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Write Outside the Lines
by Candice Livingston

Write outside the lines. What does this mean? It means writers should branch out and write about more than one topic. Just because you are a self-defined fitness writer does not mean you cannot write about anything except fitness. You have both the ability and the knowledge. You may not know all the information you may need to write about something else, but you have the skills to find it.

An important thing to realize is all writers are also people, and people typically have lives. The key to writing outside the lines is incorporating elements and events from those lives into writing. You may have been a business writer for the past ten years, but there is no written law saying you cannot write an article about your fishing trip to Alaska last summer. Just because you publish an article about entertainment in Alaska, you are not automatically a travel writer. People place labels on themselves: travel writer, fitness writer, children’s writer, mystery writer. The thing to remember is that first and foremost you are a writer.

Why should you write outside the lines? Three of the biggest reasons to take into consideration are: it may be easier to get published, it can mean more money, and it can make you a better writer.

More Markets = More Work = More Money. Many genres have many more writers than there is demand for work in that specialty. Other markets have more demand than writers. Look for those markets to query. Do not aim too high when jumping into a whole new arena. Look for markets that work with new writers or that have a large percentage of freelance material in their publication. Read, read, read their back issues to get an idea of the style, what has been done before, and especially to learn more about the subject. You also need to familiarize yourself with details of the new subject you are going to write about. Then, when a market accepts your idea, you are no longer just a "fitness writer" or a "business writer". Even better, you have a few more dollars in the bank.

You also now have another clip of previously published work to send to future markets. This will help both when pitching to markets in your original "specialty" and to publications in your new "specialty". In your original specialty, you will be able to break into markets that require experienced writers. A clip is proof of experience.

You may also be able to query another completely new area of interest because you can show clips from a variety of types of publications. A completely new market may be more likely to work with you although you have not published in their genre before if they see evidence that you are a versatile writer capable of writing on a variety of subjects and in different styles.

Bigger Markets, Bigger Checks. As a result of your new clip, you may also be able to earn more money because you can query the larger, higher paying markets in your new specialty. You now have previous publication experience in their subject, and there is also less competition in their market.

Money is important, but do not forget the other benefit of breaking into a new subject: you will become a better writer. This in turn can mean even more money because the better writer you become, the more likely your queries are to be accepted and your articles published.

Writing outside the lines will help you refine your research skills, a vital part of being a great writer, as you search for things you have not previously researched. This may make it easier to find information on a variety of topics when writing future articles. Your searches for information on a new subject may also lead to ideas for future articles in a variety of different markets.

Become an unspecific writer. Begin today breaking out of the mold you have created for yourself. Explore your creativity. It is the lifeline of being a writer. If you consider yourself a writer, creativity is there somewhere and is an important part of allowing your mind to turn down a new lane of ideas. Write outside of the lines you have subconsciously drawn for yourself!

© Copyright 2000, Candice Livingston

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