Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Writing for the Season

Seasonal Topics

In the world of publishing, the year is marked and divided by seasons and important holidays. Many magazines work months ahead on these events and a Christmas article submitted in late November will be far too late. Newspapers and internet markets, generally work to shorter deadlines but still start preparing a month or two in advance.

Looking Ahead
Train yourself to work several months ahead. Retail stores do this. Each year, mince pies, Christmas trees, hot cross buns, chocolate rabbits and Easter eggs flood the shelves for weeks before the actual event. Writers need to work along similar lines.

With the new year looming, now is the perfect time to plan for 2009. Do this by using a calendar and diary and making a note of the change of seasons and local holidays. Then, depending on what publication you are aiming your work at, make a note in your diary of a date to start working on an Easter story or an article for Independence Day. Some magazines put out guidelines with cut-off dates for submissions for each issue. Enter these in your diary as well.

Focus on the Topic
A few months before, research ideas and possible subjects so your work will be focused and accurate. In early November, I got a book out of the library on Christmas customs around the world. Using this, I compiled an article for Suite101 called Christmas Customs and Celebrations. Over the last week it has jumped to second highest on my list of article reads. Analyze your markets and try and supply what they will be looking for, at the appropriate time.

Fresh Ideas
Publications are always looking for a fresh approach to old subjects and welcome articles that will catch the reader’s interest. Try choosing an item or theme and brainstorm some ideas around it. As we are in the Christmas season, here are some examples of what could be written about Christmas decorations:

  • Interview with a local decoration manufacturer (Find them at craft shops/fairs)
  • Technical explanation of how glass baubles are made
  • History of decorations and their early origins
  • Stats on how many decorations are sold worldwide/in your city/in your local store
  • Interview with city authorities about who maintains and hangs the street decorations etc
  • The cost of power used to run Christmas lights

With Christmas almost upon us, now is the time to look ahead to upcoming holidays and events such as Valentine’s Day and Easter. Many areas also have local celebrations that provide opportunities for writers. There is plenty of work available – get your diary out and make a plan of how to capture your share next year.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 and Faithwriters.

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