Monday, 6 June 2011

Think Like A Writer ... Not A Reader

"None of the magazines I like use freelance writers," is a common moan I hear from students. "Women's magazines just don't interest me," is another I hear from some of my male students.

One thing these comments have in common, is that these potential writers are going into their local newsagents, gazing at the magazines on the shelves in front of them and thinking like a READER.

NO. NO. NO. NO! If you want to be a writer, then you have to look at magazines as a WRITER. Don't buy a magazine because you think it looks like one that you'll enjoy reading - buy it to see if you might be able to write something for it.

This means going out of your way to buy a magazine you wouldn't normally buy. Buy titles you've never looked at before. Buy titles you've never heard of before. Buy titles you can't even pronounce! (The picture in this posting, being one such publication.)

I am no gardener, but I have had articles published in gardening magazines. I haven't built my own house, but I had an article published in SelfBuild & Design magazine. I don't live in Cumbria, but I've had several articles published in the county magazine, Cumbria.

Every publication you see is a potential market. Remember, every word you read has been written by somebody, so take a closer look. Why shouldn't that somebody be you? For the men, that means buying the women's magazines ... and yes, they do use articles written by men, because I've done it. And for the women, that means buying men's magazines, like Men's Health or What Car? ... and yes ... I've seen articles written by women in both of these.

Don't let your prejudices as a reader, influence your thinking as a writer. I often say to students that writing for the magazines they enjoy reading can be a good thing to start off with, because as a regular reader, you already know what the magazine is about and the type of articles they like to use. (As a reader, you'll have been subconsciously doing the market analysis bit, as you've read the publication for your personal enjoyment.) However, the publications you read are simply the very pinprick at the tip of that iceberg of publications.

Next time you see a magazine you've never seen before, take a closer look. If you've never looked at it before, how do you know that you won't be able to write something for it?

Good luck.


  1. Thank you for this excellent advice Simon...

  2. Wise words, Simon. And don't forget to check out publications from other English speaking countries as well. I started out looking for my usual Green Living niche and ended up writing about the benefits of keeping chickens!

  3. Great to see another useful blog - especially with so many fellow WB students as followers!

    Happy to be a regular reader now Simon.

    Bev :o)

  4. Thanks for the post. I can see a lot more doors opening up for me now! :-)

  5. Exactly Diane! The more magazines your look at, the more potential amrkets you have!