Five Steps to Successful Writing

You’ve made up your mind that you want to become a “successful writer.” Before you take steps toward achieving that goal, you first need to define the term.

What makes a writer a success? Writing something he or she is passionate about? Earning a pay check large enough to be able to retire from the day job? Have a byline (even if it comes with no remuneration)? Having a print (or online) forum in which to share your words? Define that and you are well on your way to writing success.

Now that you’ve defined what success means you can take the steps necessary to achieve it. Regardless of which pinnacle of success you choose, here are some steps to reach that summit:

1. Are you going to write a novel? Do you want to write and publish newspaper or magazine articles? If you belong to an organization that provides goods and/or services, there is likely a trade publication in which you might pursue publication. Look around the magazine shelves at your local bookstore and even browse the racks at a nearby grocery store as many publications are offered free on the shelves and may be a good source for publication.

2. Study the market. Read what you want to write about. You can’t send an article off “blind” or the editor will spot you as an amateur immediately. If you submit an article on Top 10 Tips to Lose Weight and the magazine published that topic one month ago, the editor will know you haven’t done your research. Want to get your words out on the worldwide web? Pull up Google and do a search on the topic on which you want to write, go to the sites and see if they accept submissions. Be sure to check out article writing sites as a source for your submissions as well.

3. Once you’ve found the publication in which you want to see your byline, the deep research begins. In what format does the editor accept submissions (hard copy through the mail, electronic); do they accept queries or will they only consider complete pieces? Check the publications’ website or a “Writer’s Market” type book to determine how the editor accepts submissions. Don’t bypass the submission guidelines – they are there for a reason and the editor expects them to be followed.

4. Read and re-read your query or article before submitting. If you’re sending a query, will it grab the editor? Have you shown the editor why you are the best person for this assignment? Tease the editor with a great opening line, interesting facts. If the piece isn’t written, let him or her know when you could have the piece complete once the assignment is given.

5. Don’t sit back waiting to hear back from that one publication, continue to research the markets, query publications and write your way toward success.

You want to achieve writing success? Then write, submit and write some more. Success comes to those who work at it.

Robbi Hess is a staff writer for the American Educational Guidance Center, which publishes educational websites that assist students of all ages in conducting a successful college search and choosing an online degree program which best meets their needs.

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