Clips 'n Things

This week my family is moving some things around and one of the places I dreaded attacking was my clip file. Wait, I should call it my clip bin, like one of those storage bins people store knick-knacks or winter clothes, etc… I have a bin full of clips.

I’m not saying this to brag, because there are multiple copies of each piece. Largely because my husband hordes my work. He picks up at least five copies and only because I begged him to stop picking up 10.

To be honest I don’t go through them often enough. So in the midst of the moving and dragging I sat down and went through a couple…

Wow.

It’s pretty cool to see a cross-section of your work back-to-back. It is an eye-opener for your style of writing, choice of topics and how far you’ve grown as a writer. I looked at a couple of my very first pieces and cringe. Hard. O.M.G. It was IM speak worthy. I used the word ‘that’ to often, had some weird turns of phrases and of course, used lay and lie wrong.

Now some of the things the copy editor should have caught, but in this business, you can’t rely on the copy editor, your clip is your entry fee into the next gig, at least that’s how I look at it. This is especially important for new writers who don’t have a large body of work on which to hang their hat.

So, when you get a chance within the next month, try this exercise:

Look through your clips and ask yourself:

  • Which topics did I enjoy writing about the most? Did it come out in the piece?
  • Which topics do I write about most often?
  • How has my writing style changed?
  • What reoccurring themes or items do I need to work on i.e. transitions, ledes, closings, etc.?
  • What do I do well?
  • Which clips are all purpose – meaning you can submit them for almost any job?
  • Which clips are specialized to a certain field?

When you’re finished with that exercise, use your research to plot your next move in your writing career. Think of the next magazine you’ll query or the next blog you’ll start. Then come back and tell us about it. What did you learn?

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