So You Wanna Be A Writer? Here's How To Get Started...

So, you have followed your true calling and embraced the written word as a means for earning your livelihood. Here’s what to expect- total disorientation, rejection slips coming in as regular as your newspaper, un-replied mails in your mail-box, desperation to see your name in print as soon as possible…you get the picture. Nothing gives more pleasure than being published and being appreciated for your work but lets face it going on to become a earning professional writer from a published-a-couple-of-times-writer, is a long way.
Don’t let the reality check dishearten you- setbacks are only an initial phenomenon and once you are out there rocking the writing market, there is no stopping you. Meanwhile, here are a few things to do that will help you sail through to your big-breakthrough.

• Read “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”: sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? Believe me, it really perks up the mood when you read about the failures and rejections so many booker-prize type authors went through before they went to take on the world. It is bound to inspire, re-assure and motivate you to keep going. After all, that is what the Chicken Soup Series is for!

• Writer’s Block can plague you even before you become a “real” writer. There will be times when you just wouldn’t know what to write about. Use that time to read and surf the net. Go through features and articles in magazines and see if you can re-write the same topic with a different and individual perspective. Websites like Helium and eHow have a host of subjects that could be used as a prompt. Take your pick from the many and get started.

• Start small: it is not a wise idea to make your first submission to a leading international publication. Big magazines usually have their own panel of in-house writers and tend to entertain only widely published and established freelancers. Start off with a local or lesser known publication that pays a decent amount and use that publishing success as a stepping stone to building your place in the market. At times, it is all right to offer your work for free if the publication is well-known and has a wide readership. Magazines that do not pay for contribution, would usually agree to include your photograph with a by-line and contact information which can get you writing offers from other publications in the future. Remember- public exposure is as important as the quality of your writing.

• Splash yourself over the internet: Blog, self-publish and display a few versatile writing samples on community websites like EditRed. Apart from an honest critique of your work by fellow-writers, you get a platform to show-case your work to prospective publishers who may want to sign you up for a long-term writing contract. Once you have a considerable amount of credentials as a writer, you can consider building your own web-site for heightening your publicity quotient.

• Though print-magazines always stand as a more preferable option, it can take several months before your work actually appears even after acceptance. Payment can take even longer. For a writer who just started out, this can be rather disheartening and depressing. E-zines, on the other hand, are prompt with replies and since they are exclusively web-based, it does not take too long for your article to be published and you get paid sooner too. What’s more, it is easier to send across links to your family, friends and prospective publishers to flaunt your successes!

• Start easy: consider beginning with easy-to-write topics like “how-to’s” and general interest articles. Detailed features for niche publications may require a strong back-ground knowledge and extensive research on the topic. You could also write for publications that deal with your area of expertise or educational back-ground. Specialty magazines are usually higher paying than the rest but the general-interest ones have a larger audience.

• Set up a work-station: Have your own personal corner at home if a proper office is not feasible. Arrange your works into files and document all incoming and outgoing mail. Even on your laptop or PC, it helps to sort out articles based on their theme in separate folders so that you know where to look if you consider re-submitting an article to a new magazine.

• Be consistent: Once you submit and article, don’t waste your time waiting for a reply- simply forget about it and get started on a new one. Make it a point to make at least 2-5 submission everyday to different publications. This way you will considerably increase your chances of being published and ensure a steady influx of cheques.

• The importance of doing an advance market research cannot be emphasized enough. Know your publication well before making a query or a submission. Aimlessly mailing queries and articles to random addresses will lead you nowhere. Similarly, familiarize yourself with the publication BEFORE you write an article rather than writing first and then shopping for a market. It seldom works the other way around.

• Make a few investments- get yourself a copy of Writer’s market or a similar publications directory. We are usually familiar with popular publications that we subscribe to or the ones we often come across at news-stands. There is a whole vast market waiting to be explored – literary magazines, newsletters, niche magazines- publications which are not highly publicized but have a decent distribution.

• If you are working on short-stories or novels and find yourself running short of creative ideas and plots, try reminiscing about an incident from your own life or from someone you know and weave a story around it. If you wake up one morning and still remember a dream vaguely- pen it down immediately! Dreams can provide you with the most unusual and highly creative ideas for romantic and science fiction. Just so that you know- the best stories were born out of random dreams. So take them as a message from God!

• Last but not the least, originality and individuality are the two aspects that will help you build a reputation among publishers. Strike a balance between what you want to write and what the publishers want you to submit. Avoid churning out run-of-the-mill articles that have been done to death before. Novelty and innovation always earn their due. Happy writing!


  1. Nice start shuchi! You covered a lot of ground there! Some real valuable info! Keep it going! Cheers!

  2. After reading this, it sure is going to be "Happy writing" for me! Thanks...

  3. thanks for sharing this Shuchi. It's so very motivating

  4. thanks, the article written by you is really helpful! :)

  5. hi shuchi, i read ur article, its really helping! but can u please give me the complete url of the site u have mentioned i.e: EditRed? and what would be the advantage if i log in there?

  6. hi Shuchi, the article was very motivating and I hope for a very happy writing in future


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