48 Minutes to a Magazine Article

This post is being brought to you in association with Sally Quilford’s 48th Birthday Celebrations on August 11th 2011.

Many of us whinge that we don’t have enough time to write. Home and work commitments are always getting in the way -I use this as an excuse for my lack of writing as much as anyone. So, here is a 7 day plan that involves writing for just 48 minutes per day and by the end of it you should have a short article all ready to go.

  • Day 1 – visit a large newsagent and spend 48 minutes finding your market. Look for a magazine that covers something you know at least little about (i.e. write what you know so that the research isn’t too onerous). Check out the list of staff in the front of the magazine and compare to the ‘by’ lines on each article in order to check how much is written in-house and much is freelance provided. Buy the magazine you think you could write something for. (N.B. In a perfect world you would buy 2 or 3 issues of the magazine over a number of weeks/months in order to get a feel for which articles are regular columns and which are the one-off freelance features that we are aiming at) .
  • Day 2 – make yourself a cup of coffee and sit down with a large sheet of paper. Set a timer for 48 minutes and then brainstorm! Dream up as many article ideas as possible for your chosen publication. For example, if you’ve chosen a dog magazine then your list could include ‘How to Choose a Dog Walker’, ’10 Tips for Taking Your Dog on Holiday’  or ‘Famous People and their Dogs’.
  • Day 3 – choose which of the articles shows the most promise and spend 48 minutes writing an outline. Include an introduction (not too long – get straight to the point of the article), each point that you want to make and a conclusion.
  • Day 4 – pitch the idea, via email, to the editor of the magazine. If you want some help on how to put together the perfect pitch have a look at Simon Whaley’s article here
  • Day 5 – start writing the article. If you don’t want to stop after 48 minutes that’s fine – keep going whilst the enthusiasm is high! Hopefully by now you’ll have stopped looking for displacement activities like cleaning out the kitchen cupboards. 
  • Day 6 – finish writing the article. Then find someone to read it aloud to – this will help you spot clumsy sentences, missing words, bad grammar etc. (this bit can be in addition to the 48 minutes since it can involve the rest of the family and therefore isn’t strictly ‘writing time’).
  • Day 7 – spend the last 48 minutes having a final read through the article and then, submit !

For the purposes of simplicity I have assumed that the above activities will take place on 7 consecutive days. In reality there will probably be a gap between days 4 and 5 whilst you wait for a response to your pitch (fill this gap by starting work on a second idea). It might also be wise to leave a gap between days 6 and 7 so that you can re-read the article with fresh eyes before sending it off. 

That just leaves me to wish Sally a ‘Happy 48th Birthday’ and thank her for the challenge to write a blog post based on ’48’.

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  1. #1 by gaelikaa on August 11, 2011 - 5:55 am

    Great post. I love reading posts on writing. I joined in the birthday bash today, and my post’s just gone up. See you again!

  2. #2 by Quillers on August 11, 2011 - 6:28 am

    This is fantastic advice, and could easily apply to writing short stories as well. Great stuff, Sally!

  3. #3 by Helen Yendall on August 11, 2011 - 8:33 am

    Love it, Sally! Great idea and I’m already feeling inspired to have a go! Thanks Helen

  4. #4 by Tracy Fells on August 11, 2011 - 9:41 am

    Excellent article Sally – neat idea and still full of sensible tips. Unfortunately the last article I submitted to a magazine came whizzing back to me (in my neat SAE) within 48 hours! But will follow your tips and try again…

  5. #5 by Teresa Morgan on August 11, 2011 - 9:26 pm

    What a fab idea! I need to pull my finger out and start writing articles/short stories. Writing a novel and getting it published is my dream, but we all know how long that takes, so I need to do something to be the ‘bread and butter’. But currently, I’m not very focussed. I promise I will be once the kids are back at school!

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on August 12, 2011 - 6:39 am

      Thanks for all your comments. Tracy – better luck with your next article, rejections are always frustrating but better than no reply at all! Teresa – I agree, school holidays are not the best time for getting any writing done, but it will soon be September… Now I’m off to investigate some of the other blogs celebrating Sally’s 48th – and a happy birthday to Sally Q!

  6. #7 by Quillers on August 13, 2011 - 6:30 pm

    Sally, congratulations! You’ve won the signed copy of Sunlit Secrets. Can you send me a message with your address, using the form on my website please? (link on my blog).

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on August 13, 2011 - 6:50 pm

      Brilliant news – I look forward to reading it!

  7. #9 by Patsy Collins (@PatsyCollins) on August 13, 2011 - 9:43 pm

    You’re right – I often whinge about lack of time!

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on August 14, 2011 - 6:41 pm

      Patsy – wouldn’t it be great to have another hour in the day?

  8. #11 by Mel H on August 23, 2011 - 6:06 pm

    Sally this is a great idea and I am going to do it – will let you know how I get on – thank you 🙂

  9. #12 by How to do Everything and Be Happy on September 14, 2011 - 11:22 am

    Fantastic article. Getting started on something that seems like it’s going to be a huge mountain to climb is always hard but this article shows that actually there are some very simple steps to follow so it is within everyone’s reach.

    • #13 by Sally Jenkins on September 14, 2011 - 4:07 pm

      Thanks, Peter and best wishes with the books – I’m sure we’d all like to be able to do everything!

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