Ninety years ago, in April 1927, a new publication hit the newsstands: The Countryman. Buy a copy of the April 2017 issue (out now) and you’ll find it comes with a facsimile copy of that first 1927 issue.
Inside this, there’s a request from the editor, which says:
“To writers who have not written before – we shall be disappointed if many of our contributions are not from men and women who have never written before, or have written very little. We care much more for communications from people who know what they are writing about and can’t write, than from people who can write and —
There must be very few of our readers who could not tell us one thing at least that is interesting or useful out of their personal or public experience of country life, who have at least one idea of their own. Then why not write down the experience or the idea for us? Quite simply, just as if you were writing a letter. If what you write needs any sort of literary tinkering, we shall do all that is needed. That is our business, because we have had a lifetime of experience of work, whereas other things than writing have been the business of your life.”
Evidence that, despite advances in magazine production techniques and the way submissions are made, what magazine editors need today is what they needed ninety years ago: people with ideas and experience to submit to them.
In some respects, not a lot has changed. Writers who generate ideas and can demonstrate from experience why they are the best people to write about that topic for an editor’s readers will find themselves in demand.
So if you get stuck for ideas, think back to this editor’s call to arms. He wasn’t putting out a request on Facebook for writers to get in touch with him. He was asking his new readership – the people out there in the real world who were doing something – to write in.
Don’t sit and stare at a blank page. Go out and do something. Even if it’s research on a topic that interests you. Everything you do is experience. Experience that others might find useful, or interesting. And that will give you something to write about.