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How to Get Started Writing for Your Dream Publication

Starting your writing career can be intimidating – all those publications you have worshipped for years seem to all be too good for you. The fear of editors laughing at your samples and tearing them apart as they delete your e-mail can cause doubt in even the most confident writers.

Some of you reading this might not even know how to begin, and lack the know-how of traversing the seemingly mountainous barriers of entry to the world of publishing. Well, this guide will let you know just how to do so and get you one step closer to writing at your publication of choice.

1. Start writing

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Photo by BossFight

This one’s pretty obvious, but it seems to allude plenty of people about getting started in writing. Whether it’s a blog or Dr Who fan-fiction, you’ll need samples to get started. It’s the easiest way to prove your worth especially if you don’t have a degree in Journalism or if your educational background is completely different from what you want to do now.

Plenty of people who send job applications don’t even have writing samples ready, and I have always found that baffling. Never send in a resume without a writing sample. If you have never written anything, or even if you have samples at hand, write something you think would fit into the publication naturally. You can’t expect publications to give you a shot out of blind faith. Make their decision as easy as possible.

2. Apply for a position

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If you are one of those aspiring writers who’s really shy and has zero confidence about your work, it’s time to get over yourself. The fact of the matter is that you are not going to get far without a good editor to guide you. Sometimes that means you will have your writing torn apart, but that’s just part of the learning process, don’t run from that pain. Run towards it because it will make you stronger.

If you are completely new to the industry, chances are you will have to start as an intern. It’s a sacrifice you’ll have to make. While your peers with full-time jobs are partying out on the weekend, you will be counting your pennies and sipping on cup noodles.

It’s a test of resilience, and it will pay off. Put your ego aside and take that internship position because it’s a doorway to a lot of opportunities. Besides, it’s natural for interns to make mistakes, so it’s a great way for you to learn the ropes.

3. Be tenacious

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Photo by BossFight

Sometimes you are not going to get the publication you want, but there’s really nothing to stop you from applying again. That’s not to say you should start spamming the editor, if you resend your application, make sure some time has passed and it’s new material. Show some dedication and it will go a long way to prove your worth.

You might have to take a position at another publication for a while, but you should use that experience to bolster your resume. You might even rub shoulders with someone from your dream publication at an event and weasel your way in that way.

4. Contribute pieces

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If you already have a blog, it can be a good idea to share your content with other blogs and publications. There are a few places that only take original contributions, so you will have to check. Most sites are open to re-publishing content as long as the quality of work and style suit the publication’s standards.

This will help you bolster your portfolio and gain some points with publications you’re trying to get into. You should also be open to sharing content to publishers that aren’t in your country, The Huffington Post, for example, accepts contributions from time to time.

5. Develop your voice

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Editors at popular publications probably get email job applications every day. Most of them will be boring and disappointing,  but occasionally a uniquely well-written letter will pique their interest. You want to be that guy or gal.

Do your research before writing samples of a cover letter. Find out what style the publications adopt and use that in your writing. If you are gunning for an online publication, chances are that the style of writing will be conversational, and you will have to adapt to that.

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