Thursday, February 26, 2009

Still Crap Then!

I just had to report another success with the 'My Crap Holiday' slot in the travel section of The Observer newspaper. Vicky McMillan emailed to say that her submission was used in last Sunday's paper. You can read it by following this link. Well done Vicky.

It's great to see so many people having success with this slot, but I also want to use it to illustrate another point. There is a great demand for words out there. The Crap Holiday slot needs to be filled EVERY week. And that's just one 400-word column. Multiply this by the number of pages in that newspaper section, then the newspaper itself, then all the other Sunday newspapers, daily newspapers, magazines, trade journals, websites ... and so on, and you begin to get an impression of just how many words the publishing industry has an insatiable appetite for.

It can become very disheartening if you send your work out there and you don't hear anything or it gets rejected. But remember this - editors are dealing with a lot of material in order to fill all of those pages - and, more importantly, they're desperate to fill those pages and need good quality material to be supplied. Which is where you come in.

I was at a writer's workshop once, which was being led by Iain Pattison who tutors for the Writer's Bureau from time to time. One of the workshop attendees had asked him the question "how do you deal with writer's block?". (A word of warning - don't ask Iain this question, he gets quite worked up about this point!) I happen to agree with Iain's answer, which was, "There's no such thing as writer's block. Writer's block is a luxury. Writer's block doesn't put food on the table."

Professional writers produce words. They have to because they have deadlines. To illustrate the point, Iain expanded upon his answer by asking the rest of the group a question. "How many times have you bought a magazine or newspaper and opened it up to find a series of blank pages, followed by an apology from the editor saying 'Sorry for the lack of text, but all our writers are suffering from writer's block today?"

It just doesn't happen, because it can't happen. Those pages have to be filled, and they're only filled by writers who write and submit work.

This is why it is important to continue submitting work on a regular basis. Just because one piece wasn't picked by an editor one week, it doesn't mean to say that another of your pieces won't be picked by them on a different week. So keep sending those words out there. Remember, everything that you read was written by somebody!

Incidentally, this submission was Vicky's answer to the 'filler' question in Assignment 4, which she'd written and submitted at the beginning of February. This is one of the fastest turnarounds I've come across, seeing an assignment submission become a published piece!

Hmmm, have I just thrown down a gauntlet by any chance?

Good luck.