Following a comment I received yesterday I decided to put out an advice blog about writing today.
Here’s the thing, I here the words “I have no experience” too often. Some of the best journalists I’ve met had little to no experience, I started with no experience. Every writer out there regardless of what they write started because someone liked something they wrote and gave them an opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong if you want a job as a journalist with a newspaper or magazine that accredited qualification is essential and invaluable if you work in news journalism it teaches you the legal framework what can and cannot be done as well as how the world and journalism works. But let’s take blog writing for instance every business has a blog these days it’s basically a conversation, the blog is a conversation you have with your public, your supporters much like this conversation I am having with you right now. Reviews contain certain elements but can be learned quite quickly by reading reviews by other journalists brings me to my number one tip.
1. Read as much as possible i.e if you want to write for a local community magazine read all their articles.
Before I wrote my first review I read every article Carl Marsh – Cardiff Times/Buzz Magazine had written to date, then I read articles from the two other journalists at Cardiff Times. (I tend to extremes, but you get the idea.).
2. Develop your own style, people are likely to remember you for the things you write. There’s no right or wrong here just be you. I was called “you wrote that “Hair” review” for months in Cardiff. (Hair the musical, I am rubbish at hairdressing.)
3. There are straightforward book that teach you the basis on writing reviews, features etc I will put recommendations at the end. At my very first interview for a job in a media office at Journal Publishing Plc in West Midlands, the manager interviewing me said “I give everyone a chance, but you never know who’s going to be good at this job” and it’s true, it stayed with me through the years and I adopted it as a sort of mantra in the end.
4. You will learn more from practical experience and colleagues, than you will from a book. Honestly I am starting to practice things now a colleague suggested a year ago. and I constantly and annoyingly picking Rob Turner’s (Reynard City) brain on stuff.
5. Write about what you know, start with something your confident with you may just fall in love with the theme.
6. It’s about trying, editors tend to be busy people and therefore are quite straightforward: they will let you know politely (hopefully) if they think its not for you. and if you’re lucky enough to work in a media office, remember not all media offices are the same, I can remember walking out on one media office declaring I would only write freelance from then onwards only to walk into another one 2 weeks later and love it.
Oh if you should write and love it and decide to do a qualification research the accreditations each section of journalism has there own body for accreditation.
Feature Writing for Journalists by Sharon Wheeler –
Available from amazon.co.uk £10.71
Writing for Journalists by Hicks Wynford , Sally Adams et al –
Available from amazon.co.uk £15.21
National Union of Journalists Code of Conduct available here: https://www.nuj.org.uk/about/nuj-code/ – I use this as a guideline its mainly common sense.
http://www.issu.com – read magazines for free.
You can read the Norwich Nights Magazine blog regularly.
The message of this is if you want to write just go for it.
P.S and just ask, have fun. The best journalists have a natural curiosity about everything around them.
Melissa Compton (Editor)