- Tips For Overcoming Eight Mistakes by Resmi Shaji  

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Tips For Overcoming Eight Mistakes

by Resmi Shaji


Call it lack of confidence or knowledge; aspiring writers tend to take steps that they regret at a later stage. This happened to me and led me through a struggle of nearly eight months before I saw my name in print for the first time.

Apart from the most commonly talked-about guidelines for those wishing to make an entry to the writing world, there is more to be explored. Each of us encounters a variety of experiences through the struggle of getting published. We learn the best from our experience, so hereby, I am sharing some of the lessons I learned during my effort to get see my name in print.

[1] Be ready with sample work:

Never wait for someone to approach you to ask for a writing sample on one particular subject. It is better to have sample articles of your favorite subjects in your file to avoid the last moment running around.

At the same time, beware of people who ask for a sample piece of work written just for them. There are people preying on the Net to take advantage of you, especially if you tell them you are a newbie. In the desperation of getting published, you risk overlooking or not knowing enough about the publication or Website you are being asked to write for.

In a recent incident, an advertisement calling for web content writers was listed in many writing sites. On responding to the ad, the applicant was asked to write three sample pieces consisting of 10,000 words. If selected, they were informed they would get big money. The unfortunate writers who responded to this with their sample works were rejected for shaky reasons. The advertiser, without doubt, must have gotten his work done for him (free) and didn't need to hire writers anymore. This does not mean all the posts you see are bogus. There are many authentic calls for submissions available on the Net, but you must have an eye to identify which are legitimate and which are not.

[2] Approach with confidence:

Many aspiring writers fear rejection. They fail to realize rejections are a part of life and happen with even the most experienced writers. It happens whether you are querying a magazine with local, national, or international repute. When you are a newbie, you take this to heart and things seem to get worse for you. Frequent rejection from a local publication does not mean you are poor at writing.

If you get a chance to prove your skills with a major publication and if your query or submission stands above the rest, you are certain to get opportunities of getting published.

Most importantly, give a deaf ear to all those who say you should first try your luck with a smaller publication. Listen to your intuition. If you have the self-confidence, determination and aim of making your dreams come true, no one can stop you.

[3] Familiarize:

The general advice given by the experienced writers says you have to be familiar with the publication you intend to write by reading at least six of their issues. Yes, it is essential to familiarize with the style of writing. But do you think it is necessary to read six issues to learn the style? If you have the ability to grasp the style of writing and the topics they include in their magazine, you need to get your hand only on 1-2 of the issues.

[4] Relinquish greediness:

Unless otherwise asked, never say you are new to writing. Labeling yourself as a newbie could cut down your fees. At the same time, do not expect top rates when you have little-to-no experience. If you find an editor is offering a very low amount, try negotiating. Nevertheless, as long as you are struggling to break into the writing world, never be greedy. Even if you have to do it free, do it with a cheerful face. True, there are publications that will pay you well even as a new writer, but when you're just starting out, your main goal should be to build up your credits.

[5] Edit the final piece:

Proofread again and again. I generally proofread and edit before the final submissions at least five times. If there are no time constraints or deadline for the article, see to it you take at least two days off to keep the work with you and split up your proofreading over different times of the same day.

Still better, try to make a friend or a family member read your final piece. There are chances of another person finding a mistake that you overlooked. Once, I found I made a mistake of typing "of" instead of "for" and never happened to see it until six months later. This happened in spite of the fact that I had re-read and edited the same article ten times!

[6] Fight criticism:

Promote your talents by spreading the word to your friends, relatives and acquaintances. Do not be afraid to tell them you like to write or you want to be a writer. As long as they do not see your name in print or on the Web, you are prone to be an element of mockery from near and dears. Let those criticizing words never tamper your spirit.

You will be excited to see how people suddenly change their opinion about you and give you high regards when they finally see your name in print. Believe me, they will respect you even if they had been skeptical before.

[7] Network with care:

Every writer should love to network. Networking helps by sharing knowledge. As long as it is done with a cheerful heart, it brings in positive results. There are a lot of recognized names in the writing world who want to see talented new writers coming onto the scene. It does not mean all those who show you a smiling face are truly keen to show you the right path.

You can approach a particular publisher by finding out their details through the Web or the magazine. Never rely entirely on anyone to give you all the correct details, even if the person you are contacting is writing for the same magazine.

[8] Think twice:

The Internet is good to rely on for research, finding markets, ideas, and basics of writing or networking. With many publications having a web presence, it is not difficult to keep abreast of their updates. If you buy a book, it will never get updated on its own. You can get a lot of free yet trustworthy information on various aspects of writing from writing sites like AbsoluteWrite.com or Writing-World.com. If you intend to freelance only for magazines or newspapers, they are rarely going to ask for your educational qualifications. They will prefer to see your skills-- which is what samples or clips are for. Extra courses in journalism or writing are not going to make you a better interviewer or researcher. Experience is going to make you better.

These are a few of the many small mistakes beginning writers make. If each of us makes an attempt to share our experience with others, it would be of great help to the newbies. Good luck to all!

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Resmi Shaji is a freelance writer and web designer based in Kerala, India. Her works have appeared or accepted for publication in several international and national magazines, websites and ezines. Web site: http://travel.to/resmicreations Email: resmi_shaji@rediffmail.com

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