Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Guest Post: Discovering Your Writing Specialty by Priscilla Y. Huff

My great-grandmother was not only a suffragette, marching for the women’s right to vote, but also a published poet. My mother was a published poet, too, in addition to writing humorous non-fiction pieces and essays. When I began to write, I tried poetry and it was horrible. Instead, I found that I liked people and what type of work they did and thus began a writing career featuring boot-strapped entrepreneurs, specifically women who are and still continue to lead men in starting new businesses every year. If you are unsure what type of writing you can do best, here are five suggestions to help you find your particular writing specialty:

1. Write about your passion. No, I am not referring to the romantic kind, unless you intend to write in that genre, (which, btw is very lucrative). Write about what interests you, what you absolutely love to do. Consider your hobbies and what you like to do in your free time such as travel, gardening, birding, hiking, scrapbooking, making money, and any other pursuits that you adore.

2. Write about your work. Your industry or profession, no matter what it is, has one or more publications related to it. Editors of trade journals, industry newsletters and web sites, welcome articles, papers, and books to assist managers and employees to improve their performances, learn about new innovations, and catch up on industry news.

3. Write about where you live. You may not feel where you live is exotic or unusual, but every place in the world has some history or some occurrence that was notable. When I asked questions about a wall mural in my local post office, I learned the artist was hired during the Great Depression, along with many others to paint murals in post offices, railroads, and other public buildings. My question led to a feature article in a regional magazine. Read your daily and regional papers. They often contain news that could easily be a current feature story of interest on a national or international level.

4. Write about your life. No, not necessarily to write an autobiography (unless you are famous or for your own family), but what is happening now to you or what you have “survived,” involving family members, cancer, shopping, causes, religion and more. Others who are going through what you have, will be interested how you tackled and coped with a particular problem.

5. Write about what you read. If you read cooking magazines, for example, or visit related web sites, or are a regular subscriber to other publications, you already know the audience(s) and can provide new insights through an article or book. If you read mysteries, fantasies, or other genres, see if you can come up with a new twist in a plot line or series. Editors love it when their writers are familiar with their readers’ interests.

These methods can be incorporated in both your nonfiction and fiction. In fiction, your characters will be interesting because you, the author, will have them perform work or leisure activities with which you have actual knowledge of what they experienced. Think John Grisham, Kathy Reichs, Nevada Barr and others who have intrigued millions of readers using the background of their professions to highlight their characters and stories. Read the writer’s/author’s guidelines of the publications or publishers of the books you like to read, and make a list of possible article/book ideas you might like to propose and then query those editors. The only way to find your ideal writing specialty is to start writing about what you know, and you are sure to uncover your ideal writing niche that was there all the time, just waiting to be discovered.

Suggested Resources (purchase in book stores or check for current copies in your public or college library):

*How-To Writing Publications: Writer’s Digest Magazine (www.writersdigest.com); The Writer (www.writermag.com).
*Writer’s Market Guides: Writer’s Market (www.writersmarket.com); Literary Market Place (www.literarymarketplace.com/)

1 comment:

  1. Great suggestions. I forwarded this article on to several friends.