Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Articles First? (Part 1 of 5)

"Is it necessary to write articles first?" I often hear that question at writers conferences. Necessary isn't the word I'd use; I'd say it's wise to begin a writing career with writing articles (or short stories). No matter how well we write, none of us comes into publishing fully equipped. We need to master techniques and learn skills. Too many writers want to start with a book and become famous. They don't have enough experience to know how badly they write. That is, they haven't proven themselves.

I’ve discussed this with a number of book editors and a few agents. Without exception, they urge writers to learn the craft and usually add, "The best way to learn is to start with shorter pieces."

The first question an acquisitions book editor often asks a prospective new writer is this: "What have you published?"

If you answer, "Nothing," you've already given your material a negative impression. You can overcome it, of course, but it's better to be able to say, "I've published 12 print articles and had 10 stories in ezines."

Start by writing short pieces is good advice.


  1. This excellent piece of advice is one of the first things I learned at a writer's conference, Cec, and I took it to heart. I started small and just kept writing and submitting. 90 published articles later, I've signed with a literary agent and God willing, a book may be in my future.

    Sometimes one thing really does lead to another.

  2. I attended my first writer's conference 6 years ago with (cliche alert!) stars in my eyes and visions of book contracts dancing in my head. What I heard there was that my books weren't ready, but that I should hone my craft by writing articles and short stories. After short stories published in 20 anthologies and umpteen magazine articles later, my first devotional book will be released in October and two children's books will be published in 2011.
    Writing articles first may not be necessary, but it certainly is helpful!

  3. Love the advice! In addition to short stories and articles, I am also writing a daily devotional blog, Morning Glory, that has helped greatly with discipline and with finding my voice. If anyone wants to check it out, you can find it at http://morningglorylights.blogspot.com/

    Bless you, Cec,
    Nan Jones

  4. This is perfect advice! I started writing short things in my church's newsletter. From there, I started a blog. I used both of those to apply for a freelance spot with a local Christian newspaper. Then, I used the articles from that publication to apply with our community's main newspaper. Now I write for them frequently. I have learned SO much doing "journalistic" pieces.
    Again- awesome advice. :)

  5. This is wise advice, as always.

    I've been writing and publishing articles, devotionals, and columns for almost thirty years. I recently finished two book manuscripts, which my agent is striving to place. I don't believe I could have accomplished crafting the books if not for the plethora of articles and devos I've "practiced" on. Nor would I have had the confidence to shop for an agent without the publishing successes.

    You can throw together a snack in a minute, but it takes years to become a gourmet chef and prepare a meal that delights the palate. I'll take the longer training of the chef, please.

    Mostly, I want to hear Jesus say, "Well done."

  6. I am so encouraged as this is all i have right now. In reading this I am finding this is PERFECT for me.. at this time at this place!! WOW thank you!


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