What I Wish I’d Known When I Started Writing For Magazines

I’ve been writing for magazines for more than 20 years, but if I had known some of these things when I started, it would have made a big difference in my career. So here’s what I wish someone had told me before I got started:

Writers at Work: Submitting to Literary Magazines – YouTube
1. The importance of thorough research before pitching ideas.
2. Understanding the target audience and tailoring content accordingly.
3. Developing a strong and unique voice as a writer.
4. The significance of building a network of fellow writers.
5. Embracing rejection as part of the writing journey.

Don’t Be Afraid To Take A Risk

Don’t be afraid to take a risk. The world of writing is changing, and it’s never been easier for anyone with a computer and internet connection to write an article, start their blog (like me!), or sell stories to magazines. 

But this also means that there are more writers out there than ever before. This means that competition will be fierce, so you need something special for readers’ eyes to land on your work instead of someone else’s.

Don’t be afraid to try something new or different. If you want people to read your work above all else then you need to think outside the box when coming up with ideas for articles or content, but don’t forget about what those ideas mean in terms of execution because execution is just as important as having good ideas! 

You should always aim high because even if not everything works out perfectly sometimes there are still valuable lessons learned along the way which will help guide future decisions made down the road towards achieving success as an entrepreneur/writer someday soon down line in life after graduation from college.

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Have a goal for every piece you write.

When you’re writing for a magazine, you need to have a goal for every piece. What do you want to achieve with your piece? Who is your audience? What are the main messages of the article that you want to get across?

What do you want your readers to do after reading your article: buy this product, read another magazine, subscribe, share on Facebook? How will they feel after reading it happy or sad?

It’s important that when writing for magazines and newspapers we remember who our target audience is. 

It’s also important that we know what message we’re trying to send out through our writing and how best can communicate this message in as few words as possible so as not to waste any money on unnecessary word count.

Keep A File Of Story Ideas

Keep a file of story ideas. You never know when one will strike and you’ll need to come up with something fast.

Keep a file containing ideas for the future. Maybe you want to write about how to dress like a man or woman, but can’t think of any good examples right now? Maybe there’s an article about how technology is ruining our lives that you’d love to write, about but don’t have time for at the moment? Just keep track of these in case they become relevant later on down the line!

Keep a file containing ideas for stories you want to write (and possibly pitch). These are just general things that interest you: 

Maybe your friend was particularly wild when she was younger; maybe there was a celebrity sighting in town; maybe your dog ate someone else’s food by mistake and now everyone wants answers. There’s no limit here! Just get everything out on paper so it’s not lost forever.

Keep a file containing ideas for stories specific magazines would be interested in seeing from their writers. This makes sure that all those lovely editors who sent back nice rejection letters aren’t wasting their time sending out submissions because they’re not interested in what we’re working on right now they just want us back!

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Write About What You Know, Not Just What Interests You

There are a lot of things I wish I’d known when I started writing for magazines. In the beginning, I was mainly interested in the subject matter and passionate about creating content. 

But once you start to understand what makes a magazine article great, you realize that it isn’t enough just to write about topics you love. You also have to write about them well and create something that will appeal to your readers and make their lives better.

The more time you spend working on freelance articles, the more likely it is that you’ll get better at them (and learn how much work goes into writing one). And if this is something that interests or excites you enough for your long-term career trajectory, then learning how best to communicate with editors and other writers could be very important indeed!

Be Willing To Let Go Of Your Stories

This is a hard one. You’ve been working on your story for months or even years, and you have this vision of what it will look like when it’s done. But sometimes that’s not how it works out. Sometimes, sadly, things just won’t work out the way you want them to and that’s okay!

I’ve talked about this before: I started writing my first novel while I was still in college because I had heard horror stories about how difficult it was to get published as an unknown author (which is true), so I wanted to write something good enough by the time I graduated so that agents would take me seriously. 

The whole process took me two years; during those years there were probably at least 20 different versions of that book floating around in my head as well as on paper (or digital). 

And then when it came time for me to submit my manuscript to agents, none of them liked any version of what I had written enough for them even consider signing me up as a client at least at first glance. They all said pretty much the same thing: “This isn’t quite ready yet.”

That was one of the hardest things about getting published: realizing that no matter how much effort you put into something ahead of time even if you think it’s perfect there are always going to be people who disagree with your vision and don’t see eye-to-eye with what you’re trying to accomplish with whatever project happens next (and vice versa).

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Write About Current Events, Especially During Slow News Periods

If you’re like me, you may be a bit wary of writing about current events. I’ve found that the best way to write about them is to take several steps back and think about what people around you are talking about. 

This approach allows me to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes (and also makes for more interesting writing). I find that this is especially true during slow news periods in times like these, it can pay off if you write about something relevant and specific happening in your community or workplace instead of just another attack by ISIS on some faraway land.

But don’t worry! It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom you can still write something fun while still doing your part as an informed citizen. 

For example: If there’s an upcoming election where candidates will be debating each other (or offering their opinions on important issues), consider sharing their key talking points with readers via short bullet points or even humorous illustrations (though remember not everyone thinks satire is funny!).

Get Paid As Much As You Can Every Time You Get Paid At All

I hear it all the time, and it’s something I wish I’d known when I started writing for magazines. You need to get paid as much as you can every time you get paid at all. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for more money if your editor says no, then he or she will say no (and so many other people would love what little money they’re offering). If you have been negotiating with someone, make sure that both of your wants are met in writing before starting any work. 

And if bonuses are involved? Make sure there’s a letter of agreement written up somewhere saying what exactly qualifies for them (for instance: “When used correctly in our style guide” is not specific enough).

If this sounds like a lot of work, just remember: A good editor is worth his weight in gold and not just because he gets things done well and on time; it’s also because he’ll smooth out any bumps along the way so that everyone stays happy (including yourself!). That said…

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Don’t Be Afraid To Send Out Things That Haven’t Been Published Yet

When you’re writing for a magazine, it’s tempting to be like, “Oh, I already have this piece that I wrote two years ago I should send that out!” But don’t feel limited by what’s in your archives. There are three ways you can approach sending things out:

You can send an excerpt from a longer article or book manuscript you’ve written. If your work isn’t yet available online or in print form, consider sending them an excerpt from something else as well as information about when the full piece will be published and where it will appear (if applicable). 

This gives them a taste of what’s to come later on down the road so they have something to look forward to and can make an informed decision about whether or not these pieces might fit well together in the same issue or anthology.

You could also send a piece that isn’t quite ready yet but shows promise; if someone likes what they read here now then they’ll want more later on down the road once we’ve finished working together! And finally.

Finally: If none of those things sound right for whatever reason then maybe just emailing along some other interesting stuff instead?

Take The Time To Edit And Revise Your Work Thoroughlybefore Submitting It

You should always be editing and revising your work before submitting it. If you’re writing a story, it should have a story arc. The best way to learn what this is is via an example:

In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker meets Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine and learns that he has the Force with him. He then goes off on his adventure, meeting Han Solo and Chewbacca along the way before battling Darth Vader in Cloud City at the end of the movie.

In The Hunger Games (a book turned into two movies), Katniss Everdeen volunteers for her sister Primrose’s place in The Hunger Games when she doesn’t qualify due to being under 18 years old.

After winning two games in a row against all odds, Katniss decides she will do whatever it takes even die to stop future tributes from being sent into battle against each other in this deadly competition where there can only be one winner.

Put Your Best Lines Up Front

When you’re writing for magazines, it’s important to remember that you have about two or three seconds to capture the reader’s attention. 

If your opening paragraph is dragging on and you don’t have anything good in there yet, it can be tempting to throw in an extra sentence or two just to keep going. But if those sentences aren’t exactly as strong as what will come later on in the piece if they don’t help establish tone or context then they’ll just end up being wasted words.

Instead of trying to force something into your introduction when it doesn’t quite fit, try putting all your best lines at the end of each paragraph instead (or at least one per paragraph). 

This lets readers know right away that this article is worth reading; then they can enjoy themselves while getting through your less-spectacular beginning paragraphs before diving deeper into what makes this story so interesting and unique.

Make sure there’s a structure (story arc) to your piece, even if it’s only a few pages long. This is not just useful for editors, it will help your writing, too.

Make sure there’s a structure (story arc) to your piece, even if it’s only a few pages long. This is not just useful for editors, it will help your writing, too.

Understand that most magazines don’t pay writers per word. They pay by the page or story, so you need to make sure that every word counts and fits into their budget.

Don’t start with the idea that your piece will be nonfiction or fiction; just pick an approach that works for that particular piece.

Don’t start with the idea that your piece will be nonfiction or fiction; just pick an approach that works for that particular piece. If you’ve got a great story, tell it in a way that fits the story best. If an article is more about research than storytelling, then use more quotes and have less of your voice.

You may have heard that every magazine has its “voice” something unique to them as a publication. For example, Wired’s articles are very technical and use lots of data, whereas Vanity Fair tends to focus on celebrity interviews and celebrity culture. 

But don’t let this concept intimidate you! As long as your article is written well and gets its point across (in whatever style), it will read fine anywhere.

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Hopefully, I’ve given you some good advice and suggestions for getting started writing for magazines. If there’s one thing that I wish I knew when I first started, it would be that it doesn’t matter what kind of writing you do nonfiction or fiction just so long as you have a strong idea in mind and can make it work with your readers.

Further Reading

Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Submitting My Writing: Gain insights and valuable tips from experienced writers to improve your writing submission process.

7 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Writing: Catherine Ferguson shares seven valuable lessons she wishes she knew at the beginning of her writing journey.

How to Write and Sell Articles for Magazines: Nichola Meyer provides expert guidance on crafting compelling magazine articles and successfully selling them.


What are the key elements of a successful writing submission?

A successful writing submission should have a clear and engaging writing style, a well-defined target audience, and a compelling storyline or argument.

How can I overcome writer’s block and stay motivated?

To overcome writer’s block and stay motivated, try setting a writing schedule, experimenting with different writing techniques, and seeking inspiration from other authors or creative outlets.

What strategies can I use to improve my writing skills?

Improving writing skills involves regular practice, seeking feedback from peers or mentors, reading extensively, and studying various writing styles.

How do I approach the process of selling my articles to magazines?

To sell articles to magazines, research suitable publications, tailor your submissions to match their style and content, and follow their submission guidelines diligently.

How can I handle rejection and stay resilient as a writer?

Handling rejection is a common part of the writing journey. Stay resilient by reframing rejection as an opportunity to learn and improve, and remember that successful writers often face rejection before finding success.