Write fillers for fun and profit
Published: March 23, 2001
|Sometimes, writing short pieces is the best way to get into print|
You've always been fascinated by words. You scribble them on the backs of envelopes and shopping lists. You jot down snatches of thought while traveling to London or New York or on a tour of the Smithsonian. You stash away intriguing facts on all kinds of subjects in the ragbag of your mind. You know that someday you'll become a writer. So why wait?
If you're hesitating, you're about to admit that you simply don't know how or where to begin. Should you try the fiction field first? Should you send off those children's stories to a juvenile market? Should you sit at your computer and whip those travel notes into an article? Can a beginner break into print in one of the glossy magazines?
Writing fillers is an easy, practical way to get your first byline and boost your confidence.
What's a filler? There was a time when editors used fillers to end a column at the bottom of a page. Though still true to an extent, the filler has come into its own. Many writers concentrate on this field alone to make money. A filler can range from a phrase to a 500-word personal account. It might include puns, quips, epigrams, quotes, hints, facts, footnotes to history, light verse, recipes, jokes, puzzles, tongue twisters or anecdotes.
To get started, jot down items and ideas in a small notebook. Cull intriguing tidbits and stories from newspapers and magazines, radio and television news programs, and conversations with friends and acquaintances.
Once you train yourself to take notes, you'll be surprised by all the material you find. Know someone responsible for a good deed in your neighborhood? Did your grandson recently make a shrewd observation? Did you ever have a narrow escape from death? All of these topics are grist for the filler mill. Here are a few examples of fillers:
• Spilling raw eggs on the kitchen floor makes a gooey mess, but cover them with salt for 20 minutes and you'll have no trouble sweeping up.
• I finally got it all together—and now I don't know where I put it.
• Cleopatra was a whiz at backgammon, which was popular in ancient Greece and Rome and dates as far back as 3000 B.C.
• A billion other galaxies whirl around in space with potentially millions of planets that contain life.
When you have written some fillers and are ready to send them to an editor, remember that editors generally do not return them, so don't include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) unless the publication requests it. Do mark down the date of your mailing. If there is no response after 90 days, send another copy to another market. You'll find a number that pay from $25 to $100 per item.
Do some groundwork by thumbing through some of your favorite magazines to see what types of short material they use. Many publications have a news section filled with short items. Contact the editors of those sections.
Writing fillers is fun and can be profitable. It's a good way to get started in a writing career, or to help support yourself while you're working on your next poetry collection or novel. #