To get published, you have to act. Or in this case, write. As often as you can, wherever you can, at the highest quality you can possibly assert.
If you want to get your name out there, and solidify your brand as you grow, it’s important to take advantage of as many networking and skill-developing experiences as possible. To do that, you have to really be aware of the opportunities available, in case something comes along at just the right time.
It’s tough to stay up-to-date on what’s out there when you’re not currently in an active search. You’ll either end up trying to commit to too much or feel like you’re missing out on something that could really help build up your portfolio.
Here’s how to utilize those writing opportunities even when you know you can’t fully commit to them … right now, anyway.
Ask all your questions before you apply and/or pitch
Job and internship postings, as well as pitching guideline pages, have a lot of information, but not always everything you’re looking for. While it might be tempting to “just apply anyway,” it’s a dangerous thing to do if you’re not sure exactly what an editor is going to expect from you from week to week, or even from day to day.
It doesn’t hurt to ask questions before you apply. Editors get questions from prospective writing applicants all the time (or they fully expect and welcome them, at least). How many hours/articles/pitches per week/month? What is the average length of one submission? What other requirements, like photos, go along with each general assignment?
There is no such thing as a “dumb” question, and it’s better to have more than enough details than to miss something important that might not allow you to make a full commitment.
Create a potential list of pitches for future use
Even if you’re not always writing, you’re probably always coming up with new ideas. That’s just how the brain of a writer works. Just because you have an idea, but don’t necessarily have time right this second to tell somebody about it, doesn’t mean you can’t save it for later.
It’s not healthy, though, to let your head get too crammed with ideas. They need a place to stretch their legs even when you can’t give them somewhere to run to yet. Write them down. Create a list of story ideas and pitches you might be able to use later. When you snag a free hour to write something, you’ll already have a list of ideas to choose from. This can help you make better use of your writing time, especially when there just isn’t a plethora of it sitting around.
Evaluate your current schedule and plan ahead
Editors, publishers, potential employers—they’re all looking for the same things: who are you, where are you and what are you doing? No matter what you have on your plate, it’s important to put your online portfolio—aka, whatever pops up when someone Googles your name—toward the top of your priority list.
To do this, though, you’ll need to take a good look at your schedule, both the current one and the future one. What do you have going on right now that’s keeping you from writing an extra article or two here and there? Will you still be doing that thing one month, three months, six months from now? Is there something you can put to the side, at least for a little while, to make room for a little extra portfolio-building?
Don’t take this to mean you should put off or completely ditch getting a college degree to focus on writing. Never. Do. That. Why? Oh, let us count the reasons. Actually, we’ll just have to give them to you in the form of another post.
Come back later this week for that. It’s going to be fun.
Keep writing. Even when you don’t think you can handle it. You can. You will.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.