What Can You Write in Ten Minutes?

Saturday, April 24, 2010
There are some days when it feels like my writing time is divided into ten minutes segments. Ten minutes of writing then the washer buzzes. Ten minutes of writing then the UPS man is at the door. Ten minutes of writing then my stomach starts growling. Ten minutes of writing then the dog needs to be let out. After a few interruptions I’m ready to call it a day and head for the hammock. I needed a solution for days when I know there won’t be long chucks of uninterrupted writing time. And with three kids they are plenty of those!

Why not try writing magazine fillers?

Magazine fillers are short pieces ranging from 50 to 250 words that sometimes only take ten minutes to write. So they’re perfect for crazy days. Fillers are constantly in demand and life seems to provide an endless supply of ideas. The pay starts at $5 and if you make it to the ultimate market, Reader’s Digest, you can make up to $200.

You need three things to make filler writing a success:

1. Eavesdropping Abilities – Plenty of my fillers have been things I’ve overheard.

2. Tiny Tablet – Filler ideas are fleeting and often come to you as you’re standing in line at the grocery. Be ready!

3. List of Filler Markets – Create a current list of filler markets so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you need homes for your fillers.

There are several different types of fillers magazines are looking for:

Jokes – Chances are your kids, spouse or that funny guy who works in the cubicle down the hall will be an endless source.

Funny stories – Funny stories involving your kids are always a hit. Some niche markets also want funny stories with a slant: military, religious, professional, camping, etc.

Tips – Got any secret tips about parenting, running a household, traveling?

News items – Watch your local newspaper for unusual events, people, and crimes.

Misprints – Did the sign at your local church lose an “O” and read “Come on in and say HELL!”? Also snap a photo of funny misspellings and other mistakes—some markets will buy the photo.

Weird Trivia – Baseball season once inspired me to sell a filler about baseball superstitions. Filler markets are always looking for the little known and wacky facts.

Lists – Filler editors like short lists: “Three Things You Never Knew About Jellyfish”, “Four Ways to Use Lone Socks”, “Six Towns Names After Santa Claus”, etc.

Start looking around you with an eye for the helpful, funny, surprising, and just plain weird. It’s fun (and profitable)!


Margo Dill said...

Hi Jodi:
I love this post. I think fillers are awesome, and I teach my students in my children's writing course about fillers, too. Thanks for this list. I will definitely be sharing this blog post with them.


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