Nov/Dec Freelancing for Newspapers Challenge: Writing Holiday Articles

Sue Fagalde LickBy Sue Fagalde Lick
The holidays will soon be here and writing holiday articles may be on your mind. For magazines, which have long lead times, it’s already too late to submit for this year, but there still may be time for you to approach daily or weekly newspapers. Every newspaper must come up with articles related to the holidays and it gets hard for editors to come up with new ideas year after year, so a freelancer who can offer something original is a great early present for Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or . . . Remember that everyone is not Christian. I once wrote a piece for Bay Area Parent detailing the traditions of three different ethnic groups. Other standard pieces include how to pick out a Christmas tree, how to find or make inexpensive gifts, and special foods and drinks for the holidays.

How-to pieces are popular. How many of us groan at the thought of all the extra tasks we face at this time of year? Anything that will make it easier is welcome by readers and by editors. But how-tos aren’t the only way to go. Profiles of people who do something special during the holidays, business trends, opinion pieces, holiday lore, reviews of seasonal books, recordings or performances, personal memories of holidays past, or histories of holiday traditions are all possibilities. New Year’s stories are welcome, too, because of all those staffers taking the holidays off.

Editors want something different from the standard fare. For example, with people so busy and postage up to 42 cents, do folks still send Christmas cards? Is an e-card sufficient? In this time of tight money, are people doing the holidays differently this year? How do families who live far apart, don’t get along or are divided by divorce deal with the challenges of their situations?

If you’ve got a holiday idea buzzing in your head, write that query and email it this week. If you don’t have an idea yet, put on your stocking cap and start brainstorming.

YOUR CHALLENGE THIS MONTH: Come up with three ideas for holiday season story that you have not already read. Pick the best one and send a query to the most appropriate market. Don’t forget all those specialized newspapers for kids, seniors, religious groups, dog lovers, etc. Can you smell the pine needles? Start typing.

You are welcome to share your results or discuss the challenge here, as well as at my Freelancing for Newspapers blog. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

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Sue Fagalde Lick, author of Freelancing for Newspapers, worked as a staff writer, photographer and editor for newspapers in California and Oregon for many years before moving into full-time freelancing. In addition to countless newspaper and magazine articles, she has published three books on Portuguese Americans. She has taught workshops at Oregon Coast Community College, online for Writing-world.com and for Willamette Writers and California Writers Club. She offers an online course on reviews as well as individual coaching. See her website and visit her blog.

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