the revision process. I want my work to come out strong the first time. And I never want to delete the pithy little phrases I came up with. It’s a mess. But I’ll save that for another blog post.
For some of us, the hardest part of writing is in putting our work out there with the possibility of being rejected. So before we get to the grit, I want to honor your process. I know there’s a whole lot more heart-wrench happening behind the screen than five steps can contain.
My hope is to simplify the process as you dive into something that might be new for you--gamut of accompanying emotions and all. You ready, brave friend?!
Here’s what I have learned the few times I’ve traipsed about the blogosphere:
1. Watch the publication.
Know who you want to write for--subscribe to blogs that inspire you and get a grip on what they might be looking for. I see it this way: every blog or website or magazine has a specific mission. This mission shapes its audience and the audience in turn shapes the content and its style. For example, I probably wouldn’t submit the same piece to Darling Magazine and RELEVANT. It might help to come up with some keywords to define the publication you have your eye on: where Darling might be feminine and invitational, RELEVANT is edgy and progressive. Lots more room for certain types of language and content in a publication like that.
2. Curate your content.
I always write essays with a specific audience in mind--that is, I tailor both the content and the tone to the demand of the publication rather than sending in a piece I wrote two weeks ago on a whim. I keep track of all my ideas on Trello, which is like a bulletin board for project management. I also keep a running list of publications accepting guest writers (here is a good resource if you’re curious). If I’m lucky enough, there’s some overlap, and I make something work!
3. Tweak your work.
The audience of the publication should be part of both your writing process and editing process. It might be helpful to scan through your piece and fine-tune it to imitate content already on the website. For instance, I’ve noticed RELEVANT likes lists. Maybe reformat your piece into a few bullet points and title each section. Or if you’re submitting to a “softer” blog, it might be wise to change all the “you” language to “we” to make it more invitational and less directional.
4. Pay attention to details
Every publication has specific things it's looking for, from subject line in your submission email to how many spaces to put after a period in your document. Some places like the article pasted directly in the email, while others prefer it as an attachment. Check out the website (usually under "contribute" or "submissions") and keep track of the details. It's always good to keep the process smooth for the people you’re trying to impress.
5. No doesn’t mean no.
Finally: “no” from your favorite magazine isn’t the final verdict about your worth. On the contrary! Most blogs and magazines are businesses and choose content they think will increase traffic and profit. It could be a “right piece, wrong time” scenario, or maybe they just received a host of other submissions on the same topic. Keep tending your craft! My friend Ann Swindell says it so graciously: even if no one reads it, your writing matters. It transformed you, and that’s something to be proud of.
Now go submit some work! If you want to learn more, let’s talk about coaching! Contact me here.