Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Guest post by womagwriter Maggie Cobbett

My guest today is Maggie Cobbet. She's sharing her antidote to despair.


It’s very discouraging when a painstakingly crafted submission fails to hit the spot with editors.  My personal antidote for many years has been the writing of ‘fillers’.  Dashed off in minutes and sent on their way by email, they can be surprisingly lucrative. As well as mining my own store of opinions, jokes, anecdotes, household hints and family albums, I never leave home without a camera phone and notebook in my pocket. Snippets of conversation overheard on the bus, weird signs and advertisements, odd displays in shops etc. can all provide useful material.

 Examples of good markets for 'fillers' are cheap and cheerful magazines like That's Life and Chat and, more surprisingly, perhaps Reader's Digest. Requirements and email addresses change all the time, so make sure that you check these before you send off your gems. I spend hours each year browsing the newspaper and magazine shelves in search of new opportunities and also keep an eye open for in house magazines that reward contributions from customers.


I save a proportion of my 'filler' money each year to pay for my place at the Writers' Summer School, an August week I would recommend to any aspiring or seasoned wordsmith. Its programme of courses, workshops, talks, discussions and entertainment all contribute to what the old hands call 'the magic of Swanwick' and first timers are welcomed with open arms? (Two of those arms will be mine this year, as I'm helping to host a table for newcomers on the first evening as well as running a workshop later in the week.)

You can get Maggie's book, which gives more hints and tips on filler writing here.

10 comments:

Beatrice Charles said...

I used your book as inspiration earlier this year, Maggie, and am still reaping the rewards as occasional cheques arrive. Sadly as I submitted so many stories to such a variety of magazines I have missed seeing my contribution in print. But as I have the money I'm not unduly bothered!

Maggie Cobbett said...

Delighted to know that my advice has paid off for you, Beatrice.

Clair Humphries said...

Thanks for this, Maggie. I've been struggling to write short stories lately with a toddler and newborn taking up so much time (and energy!) Maybe fillers could be a way of easing myself back into a writing routine.

Maggie Cobbett said...

Good luck, Clair! I remember when I was in a similar position and just wanted to SLEEP! Cherish these days, though. My babies are men now, but I often think how good it would be to to turn the clock back, if only for a while.

lizy-expat-writer said...

MAggie's advice about fillers struck a chord with me - the number of times I've seen a Handy Hint and thought, 'Do they really pay money for that?'

Carolb said...

Very good advice, and although I've only been to the Writers Summer School once- many years ago, it is very good, with something for everyone.

Maria said...

The Writers Summer School is great fun! I've been a few times as a day guest, you learn lots, meet other writerly folk, and the lovely staff there, feed you to death!
I purchased Maggie's book last year, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in fillers.

Jan Baynham said...

A great post. Thank you, Maggie and Patsy. Great advice and I shall definitely be getting your book, Maggie. :-)

Maggie Cobbett said...

You should recoup your investment many times over, Jan. Good luck with it!

Patsy said...

Getting a few fillers accepted is what kept me writing before my first 'proper' acceptances. Knowing someone was prepaed to pay for something I'd written was very encouraging.