So, you wrote the perfect query letter, impressed that head honcho editor, and finally landed that plum assignment…now what?
Ten Steps to Prepare For Your Freelance Magazine Assignment
- Let Go of Fear. Sometimes writer’s block is simply a function of fear. Now would not be a good time to let writer’s block creep in. Let go of any lingering doubts and write the best article you can use the following tips.
- Set Yourself Up. Find a quiet space where you can concentrate. Make sure you have all the items you need within reach. Keep some scratch paper nearby and ask your family or housemates to leave you alone during your work. However, if you need inspiration, chatter or company, consider taking your laptop to a café. I’ve heard of writers who will match their work to the appropriate setting; a meaty essay is written at the library, while a trendy pop culture article is taken to a co-working office.
- Get the Specs. If your editor hasn’t provided a word count, photo needs and/or subheadings, ask for them. Sometimes this information is written into your contract.
- Put Yourself In Your Reader’s Place. Start from where your audience is. Try this visioning exercise: You’re in a big bookstore. Your target reader picks up a copy of the publication. What’s he need? What’s she look like? What exactly will make him or her purchase the magazine? Once the sale is made, what does your reader need in your article? What is it that you want to tell this person? Imagining the reader in a real and concrete way may inspire you and open the floodgates.
- Put Yourself In Your Editor’s Place. What does this busy person who hired you need? When do they need it, and what form do they need it in? Again, you may want to turn to your contract for some clues.
- Scan Past Issues. This is the best way to gather clues about tone, use of subheads, quotes, pictures and other specifics. However, this should only be a refresher, since knowing these things is what got you the sale in the first place.
- Gather Your Sources. Some writers may wait until after the article is fleshed out before they turn to source materials and quotes. However, speaking with your experts now may provide a new direction to explore, or cause you to rethink your given position. Go ahead, see what they have to say!
- Don’t Edit As You Write- Just Write. Ok, admittedly some writers can go back and switch things around in the midst of an article. But, if you’re suffering from Beginner’s Doubt or are writing one of your first published articles, it may be a good idea to just plow through once before you start getting picky.
- Write the Beginning and End. Some writers find this to be the most difficult part, so it may be advisable to get it over with. Also, it can help you to target your word count more accurately.
- Get Others Opinions On Your Article. Bounce ideas off your spouse, a writing group or a friend. They might have a new perspective that you haven’t yet considered.
Don’t freeze up now! It is the break you’ve been waiting for. Make sure that your article is off to a running start, and before you know it, that editor will be contacting you again.