The Dish on Articles {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 26}

The first time I ever clicked “follow” in blog world was on Ann Voskamp’s site, A Holy Experience. My friend Sarah had led me to her and I settled right in with the beautiful imagery, the grace-filled moments, and the devotion to God all served up on the farm table. Soon, through following Ann around to other sites where she dished out words, I came upon other hearty stuff on the internet, stretching like the table at a good after-church potluck.

Through (in)courage and The High Calling, I found Emily Freeman, Deidra Riggs, Lisa Jo Baker, Amber Haines and the like. I followed these from their internet homes to other community places like Prodigal Magazine, Deeper Story and Tweetspeak (which I’d also been introduced to through my real life friend Charity). Then, through another real life friend Kelli’s articles, I began reading Kyria/Today’s Christian Woman and Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics. Little by little I’ve been getting my bearings in this little corner of the web where my kind of people are finding a place to set their words.

Maybe this could be a good start for you. Take some time to venture out from your favorite writers’ personal blogs and columns to see where else they share. If their words sit well with you, the places where they share those words will probably do the same. This could be an offshoot of the old “write what you know” adage: “write with who you know.”

But the age-old advice itself applies here, too. When you know something well, you’ve got that secret ingredient, that natural element of credibility. If you’re an expert at something, or are interested enough to do the research to become one, start your writing there.

While you’re at it, pay attention to the periodicals that feed that part of you. Do you subscribe to a particular gardening magazine? Maybe you’ll want to work up a piece on edible landscaping and submit it there. Maybe you’re working hard at homeschooling and have some creative lesson plans to share. Give back to the publications that inspire you by sending them your own ideas in return.

Maybe you have survived a difficult experience such as cancer or a life-threatening injury and want to share your experience to help others navigate similar situations by writing for a health or inspirational publication. Maybe you have a passion for a particular era or classic author and could share that perspective in light of a current event by submitting to a magazine where you’ve seen similar topics covered.

This past year, most of my writing time has gone toward getting my blog established. Outside of my own site, I’ve written a couple of guest posts for other bloggers, but I have yet to branch out to the larger community-style blog and online magazine world. This is next on the list for me, and I’ve got a few ideas and drafts going from the little bit of research I’ve done. I plan to start with submitting to internet publications as these can link back to my blog and can tend to be more welcoming to the writer who’s building the portfolio.

When I visit a potential publishing space on the internet, I search for “submission guidelines” to check the staff’s policies on accepting articles (some like The High Calling have a writing staff and do not accept submissions) and to discern whether or not my style and subject might be a good fit.

Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to find a list of themes by season or month which helps me generate new ideas and gives me a deadline to work toward. Beyond letting the writer know which topics are appropriate for the particular site, submission guidelines may also detail the target audience, how the article should be structured, the preferred style and the required word count.

Whether writing a how-to article or a personal experience article, you will want to research the issue and then sit down to outline your thoughts. At this stage, you should begin by introducing the problem/need that this piece will address. Often, sharing a personal story as a lead-in will allow the reader to feel more connected with the issue. In the next several paragraphs, you will offer a solution, sharing specific details from your research. You will round out the piece with practical application, action points and resources for the reader.

After you have all of your ideas sketched out, you’ll draft your article. You’ll come back and revise to get the big ideas right. You’ll want to revise again to work on the phrasing. Then, you’ll edit the finer details, checking grammar and punctuation and cited sources. Finally, you’re ready to submit that article and put your own work out there, part of the banquet.

{What are some of your favorite online and offline periodicals and writers? Your assignment: Peruse those favorites and dig for information on submission guidelines. Work up an existing piece into a well-structured, polished article and submit in the next two weeks.}

This is Day 26 of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.

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