Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Are You Feeling The Squeeze?


Shaheera from London emailed assignment 2 to me saying, "I've attached my attempt at Assignment 2. I struggled to get my piece down to 600 words (my first draft is closer to 1000!) and had to lose lots of facts."

Having read Shaheera's assignment, I can certainly confirm that her struggle was worth it. Why had she cut her piece to 600 words? Because that's how long the articles are in the section of the magazine she was targeting.

She was acting like a true professional. Six hundred words was all she was allowed, so that's what she's going to be sending to the magazine. Many people would be horrified at the thought of deleting 40% of their work, but it was what Shaheera had to do to fit the requirements of the magazine.

And this an important aspect of writing for publication. Remember, you are competing with the professionals, so you need to act professionally. If an editor rang up a professional writer and asked for 600 words, the professional writer would produce 600 words.

It doesn't matter that the 1,000 word piece may be better. The editor only has room for 600 words. The local car dealer may be selling a top of the range Rolls Royce, but if you only have room to park a Mini at home, then the Rolls Royce won't fit. It may well be a better car, with better workmanship and of a higher quality, but it's no use to you whatsoever, if you can't fit it in your garage or on your drive.

As Shaheera said, she's had to remove a lot of facts from her piece, but they're not wasted. Just because she couldn't use them in this article, it doesn't mean that she can't use them in another article. In fact if she can produce another article on a similar subject, she'll probably find that it's easier to write because she's already done much of the research.

So whilst the news is talking about subjects like the global credit crunch, and how the population is getting bigger and finding it more difficult to fit into our old clothes, think about the squeeze on your words. Less often means more. Ensuring you squeeze enough words from your first draft to make it fit your target publication, will really increase your chances of success.

Good luck.

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