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Chapter 1 Ideas and basic information

(c) 2010, Mona Leeson Vanek
*NOTE: All the material in this course is for educational use only and may not be used for any other purpose and may not be published in any format due to the nature of releases I've secured from website owners.
Chapter one topics
  • Surf-Safety checklist
  • Media Awareness Network
  • Where do ideas come from?
  • Generating ideas
  • Using "Writer's Market"
  • More market directories
  • Salaries and statistics in media jobs
Access The World and Write Your Way To $$$, Chapter one and the accompanying Advice From The Pros articles offer a lot of basic information. Plan to return again and again as your writing career progresses. Please leave your comments, because I'll be checking them often. Maybe I'll learn from you how make these resources meet the needs of other writers!

Learning here is akin to attending college to get a degree. I suggest you plan on three hours to skim two or three chapters. Click into the websites, take a quick peek, and close out of them.

Don't be overwhelmed!
  • Relax. Explore at your leisure
  • Don't try to absorb too much at once
Tip: You may want to bookmark websites you feel will be helpful in meeting the goals you set for yourself. Later, as your hunger for knowledge expands, return and spend the amount of time you have available and be selective to continue advancing to your goals.
  • Pace the course to meet your needs!
  • Don't crowd yourself.
  • Take your time.
If you wish, create a computer file and store the posts where you'll easily be able to return, again and again to resources that interest you. Tip: You can easily find the chapters you need in the Archives.

Must Reads
Surf-Safety checklist is a must. You'll find a multitude of good advice at Community Learning Network, (Fast link to safe-surfing information, and
Media Awareness Network, provides Web literacy resources. Select your language to enter. *Be sure to read and adhere to the copyright citation at the bottom of the page.
Pages recommended for study include
  • Special Initiative; read WebAware.
  • Media News.
  • Media ownership, etc.
  • Learn things that affect where you may want to sell your writing.
Where do ideas come from?
Ideas surround you! The lifestyle you've chosen provides you with unique opportunities that you can write about for people who want to read about them.
  • List everything you've ever done
  • List every topic you know anything about
  • Jot down ideas about people you know who are doing things that interest you (or them).
  • Make contact with as wide a variety of people as you can.
Mridu Khullar, a graduated student of this course, is a writer you may come across more than once in your studies. When granting me permission to include her in my course she wrote, "I have a blog and a whole section dedicated to writers on my website as well."

Check out the resources Mridu so generously provides. Visit often at, Check out For Writers link, and don't miss her article, Why the Editor is Not the Enemy, online at The e-Writer's Place,

Generating ideas
Study Idea Calendar at GuestFinder,com, Use it as a resource to spark ideas., is also a fine resource to visit when you're writing an article for publication in a bonafide medium (on spec or assignment.)
*Do not contact the guests before a magazine has assigned your article.

Tip: Read what speakers speak about, where and how to find them, and get ideas for your own articles\speaking engagements here,

Clicking a speaker's name takes you to a site with a list of interview questions which can help you develop a framework for writing an article. (Ie: "The Right Friends Extend Your Life, The Wrong Ones Can Sabotage You," or what does your mind conjure when reading the following speaker's topics? You'll find plenty of variety such as,
"People caught having sex in the workplace."
"You CAN Be Happy At Work, Even If It's Just A Job"
"Simple, Fun Activities Parents can do with their Young Children to Prepare them for School"
"Brain function and medication"
"History and Collecting of Yo-Yos"
Writer's Market is published annually and it's a good selection for your bookshelf. When you're brainstorming for ideas, browse through a copy, new or old - it doesn't matter too much right now. What you're looking for are categories. You might also browse other market directories such as Working Press of the Nation, Religious Writer's Marketplace, Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory, etc. Most are available at the reference desk of libraries.

Start with an idea
  • Make a note of it, or a few pages of notes.
  • File it in a folder labeled, Idea Folder.
  • Beginning to Write -- The Process - For everyone who asks the question, How do I begin to become a writer? Athony Johnston shares, from starting point to finished writing project, his successful method, that he uses with a writing software program, Scrivener, It's not only a good outline of the process of writing, and for writers who chose to use a writing software program, it works with many others, not just with Scrivener.
  • Put it away and jot your next idea note on a separate paper.
  • File it in your Idea Folder.
  • Continue to jot down and file ideas as they come to you.
Tip: Use a titled contest/or categories for this assignment and double the use of your time.
Select one idea from your Idea Folder
  1. Brainstorm and topic spoke the idea. (*See Let One Idea = Endless Writing:
  2. Consult a Writer's Market, new or old - it doesn't matter much at this point.
  3. What you're looking for are categories.
You might also browse other market directories such as Working Press of the Nation, Religious Writer's Marketplace, Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory, etc. Most are available at the reference desk of libraries.

More market directories
Gebbie's, is well known as a big resource, but it's no longer free. The site brings an extensive alphabitized list of magazines. Typing any name from that old listing into will locate many magazines, some of which provide a wealth of information useful to writers, such as their demographics, circulation area, special interests, media kit, etc., plus their writer's guidelines.

However, since is no longer available from, I'm not sure how long that page will remain accessible. Search the magazines you're interested in now, and compile your own list of magazines and URLs.
The Write Market hosts a guidelines database,, The Internet Directory of Publications (SM) lets you search over 150,000 publications on hundreds of topics from small business to cardiology. Research publishers, order subscriptions, and purchase articles,

(The site may still be undergoing reconstruction when I post this, but use the tabs at the top and you'll find plenty of help, and don't skip About Us. Learn about publishers here,

If you type associations into the search, you'll get a list of books available. You can learn a good deal just by reading about a book; who the publisher is, who is associated with it, etc. Try the same thing by typing directories into the search.
  • Go exploring, and let your imagination have free play.
  • Read the Table Of Contents of all available directories.
From your brainstorming
  1. Make a list of the categories to target.
  2. List twenty (or more) potential markets for your idea.
Tip: See, Let One Idea = Endless Writing: As you topic spoke your idea, decide on theme, slant, style.
  • Make notes on all magazines that might be interested in your idea -- with the right slant and theme focus.
  • Obtain writers guidelines for each of those magazines (usually online, or available via brief e-mail request.)
  • Search out back issues, preferably the 12 most recent issues. Many magazines have archives online where you can study and learn from the articles they've published what topics interest the editor.
Starting Point is an excellent place to begin, The Directory brings a tremendous source with links to magazines to read. Also, type magazines guidelines into the search box, and then keep scrolling to the bottom of each subsequent page. Click the last number there to get SEVENTY FIVE pages of links to magazine guidelines.
Then --
  1. Review your idea notes.
  2. Make an outline.
  3. Write a draft.
  4. Polish it.
Draft a query letter, and offer to help the editor's readers enjoy learning about your topic. Make use of the publications style and jargon, and include tempting details that show the editor she'll be getting what her readers want.

Discover salaries and statistics in media jobs
Wait, and wait, and don't become impatient. Remember, continuing to write while waiting for query responses is what defines a professional from a wannabe writer!

Guidelines tell you that average response time to queries is anywhere from 3-6 months.
Compare and analyze the replies you receive to become familiar with what individual editors do or do not want. This is another important step that professional writers do not neglect.
You can discern a lot from a rejection.
  • Be sure to acknowledge a rejection that isn't just a form.
  • Reply with a brief thanks for the editor's consideration.
  • If you have another article idea worked up, use this opportunity to ask if your idea might interest the editor.
  • File query rejections in the folder you began for your idea.
  • Do any necessary research and interviews.
  • Access a library database from your desktop computer, and if possible print out a whole bibliography on whatever subject is required.
Begin drafting stories for editors who ask to see your article on speculation. Refer often to the magazine back issues to keep yourself on track.
  • Send your perfected manuscript to the editor who asked to see it.
  • When rejections arrive, immediately send the manuscript to the next editor on your list.
  • Repeat as necessary until you make a sale!
  1. Start an idea file
  2. Study markets and get writers guidelines
  3. Use, 1-8, Let One Idea = Endless Writing: and pick one story idea
  4. Find and target ten markets for your idea
  5. Write query letters
  6. Send requested articles
Advice From The Pros; the important course section where specialized insider tips and articles like those below are archived,

1-1, Daily Warmups,

1-2, Let Multi-Tasking = Efficient Writing,

1-3, Let Toggle = Efficient Writing,

1-4, Let Clip and Save = Efficient Writing,

1-5, Let Filing Methodically = Efficient Writing,

1-6, Let Retrieving Misplaced Data = Efficient Writing,

1-7, Let Right Mouse Button and\or Ctrl Key = Efficient Writing:

1-8, Let One Idea = Endless Writing:

Next: Chapter 2,

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