I love my columns. They give me steady paid work and remind me to keep going even when I want to quit. I get to pick my topic and run with it (so long as my editor approves).
Right now I have two columns that host very different content. The first is with LitReactor where I often run a Literary Birthday series and highlight authors who influenced me on the day they were born. The other is with Witch Way Magazine, a Pagan publication that dives into meditation, consciousness, and all things magic.
These outlets are the lifeblood of my career. I recently went on a podcast where I was asked, “How do you even get a column?”
That’s a great question, one that never even occurred to me because like everything else in my career I fell into an opportunity and ran with it. I can thank fate, luck, or my subconscious (probably all 3), but it really comes down to attentiveness.
Pay attention. Focus.
Don’t just scroll through social media or work to gain followers. Listen. Look for postings about open slots, submission calls, and jobs, there are everywhere.
Okay I do always have help. I surround myself with authors I trust and have a genius husband. He found a retweet from Chuck Palahniuk on twitter that was simply the editor of LitReactor asking for pitches to be sent in. “Pitch us your column idea.”
I had an idea and I sent in a pitch that afternoon. You can’t wait on these things.
Too many talented writers miss out on opportunity because they procrastinate. I am not that writer. I work to meet deadlines early. When someone asks for a pitch, I sit down and get to it.
It doesn’t matter how good you are if you wait until these publications have hundreds, if not thousands of submissions, you will be buried. Witch Way was a little more relaxed and much more recent. I’ve been writing for LitReactor for almost a year now. I just got on with Witch Way.
I submitted an article and they liked it, accepted it, and asked if I would like to be a regular contributor. That’s it.
Sometimes all you have to do is show an editor that you’re willing to work hard and do what needs to be done. (Well, and of course, find the right fit for your topics and style) There is no magical ring of fate or a mystical beanstalk one has to climb. Yes luck does have some factor. We cannot control everything in our careers, but opportunity DOES knock more than once if you keep pounding on doors and growing your skills.
Be active online. Be active offline. Write, read, go to workshops; watch videos on writing. Discuss structure and content with seasoned authors.
Then when you see an ad or post for a column, submissions, or even just an editing or slush reader position, jump on it as soon as possible. There is so much more to being a writer than just writing. Get used to that. Embrace the leg work and do it.
Writing for a living isn’t a fairy tale. It’s work. You have to seek it and prove your worth every day. Some pieces will meet success, others will flop, just work hard and don’t be ignored.