I attended a mini writer’s conference at the local library in January. The conference was free and open to the public. It had a panel discussion followed by several half-hour seminars covering topics about how to get started with a writing career. All-in-all the conference lasted about 4 hours. It was a great ‘taste’ of what an actual writers workshop entails and would highly recommend attending one to someone who hasn’t been to a workshop before!
One of the panelists at the mini-conference was a published columnist named Cathy Shouse. I’d attended her half-hour seminar that morning illustrating different means of getting credentials when you’ve never been published. (Perfect for me and my complete lack of published experience!) She gave me some great advice about getting a start. From her experience she found that to get published you needed to already have been published. Her solution: small, local publications that will accept unsolicited articles/columns for little or no money. Getting a non-fiction article in print, even though I am a fiction writer, would give me something to put on a query letter, and starting out, that meant something.
I figured I had to start somewhere so, on her advice, I contacted a local paper (there were so many more locally distributed publications than I could have ever dreamed!) I pitched an idea via email about writing an article covering my son’s basketball league. Low and behold the guy accepted it. It was a super small publication (aka non-paying job) but I got my name and my words in print! One creditial down:)