My Writing Journey – International Short Story Competition – January 2017

  Write us a 1000-word story about your journey as a writer. Make it funny, quirky and/or inspirational. We will publish the best story in our quarterly newsletter and on our blog. Plus the winner receives $200 (R1000 or £100). Entry is free and entrants are welcome from all over the globe. Send your story to     Closing date: 12 pm 31 January 2017 Previous winners:    Full Circle by Natalie Swain - winner September 2016 The Hundredth Day by Do Hyun Kang - Winner July 2016 The Writing Lobe by Eileen

Four Vital Basics for a Writing Life – by Trish Nicholson

Books, blogs and courses offer valuable advice and guidance for writers, but to make the most of them, there are four fundamental aspects of the writing life we have to establish for ourselves.   1. Create a writing support network Putting words onto paper or the screen is something we do alone and it can be lonely. Not only that, inspiration comes not from staring at a blank space waiting for the muse, but from  engaging with life past and present, observing, recording,

5 Ways to deal with Writer’s Block – by Helen Brain

  You sit down to write, and the words just can’t come out. When they do they seem flat and empty. You fear you’ve lost your touch, and the more you panic the worse it gets. You’ve got writer’s block.   How Does Writer’s Block Feel? One well known writer describes it well: “When I wrote my first book, I had no expectations, nothing to compare my work to. If it bombed, it bombed. If it did ok I would just be grateful. But when

Eleven Ways to Draw in your Reader

  Here are 11 ways to draw your reader in and keep them hooked. Each one of these ways takes time to master, so do expect to do quite a bit of sculpting and playing with words until you get it perfect. Use strong, visual verbs to set the scene. Some writers suggest that your verbs should outnumber your adjectives in each paragraph. For example, note the verb usage in this opening by Bisantz Raymond as quoted in her piece “Give Your Writing

Magazine Journalism Course Success: Ansie van der Walt

Ansie van der Walt completed the Magazine Journalism Course at SA Writers College. Apart from working at her new job as assistant editor at an Australian publishing house, Ansie is the owner of the blog She's also the originator of the African Flower Chain Project, where she ‘planted’ 30 hand-made African flowers across South Africa and elicits inspiring letters from around the globe.  Ansie has turned writing and needlework, both hobbies and passions of hers, into a full-time career. 1. What writing successes have

Five ways to write scannable copy for the web

BY JAMEE TAYLOR We need to master the art of writing scannable copy if we want our posts to actually get read. Writing for the web compared with writing for traditional mediums like newspapers or magazines is almost like writing in another language. It requires the use of your whole brain in terms of the left analytical side as well as the right creative side working together. Or you could just follow these five tips and your readers will be happy, as

How to Avoid Depression as a Freelance Writer

BY LYNDSAY WILSON Freelance writing seems like a dream career to many: giving up the rat race to tap away at a laptop wearing your pyjamas seems ideal, to say the least. The thing is, freelance writing can be bad for your mental health. A global survey reported that freelancers are the least likely to feel that they are “thriving” in their jobs. The very same things that make conventional employment unappealing - irritating colleagues, pointless meetings and office politics - actually

MAGIC – by Thorne Busakwe

  I was five years old, hugging the floor of my mother’s little shack, gunshots ringing through the air. I was too young to understand the violence going on outside, but I felt the terror pouring from my mother like a physical thing. I sobbed when her arms shook around me, then wailed uncontrollably when I saw the tears in her own eyes. “Shush!” she whispered harshly. Her voice was filled with panic. It only made me cry harder. I didn’t really

Making Money as a Freelance Writer: Entirely Possible or No Easy Feat?

- BY SAMANTHA MOOLMAN I’d like to tell you about how easy it is to get paid for doing what you love. I’d like to tell you right now to quit your day job, throw caution to the wind and write, submit and be published. But I can’t. This past week I’ve been ‘let go’ by two publications who once provided me with a relatively steady income (not because they hate me, but because they’re currently lacking funds). I’ve been approached by two

Too late now for Christmas; aim for Mother’s Day!

  GINNY SWART explains how to sell your short stories to magazine fiction supplements. “Only five more shopping days to Christmas!” Does this sign raise the level of your Christmas anxiety? Like most of us, do you fit your Christmas shopping into the frantic week before December 25th? Fiction editors of magazines don’t have this problem. Long before your supermarket has hung the tinsel and switched on the electronic carols, magazine editors prepare for the festive season. When to submit your story Most of the

Writing Great Twitter Headlines

  There is an art to writing great Twitter headlines. I call them headlines, because that is really what they are. In twitterspeak they are tweets. Twitter - the microblogging platform - has become increasingly significant as a source of news and information. It is very different from other social media platforms like Facebook, which are, well … social. Twitter has become the premier platform for sharing content – in 140 characters, which means that you need to be really skilled to get

Marketing Yourself as a Writer: How To Make a Good Impression

  JUST as money doesn’t grow on trees, neither do work opportunities. Unless you’re lucky enough to already have an overflow of clients commissioning you for work, you’re going to have to put in the effort to market yourself. Also, there is no guarantee that your existing clients will be able to afford you indefinitely, which means that it is important to keep your feelers out for potential contacts at all times. The fact is, if you’re writing on a full-time basis you probably

Editors: you have to love them (but only when they accept) – by Ginny Swart

  Back in the dark ages, like ten years ago, most stories submitted to magazines travelled on paper, with a stamped, self addressed envelope included. These days most magazine editors are accepting e-mail submissions from local and overseas writers, which makes it a lot more efficient for everyone. Plus it gives us a glow of virtue knowing we have shrunk the size of our own global footprint (all that jet fuel saved, all those forests spared). But editors of women’s magazines are taking

Motivational quotes for writers

  For those days when you just want to give up, contemplate some comforting advice from great writers and artists ... It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly. ~ C. J. Cherryh If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor. ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write. ~ Somerset Maugham Get

Spotlight on author Alex Smith

Award-winning author Alex Smith teaches creative writing at UK Writers' College

Alex Smith’s most recent novel Devilskein & Dearlove is a YA Fantasy, described by the Sunday Times as “a magical tale not soon forgotten”. She is also the author of Algeria’s Way, Four Drunk Beauties, Agency Blue and Drinking from the Dragon’s Well. Her writing has been shortlisted for the SA PEN Literary Award, Short Sharp Stories Award and the Caine Prize for African writing, and has won a Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature and a Nielsens Booksellers’ Choice Award.  Alex tutors the Novel

Time Management for Journalists – Why Do We Procrastinate?

With social media and dozens of other wonderful distractions filtering in and out of our daily lives, is it any wonder that we find it so difficult to concentrate on our writing? MICHELLE J RENSBURG looks at why journalists so love to procrastinate.    Journalists - especially the freelance, work-from-home type, are often told to learn time-management skills. But before we can embrace time management rules, we may need to look at what is holding us back. Our greatest enemy could very well

Writing for the web: Stay balanced because your readers might not be.

BY JOHN SPEAK            The best books…are those that tell you what you already know.” George Orwell wrote these words in 1949, the days of ink on paper. He could have been writing about today. We have never had a wider range of news and information available to us. Free from having to print on paper, pundits from anywhere can be read everywhere on the globe. As the vast range of information available spreads to all corners of the web, proponents of

It Started With a Bang – by Marianne Saddington

  My writing journey leaped ahead when a truck smashed into my car at a traffic light, crumpling the back like a tin can. I was stuck at home for three months with a new border collie puppy and whiplash. Soon after the accident, I discovered a book that changed my life: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. After 12 weeks of working through her exercises, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I first started writing as a child, however.

Enter now: the 2014 NZ Writers’ College Short Story Competition

The fifth annual NZ Writers' College Short Story Competition is to acknowledge excellence in creative writing in the short story genre. The contest is open to any emerging writer residing in New Zealand or Australia, who has had fewer than four stories/articles published in any format (print or digital). PRIZES: First Prize: $1 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories Second Prize: $ 500.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories People's Choice Award $ 500.00 The top five winners will receive

Five Trends Reveal How Print Media Is Evolving in the Digital Age

BY FADY ZAKI Is there a future for newspapers? Can the magazine industry survive? Is print journalism dead? For two decades, these headlines have popped up in the news. It's true that with the ongoing digital tsunami, many newspapers and magazines will continue to decline in circulation and some have had to shut down, but predicting their total demise is an exaggeration that ignores many factors: the different markets they cater to, the demands of their target audiences, and, most importantly,

The 20 most important pointers to write better articles – by Nichola Meyer

  Never doubt that what may seem like an effortless read in a publication has taken hours and hours of conjuring, sculpting and editing. Here are 20 essential tips for better writing. Pointer 1: Choose your point of view (POV), and stick to it throughout your article. Point of view refers to the perspective of the narrator in the article. Who is “telling the story”? Is the story written from first person (I)? Third person (they/ him/ her)? Second Person (You)? A common mistake

Spotlight on Rosemary Hepözden

Rosemary Hepözden has three decades of editing, writing and teaching experience. She is the author of three nonfiction books, and has a fourth book due to be published by New Holland Publishers in June 2014. As an editor, she has worked as a freelancer and also in-house for book publishers in Canada and New Zealand. She also has 14 years’ experience in magazine publishing, as an editor, sub-editor, proofreader and staff writer for a range of consumer and trade titles. Rosemary

Skills Needed for Magazine Journalism: Why the Soft Ones Count – by Jane Schiever

  Many magazine journalists think that their ability to write well is what secures them their next job. But editors at big publishing houses tell a different story. They claim it’s the marriage of good human (soft) skills with technical skills that makes them commission one freelancer above another. Are you paying enough attention to your human skills to become a great writer? Here are five soft skills worth developing.   1.         Good Communication Skills Whether it’s chatting over a cup of tea, a

How changing technology is changing advertising: Six copywriting trends for the new year – by Mandy Speechly

Part Two In Part One Mandy explained how technology has changed the way advertisers work; in this article she looks at six trends that have had a direct impact on the copywriting industry. One of the most important rules is that great advertising is produced by showing a real and insightful understanding of the consumer. However, there is no single formula to reach and engage with this consumer, and the parameters are constantly changing. Here’s how…            Buying behaviour is changing Firstly, people

Publishing your novel: writing tips from Hamilton Wende

Only the Dead is South African born Hamilton Wende’s latest novel, released by Penguin Books in October 2012. What inspires this author and how did he tackle the task of hunting down a publisher? By Leoni Cohen-Velida Q: Your experience is extensive in freelance journalism and TV production. What sparked your passion for writing? A: English was my favourite subject at school but I started doing Building Science at Wits University.  It was only when I was about twenty did I realize I wanted to