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Old 11-18-2012, 11:25 PM   #1
Graywolf
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Advice requested for soldier author

Awesome forum you have here!

I'm hoping to get some advice. I've been looking around for a while to get ideas and I'm just stuck on which way would be the best to start. There's a lot of information just at this site. I'm hoping to get some help filtering out the fluff.

I'm looking to start freelance writing/blogging. I'm currently deployed to Afghanistan until next Spring. I'd like to start at night, writing to get my foot in the door at places and start to learn the ropes. Once I get back, I'll be going for my MBA. I'm hoping I can make enough money writing then to cover what the GI Bill doesn't.

My expertise lies in Intelligence (counterintelligence, source operations, analysis, investigations, interrogation, etc), survivalism (prepping it's sometimes called) as well as general military (I'm a prior-enlisted officer and joined back in the Cold War) and have a lot of unrelated background in electronics and some in sales.

Any suggestions as to where I should start? I was thinking maybe if I could find some places that take articles in something from above that I could send them a pitch for some articles. I've started looking for places but so far I've mostly found sites looking for articles on how to make money writing or mass collection points for freelance writing; nothing yet that fits what I know. I am also interested in writing sci-fi and fantasy fiction.

I'm considering putting up a website that is at least a landing page with a few example articles at first and then use it to showcase different published articles as they come. I've ordered Stephen King's 'On Writing' and 'The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency As a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less' from Amazon to read when the Internet is down.

I've found that I keep coming back to writing and have written a LOT of stuff at home but I need to start putting that desire to some financial use.

Any suggestions?
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:35 PM   #2
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About your last sentence...

If you are planning on writing to make quick money, reconsider.

But if you write because you truly love to tell stories or whatever, then take your time to learn both the trade and a bit about publishing and how it works.

With your background, there is an old adage in writing that should work for you, depending on what you write; Know what you write and write what you know...

Good luck with your writing journey and THANK YOU for your service to our country...
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:46 PM   #3
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Thank you for the advice, and the thanks.

Whenever my mind needs a break, I always get this itch. The only way to scratch it is to write. I've written poems, short stories, articles, started a novel, had a blog for a while, etc. When I get the urge to write, I bury myself into it. I love the creative outlet it provides and freelance writing would give me the flexibility to write as my schedule allows. I don't have a lot of time to write for the next few months but would welcome the escape.

I love writing and would like to follow the 'do what you love' advice. It would just be nice to be able to make a small living at it so I could afford to take the time to write, killing two birds with one pen.
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graywolf View Post
My expertise lies in Intelligence (counterintelligence, source operations, analysis, investigations, interrogation, etc), survivalism (prepping it's sometimes called) as well as general military (I'm a prior-enlisted officer and joined back in the Cold War) and have a lot of unrelated background in electronics and some in sales.

Any suggestions as to where I should start?
Your answer is in your question. Star with places that publish what you know.

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Old 11-22-2012, 12:47 AM   #5
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As Jeff said -- start with what you know. Do you read magazines now? Are there magazines that people around you read that you like? Where have you gotten your knowledge? Was it from reading something?
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:18 AM   #6
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Thank you, Graywolf, for serving our country! I'm a retired AF first sergeant and the first thing I thought of make sure you're legally secure in what you're wanting to write and writing a blog. I don't know what you want to write about, but with your expertise, I would recommend you take a pass through the legal office and Public Affairs and talk to them first, if you haven't already. You may get some information that may shift what you do or what you write (and publicize on your blog).

Disclaimer: It's been *ahem* many years since I retired and the rules (and being from a different branch of service) all may be different now from way back when.

That said, which gives you the most satisfaction? I'm afraid I can't give advice on how to make some money on articles or for approaching magazine as I've never done it.

I wish I had real information for you. No matter what, best wishes to you.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:56 PM   #7
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Seconding Snowstorm. If you're still in, you probably can't write anything military related unless it's for one of the official magazines. I remember when my first sergeant got fed up with the PX and an article in the newspaper, so he wrote an oped letter that was published. The only thing that kept him totally out of trouble was that he didn't identify himself as a soldier (name, no rank), though it was obvious from the letter than he was. A Marine more recently got into a lot of hot water for comments on Facebook. Then there's the soldier who was on the bin Laden mission, retired, and got out, then wrote a book on it. I can only imagine what's happening with him.

That being said, you may want to explore the magazines put out for DOD (sorry, I don't remember any names offhand, and the ones I know would be logistics-related). There's likely to be a number of them in your field.

You can also put the military spin on things. Like military discipline can be used as a basis for an article on writing or time management. Get the Writer's Market (which has an online version) to see what magazines are open to you.

But you can also take your experiences and reshape them for fiction. For example, a spy novel set during the Civil War.
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:25 AM   #8
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I'll look into the online Writer's market. That sounds like a good start. Maybe I can find the DoD mags.

As long as I'm not writing from the standpoint of my position, don't write disparagingly about those in command, and I don't divulge classified information, I can pretty much write what I want. I already checked with the PAO office about a non-fiction I've started concerning camouflaging your capabilities in an urban survival situation.

I wouldn't mind starting off with some things I know and writing articles for magazines and maybe even guest blogging but I don't think I'll do another blog. I did that once and it took up a LOT of my time.

I did start into a medieval espionage story. Got about 5-6000 words into it or so but haven't gone back to it yet. I started it as kind of a proof of concept thing. I've learned now that I do much better if I get the framework of the story figured out first and then break it down to manageable chunks that I write much better.

Writing fiction (sci-fi, fantasy) gives me more satisfaction but the non-fiction stuff is easier and most likely easier to sell. I started a sci-fi novel several years ago. Lost some of it now but I managed to find a 12,000wd start that brings me about 1/3 to halfway into the story but needs a lot of growth and setting work added to it. I haven't finished how I want it to end yet but I'm thinking about changing from completing a novel to an ebook or something. I'd like to take some time and finish that one sometime but I think I'm about 6mos-1yr from getting that done once I start.
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:08 AM   #9
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When I got out of the service I decided that I wanted to make a career as a writer. I was given an introduction to a successful writer who offered this advice on how to get started:

"Go somewhere and write for a year."

I was a bit disappointed in the Zen Master style of this advice but given that the guy was quite successful and also taught writing I figured, what-the-heck, why not?

I put in a full year and just about wore out a portable typewriter. During that time I found my "voice" as a writer, along with the self-discipline needed to eventually produce a long and very complex non-fiction bestseller.

If you need extra income as you write, find some mindless job that won't distract you too much from writing. I've seen too many cases where new writers chased money before developing a personal creative style that set them apart from the pack.
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Old 12-21-2012, 11:01 PM   #10
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I was in the same situation as you once, I took up writing in the military as well.

Start a blog first I would say. Write about what you know. You may even be able to pitch the articles you write.

Look for military based markets to pitch articles - the first magazine I ever wrote for was the Army Times. Try the military papers first.

Keep working on peoms and fiction too.

Best of all, you have an entire barracks worth of people to show your work to, to ask advice and opinions, and to read your work once published.

Best of luck, and thank you for your service!
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:57 AM   #11
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Hmm, interesting on OP.

You could try cross-genre the subject matter so it's fiction and in fantasy / sci-fi realms...
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