What Should I Write About?Posted: August 24, 2009
Here’s a question that sometimes plagues new freelance writers. “What should I write about?”
When article ideas don’t come easily to you, when you’re not tripping over ideas with every step you take, when your creative well seems to have run dry, where do you go for help? Sometimes the answer is as easy as deciding what to fix for dinner tonight.
Scores of magazines offer recipes and menus to help you get a meal to the table on time. The same thing is true for writing subjects. The answer to “What can I write about?” can be as simple as picking up a publication or spending time at a local newsstand checking a magazine’s table of contents.
Here’s one example:
An article by writer Marge Jesberger in the March/April issue of Writer’s Journal offers this gem:
Demand is Great–You Can Supply
Every time you pick up a magazine, you see something on diet or exercise. You also see articles on flea markets in the spring and snow sports in the winter. You feel the market is glutted, so why compete? That is the best reason to submit a well-researched and up-to-date article on these subjects. If something is popular, editors and publishers are on the lookout for more of the same.
That advice holds for most any type of magazine — general interest, specialty, trade journal, health care, business, you name it. Back in journalism school, our instructors used to call the perennial sellers “evergreens.” These are types of articles — much like asters, daylillies and other perennial flowers that emerge for us to enjoy year after year— that come back regularly and never seem to go out of favor with readers.
So if you want to know what to write about next, pick up any target magazine of your choice and look for “evergreens” within its pages. Check several issues, maybe even go to the library and read back issues to find out which evergreens the editors seem to favor.
Then get busy and query with an updated version of one subject that you like. Granted this approach won’t result in blockbuster articles that fetch big bucks, but it will keep you writing, get your name and writing skills in front of editors, and probably add a modest sum to your yearly income.
I think you’ll find that editors welcome queries about the tried-and-true subjects that please their readers. And that can be a quick way to get a byline and a check — and sometimes a regular writing gig with a publication.
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© 2009 by Laverne Daley