Everyone needs to start somewhere, so consider developing your writing skills by writing on an amateur basis. This could help you to demonstrate your interests and specialisms to potential publishers/agents, not to mention showing them that you have plenty of enthusiasm and motivation.
Write for a student newspaper or magazine
Most universities - and some colleges and schools - have a newspaper or magazine which is written and produced by students for students. Visit your Students’ Association, log on to your Students’ Association website if they have one or talk to your teacher if you are still at school. Find out when the next meeting is going on, or ask to speak to the editor directly about the kind of writing they are interested in.
Join the Young Scot ‘Hack Pack’ teams in your local area
If you’re under 18, you could find out about becoming a ‘Hack Pack reporter’ with your local Young Scot office. The Hack Pack is a team of young reporters who give up some of their time to research and write articles for their local Young Scot webpages. Each local office has a local section on the Young Scot portal.
You can find your local site by visiting the Young Scot website and selecting your local authority area from the drop-down menu. If you feel the site is lacking something (e.g. music reviews, local opinions) why not phone up your local Young Scot office to find out about getting involved?
Join a writing group
Visit your local library or bookshop and find out if they know of any local groups.
Look out for free magazines distributed locally
Free magazines are often distributed in outlets like music shops, pubs and cultural venues. Keep your eye open for these, as their editors may be willing to consider unsolicited articles and reviews if they fit in with the publication and have the ‘local-interest’ factor. If you live in the central belt, check out the website for ‘The Skinny’, a free magazine which prints listings, reviews and previews and is often looking for contributions.
You can submit news stories to The Metro as well (a national free paper distributed on public transport). If you have a newsworthy story that you think might interest British commuters, you can submit it via an online form at their website. Furthermore the free magazine "Short List" gives you the opportunity to comment articles or join webchats.
Post opinions on the Internet
It might not seem like the most glamorous kind of writing, but regularly posting opinions or reviews on general or specialist sites could help you develop your writing style. If you fancy book-reviewing, get some practice by looking up books you’ve read on Amazon and submitting reviews. Unlike other submissions, you can be fairly sure these will get posted!
Have a go at travel writing
Love your last holiday? Websites such as Trip Advisor allow you to submit reviews on hotels, attractions, restaurants or cities/towns.
Send in a review to BBC Blast
If you are 13 – 19, you can submit pieces of writing to BBC Blast. Although the focus is mainly on creative writing styles, quite a few short reviews are posted on the site from user submissions.
BBC Blast is a website run by the BBC dedicated to encouraging young people to get involved in art, dance, film, music and writing.
Start your own fanzine or pamphlet
By starting your own fanzine, you can write about the things that interest you most. You might be happy just to practice your writing and hand your fanzine out to a few friends, or you might decide to take on the full challenge of marketing and promoting your fanzine. This is one way to get started in a niche market, build up contacts and make a reputation for your self.
The challenge will be figuring out the best ways to reach the people who will be most interested in your publication. Traditional methods include standing outside gigs selling copies, or selling them to specialist music shops for distribution. Although a lot of home-made publications revolve around music, you can start a fanzine/pamphlet about anything!
Start your own website or blog
Put the world to rights and develop your writing style. This is a good way to practice writing for a specialist market. A blog is an online personal diary or website where you can tell everyone how you feel, keep everyone up-to-date with your life and share your thoughts and photos. If you have an interest (anything from extreme sports to photography), you could try to build up a reputation by posting links to your blog/website on related sites.
If you set up a blogspace/website with a guest book, you’ll have a great means of getting feedback on what you’re writing about. Find more information on blogging on the Young Scot Article about "blogging".