Skip to Content

Tips for writers 6


Other kinds of writing which can extend your writing and develop your writing skills

The sixth set of our pages of tips for writers

  1. Non-fiction articles for special interest magazines, local papers and other specialist media. There are lots of opportunities which you can search out. All these media are in constant need of material, so it’s worth thinking about what you know about and investigating the possibilities.
  2. Magazines and other media which publish true stories, anecdotes and slices of autobiography. Everyone has their own story to tell of something interesting which has happened to them. Try writing yours and then research to see where you might be able to place it, and be ready to tweak it before you do so it’s right for that audience.
  3. Articles about writing. Our site is not the only place which welcomes contributions from writers and this can be a useful way of promoting your book or even just limbering up with non-fiction writing. See Phyllis McDuff's My Say or Wendy Walker's My Say.
  4. Short stories for magazines, anthologies, competitions and short story websites. Although it’s still hard to get a collection of short stories published, individual stories are another matter. If you really see yourself as a fiction writer and can’t come up with the goods on non-fiction, then research the possibilities for short stories and get writing. Very short stories are currently in vogue and are working particularly well on the web. Online publishing may not be your eventual goal, but it’s a good way of getting started.
  5. Much the same applies to poetry, which is flourishing online. Try print and online poetry magazines and websites and, if you have your own website, put some of your poems up there. See our article on Getting your poetry published.
  6. Enter competitions. There are a vast and increasing number of competitions of all kinds, especially but not exclusively on the web, and it’s worth checking them out. We feature many of them in our Writing Opportunities series and our article on Entering competitions might help.
  7. Writing for the web. This represents a major opportunity, as websites are hungry for content of all kinds. They may not pay top dollar - or pay at all - but the key thing is to get started with having your writing publicly available. Joanne Phillips’ article shows you how to exploit this big opportunity by finding paid-for writing assignments.
  8. Reviewing books, music, restaurants, events, whatever you feel competent to write about, offers many opportunities. Offering comment online, for instance on Amazon, may mean you won’t get paid, but again this is a good way of limbering up for something more remunerative. Writing reviews is a skill you can develop like any other.
  9. If you have a favourite author, investigate the possibilities of writing fanfic through the author’s fan website, which you may find is a hive of activity and also a good place to meet up with other writers.
  10. Having your own website is obviously a good way to achieve all this and, even if it’s just a few pages or a blog, it is definitely a must-have for authors who want to make themselves visible on the web. Once you have this, all your writing should be represented there, but avoid putting up material that is too long – no-one likes to read on-screen.
  11. In summary, grab every opportunity to write which comes your way. Even if you see yourself as a novelist, writing non-fiction articles, short stories or even poetry is good practice. Extending your range is a really good way to improve your writing, as well as enabling you to start earning some money from it.

Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage.



Tips for Writers 1: Improving your writing
Tips for Writers 2: Learn on the job
Tips for Writers 3: New technology and the Internet
Tips for Writers 4: Self-publishing - is it for you?
Tips for Writers 5: Promoting your writing (and yourself)
Tips for Writers 6: Other kinds of writing
Tips for Writers 7: Keep up to date
Tips for Writers 8: Submission to publishers and agents