I really would like to see more people writing articles for variety arts magazines. As a way of encouraging you I will provide you with a little advice once in a while through this newsletter.
Writing for magazines requires advance planning. You have to look ahead on your calendar when deciding what to write about.
One reason is that it takes time to produce an issue of a magazine. White Tops, published by the Circus Fans Association of America, and Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association, both had an October 15 deadline for articles and ads for their December issues. The editors of both magazines do a wonderful job working with graphics and photos to produce visually appealing magazine. They are also working with authors to get the best possible text. All of that takes time. The December issues of those magazines will probably be in the mail before the end of November so readers will receive them in December. It can take three weeks for a magazine to be delivered because each distribution center and post office that handles it can delay it if there is a high volume of mail. Priority mail is handled before magazines.
That means the December issue of a magazine will arrive too late for readers to be able to apply the information to their Christmas performances. They may already be performing those shows before the magazine arrives. So if you want to write something about Christmas performances it is most helpful to the reader if it appears in the November issue. That backs up your deadline for submitting those articles to the middle of September.
That means that for me I will start a Christmas article during the month of August. The way I work is to write a rough draft to get my ideas down before I forget them. I may edit it again to improve the way it flows. Then I put it away for a while so that I can return later to take a fresh look at the article. You tend to see what you expect to see so in the initial editing process I think the article says what I meant it to say instead of what I actually wrote. When enough time has passed that I forget what I wrote I have a new perspective and often spot parts that need to be clarified. That is also when I spot grammatical errors.
Actually because I am a columnist, I have several articles in progress at once. When I come up with an idea for an article that I am not ready to write, I write that down before I forget what it is. Often that is just a brief outline. I have articles in the rough draft form that I will eventually edit. While the progress on those articles is paused I am polishing other articles that I will soon be submitting.
It took me a while to learn to schedule articles in advance. However, here is an easy way for you to do it. It is the method that I first began using. It may be too late to write a Halloween article for this year, but it isn't too early to write one for next year. As you experience this year's holiday performances, ask yourself, "What would be a good idea for an article? What new idea really worked well in my shows that others could also use? What problem did I solve?" Then write the article now while it is fresh, and file it away. Then next summer you will be ready to open your file, edit the article, and submit it in a timely fashion.