The idea seems simple! Write anything you like and the way you like. Send it to a publication and expect it to get printed. When it does not get printed after months of repeated tries, the conclusion seems simple — the editors are not being good to you by not printing your stuff.
While you might have your own set of ideas, the reality is different. Each publication has its own set of standards. Some publications make them explicit and clearly pointed out to the potential contributors, while others make them implicit by constantly printing stuff that is very well-written. Though you might not like that and it may seem harsh to you, but there is no compromise on these standards.
Standards are set for the editors by the authorities. If they do not follow them, they are held accountable for any sub-standard stuff that they print. Moreover, they also have the responsibility to make things interesting and informative for the readers. In short, they cannot compromise on the standards and the high quality of the printed work that is constantly displayed in the stuff you see in the publication.
Getting results is often about changing the way you think. And if you want to see your writing in print, what you have to do is to know about and meet the standards of that particular publication. For this, you may need to improve the standard of your work so that your article/story is as good, if not better, than what you see printed in that publication. That is the best and, most probably, the only way to get your stuff printed.
If you cannot do that, then please stop reading. This article is not for those who just want to cry and complain all the time. Those who want to achieve their aim of getting their writings printed have already been told the bottom line. And if you are highly motivated, then that should be enough for you.
Still, if you want more guidance, then start by improving your written English. It is essential that you are able to write English that is correct in grammar and structure. Unless that happens, you have no chance of seeing your work in print. Your school’s English teacher and elders at home are your best guides in improving your written English.
The next step is to analyse the publication. Go through a number of its past issues and make mental notes about the kind and the type of the writings that are being printed in it. Analyse the writing style of each piece under each section and kind/type.
Now decide which section would be suitable for you to write for, according to your interest and abilities. Incorporate and follow the rules well in what you now write. Write on topics and areas that are similar to the ones that you see in print, but they should not be a repetition of what is already printed. This also means that you can do a different take on things or write from a different perspective than what has already been printed on that topic.
Another good way is to call up or write to the editors of the publications, asking them why your article was rejected and what exactly are they looking for in the writings they receive. This will be a very helpful way of getting direct guidelines and feedback from those who are going to be the ones to accept or reject your work.
And while you are talking to them, you can discuss a few ideas and topics you would be interested in writing about (it is best to do this homework before calling them and jotting down a few ideas). They may tell you which topics they like and which topics won’t work. This will save you the trouble of writing something that they don’t want to print and finding about it only at rejection.
A lot of writers also email the publications a few topics they want to write on, and a brief outline or points of what they would be writing and asking for feedback. If you do get a feedback from the busy editors, then things become very easy for you and chances of rejection are lower, unless you really can’t write well.
Do not be in a hurry to send your work once you have written it. Work on it for days and possibly weeks until you become convinced that it meets all the standards of the publication and there are no more errors to correct. Show it to your mentors to know if your conviction has grounds or not.
If you want to cut down on your waiting time to see your name in print, then send multiple articles simultaneously. This would ensure that at least one of them would get printed among all those that you believe are meeting the standards.
There are no shortcuts to the aforementioned guidelines. The bottom line is keep improving the quality of your writing, meeting the standards and never giving up. If you do that and keep sending your stuff, then one day, after months or years, you will see you writing in print.
It took me many painful years to see my writings in print. But once I knew what is required by writing for any publication, it was smooth sailing from there as I have kept following the editorial guidelines. Initially I did not know what I have told you in this article so I too faced a number of rejections.
If you follow all the advice that I have given, then you will get there sooner than I did. The answer to the question of ‘How soon?’ is directly dependent on the level of your efforts and the relevant quality of your work.
Published in Dawn, Young World, August 1st, 2020