Jo Hedges completed the Magazine Journalism Course in June this year. Her future in journalism shows huge potential, with four of her articles already published.
Well done Jo!
What writing successes have you had since completing your course?
Since completing my writing course with SA Writers College, I’ve had three articles published by the adventure magazine Quad, Offroad and Adventure SA. One in January 2011, one in September 2011 and the third in the October 2011 issue. I ‘ve had an article “health and weight loss” published in Weigh-less magazine: April/May 2011. In June 2011, PnP travel Ideas (a quarterly magazine) approached me to write an editorial on Pet Travel. In August this year an animal welfare organization in Cape Town asked me write a short piece for their monthly newsletter. And although I concentrate mainly on magazine articles, my second writing love is short stories. I’ve submitted two personal stories to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series; I’m waiting for a response.
How does it feel to sell your first article?
I can still remember the heart-stopping moment when I received a reply to a query in which the editor said he’d take my article. I was still in the process of completing my course with the college when I’d already been paid for my first article.
What have you learned from actually working in the industry (as opposed to the theory of it)?
Working in the industry, I’ve learnt never to become blasé; there are many writers out there and my pitch needs to be the best I can deliver. I ‘ve also learnt to use my resilient nature to act as a buffer between my feelings and rejection mails.
What tip(s) would you give other aspirant journalists regarding finding ideas, starting out, research and writing?
As a writer, you’ll notice things going on around you. Make notes, take photos if you can, and as soon as you have a chance, write about it. In my case, we tour SA on our motorbike and I make notes about every interesting town, roadside stall or historical feature we pass through, stop at or visit. Back home I research the places and people on the Internet, flesh out my notes and start writing.
Be sure to study the magazine you intend to send a query to: the type of article it favours, (beauty, travel, health, topical issues) the readership community (age, gender) and the layout of the pieces (narrative style, question and answer and how-to articles with sidebars of information).
How did the writing course help your writing?
The Magazine Journalism Course with SA Writers College taught me to tighten my writing, meet deadlines and to be thorough in my research. I gained confidence to pitch each and every article I write to various magazines. I’ve also learnt that although I may receive many rejection letters, I need to keep on querying and submitting, querying and submitting, querying and submitting…
If I could give one valuable piece of advice to any aspirant journalists out there, it’s this: do the Magazine Journalism Course through SA Writers College. You will gain much more than a certificate at the end of the study period you’ll also be able to write ‘Freelance Journalist’ after your name.