Write In Season

Sunday, August 11, 2013
Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. Story ideas are fresh 'in season.'
You've probably read the advice that most writers live by: pitch an article at least six months ahead of time. And for the most part, that's good advice to live by.

But it also got me thinking.

Why do I need to think about Christmas in July when I can be thinking about Fourth of July or BBQ and picnics or my birthday (wait, it isn't a national holiday) in July?

And now that August is here, why can't I be thinking about back-to-school ideas and football games and...

You get the point.

If you don't, here it is: why not be gathering ideas when an event or holiday is 'in season'? The idea is fresh in your mind, waiting to be fleshed out. If you're organized, you've been snapping pictures and gathering additional research for the idea. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. Here's an example.

Where I live - and most likely, it's the same where you reside - summertime means small-town festivals and community celebrations. One major trend I've noticed at all of these events is food. Some offer local, home-grown fare. A lot incorporate a cooking contest - rib-fests seem to be extremely popular here in the Beef State - and they draw a lot of people from outside the community.

I've been accumulating a list of the best food contests and have marketable piece, along with photos, ready to submit to local and regional publications when it's time to submit summer story pitches.

Okay, need another example? We take a lot of family pictures during the holidays. I mean A LOT. Last January, I was working on an article procrastinating and flipping through the digital photo album of 100+ images. Inspiration struck! We have a large family; 57 if everyone is at the gathering, ranging in age from 2 to 80-something. Organizing the family photo session isn't easy! So, I assembled a list of 5 tips for organizing holiday family photos, including ideas for pictures that show more than rows of people in ugly Christmas sweaters.

Catching on? All right. One more idea. Back to school isn't a holiday, but it is an economic impact no matter where you live. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2011 (last year data is available), $7.7 million was spent at family clothing stores during August, the back-to-school boon. And that's just clothing! Don't forget about shoes and school supplies and computers.

While fashion may change, basic school supplies don't. Why not plan a back-to-school shopping trip and turn it into an article? I did! My pitch is different though. It's the b-2-s bonanza for teachers. That sets my article apart from others that may be pitched.

While it's generally true that a writer needs to pitch a story proposal in advance, it's never too early to generate story ideas.

Especially when a story is in season.

by LuAnn Schindler. To read more of LuAnn's work, visit her website. She'd like to thank her grandsons for always providing photo  and story material, as seen above. 


Crystal Otto said...

Good points LuAnn and I think your birthday should be a national holiday :)

Margo Dill said...

This is something that seems like it should be so simple, but I never even thought to do it. I love your examples, and how even when you were procrastinating, you found a story idea. Thank you for sharing with us! :)


Angela Mackintosh said...

Great ideas, LuAnn! It's also a good idea to write in season if you're pitching to an online publication because they tend to have a tighter publishing schedule.

Your grandsons are adorable! :)

Renee Roberson said...

This is great advice, LuAnn! If only I could be as organized as you . . . unfortunately I often jot down ideas and then find them "in-season" two years later.

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