Here are a few tips on how to get writing experience – and the good news is that getting clips so you can get published is easier than you think! If you need writing experience, relax into the knowledge that you can be a successful writer – even if you’ve never had anything published.
Reading On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King is your first step to getting writing experience. If you want to get published, you need to learn how to write good!
“Every writer has to start somewhere. This isn’t the end of the road, it’s just the beginning! Julia Cameron started out as a journalist. Anne Lamott wrote restaurant reviews. Barbara Kingsolver credits journalism with forcing her away from her computer to meet people she would not otherwise see.” ~ Christina Katz, Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids.
It’s the classic Catch-22: to get writing jobs, you need good clips. To get clips, you need good writing gigs. The good news is that there are many options for getting writing experience and getting published. Once you get a good stable of writing samples – well written, edited, and designed – you can use them to get better and better writing assignments. You work your way up!
Here are five ways to get writing clips so you can get published in the magazine of your dreams.
5 Tips on How to Get Writing Experience
With these tips, you’ll soon have published work samples, called clips, which you can use to get bigger and better writing assignments. This is how you get writing experience…
Write for local magazines and newspapers
Local publications can teach you how to target article ideas to different audiences and publications. For example, you could cover a school board meeting on a policy to prevent students from sexting for your local newspaper. Then, use the information you gathered at the meeting and the sources you met to write an article describing how parents can keep their kids from sexting for a local parenting magazine and an article on how teachers will implement the new policy for a regional educational newsletter. Not only have you gained writing experience and three great clips published, you’ve also demonstrated your versatility as a writer.
If you’re new to freelance writing, read 15 Things You Need to Be a Freelance Writer.
Go online for writing opportunities
Look for blogs and online magazines in your specialty area, and offer to write for them. Because blogs and websites are expected to always have fresh content, the amount of writing involved can be overwhelming. A site owner will likely appreciate the help in providing high-quality content for their readers, which will help you get published.
Explore trade magazines
These targeted periodicals offer opportunities for writers who have experience or knowledgeable contacts in a specific field. If you have worked as a nurse for 10 years, you probably have the necessary knowledge to pitch a query letter and write an article for a nursing publication. Study your potential markets and find out what types of articles they publish and then target your topic to fit. And, learn how to get published in niche markets. Knowing how to get writing experience is about thinking outside the box.
Write for a nonprofit organization
This can be an amazing way to meld your passion and your career – and a great way to get writing experience. Do you believe in a great cause? Check to see if they have need for a skilled writer. Perhaps they need help with their newsletter or press releases. If your passion is animals, see if your local humane society needs help. If you are inclined to help women and children, offer your talents to a nearby women’s shelter. Keep all the articles you write – they’re your clips – for your chosen cause and use the best ones to help you get published in other magazines.
Take a writing class – a surefire way to get writing experience
Working with a writing instructor is like working with an editor. You submit your work, receive feedback, and then revise your writing to incorporate that feedback. Taking a writing class doesn’t just give you writing experience, it can also help you stretch as a writer by requiring you to write in different styles and for different types of publications. You can use your completed and revised assignments as evidence of your writing skill, or you can submit them to the appropriate publication to get that ever-important published clip.
Do you have any stories of how you got your first writing clip – or questions about how to get writing experience? Comments welcome below.
If you’re a new freelancer – or if your freelance writing career needs a boost – read The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less. It’s the number one bestselling freelance writing book on Amazon.com.
About the author: Jennifer Roland is a freelance writer and editor focusing on parenting, women’s interests, ed tech, personal finance, and pop culture. Read her blog and find out more about her book, The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology.
Are you concerned you’ll never get an assignment? Read 10 Ways to Get Writing Gigs.