Breaking into outdoor writing

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14/01/2006 at 11:15
Hi folks, best wishes to all. I'm new to OM and thought this would be a good place to pick your brains. Whilst reading the current crop of outdoor mags each month I often think to myself "Blimey,I can write better than that" or "This guy hasn't got a clue". I would love to be a Tom Hutton, Jim Perrin (in my dreams), Jerry Rawson etc and I'd like some advice on how best to approach potential employers. I live in Peterborough and I'm fairly itching to contact Trail but want to get it right and not appear amateurish. I'd appreciate any feedback from those in the know. Diolch
14/01/2006 at 16:38
It might be worth getting yourself along to The Outdoors show at the NEC in March. Talk to the people on the TGO stand first, you will find them to be helpful and a bit less corporate in their approach.

Bad luck on living in Peterborough by the way <smiley wotsit>
14/01/2006 at 19:16
Nicholas, living in peterborough has its advantages then.

Seriously, what is stopping you from contacting Trail? What have you got to lose?

From my experience of journalists (an awful lot) they are usually very approachable and very helpful and usually keen to encourage others to get into the profession.

I don't know your age but (sorry if this is ageist) it helps if you are youngish and can offer something a little bit different.

Why not get in touch with the office manager (her number is in the front of the magazine) and ask if it would be possible to make an appointment with the editor. Go in and have a chat and perhaps ask to do some work experience or some unpaid writing for them. I'm sure if you are determined enough and have some writing ability you'll get where you want to go.

If you need some inspiration, I once gave some work experience to a sixth form kid who thought he could bbe a journalist. He ended up working for ITN. Not bad eh?

Go for it. You only get one life.
15/01/2006 at 00:42
As others have said talking to magazine editors and writers is a good start. There's no right way to do this. Just tell them you're interested.

Another point I'd make is that if you're really determined to do this then persevere. Keep trying even if you keep getting turned down. Writing for club and organisation magazines is a good idea too so you can build up a portfolio of work (these bodies don't pay and are usually keen on new writers).

I started in exactly the way you describe. Reading magazines and thinking "I can do better than that!". Now I'm sure people read my stuff and think the same.
15/01/2006 at 06:05
I've known lots of people who've thrown their mags across the room while saying "I can write better than that" - but very few of them take the next logical step - which is to get something down on paper and send it to the editor! If it's a brilliant piece and is specifically targeted at the right mag, then the editor should accept it. By all means talk to them, but at the end of the day they'll only be interested if you can actually deliver the goods - in the right format and on time.
15/01/2006 at 11:28
Thanks very much chaps, that's exactly what I hoped to hear. As for living in Peterborough, well, we all have our challenges in life!
I write for my local MC mag and I'm always looking to find a different way of saying that which has been said many times deep love of the high and sometimes wild places has provided me with a wealth of special experiences. I very much feel the need to communicate this to others and hope to entice people away from their sofa's and TV's to reclaim their physicality and wander as I have in the throes of euphoria in a reality more real.
Oops, went a bit purple there for a minute!
Thanks again, your comments I find very incouraging. Paddy and Chris, I have some of your books in my collection and have enjoyed them enormously, keep up the good work.
15/01/2006 at 15:26
I'm not taking the mick but check your spelling's & grammer before you send anything off anywhere.

Good luck!
15/01/2006 at 22:10
fiar piont Maracus
16/01/2006 at 14:59
Edited: 16/01/2006 at 15:01
16/01/2006 at 15:27
Bear in mind that you're unlikely to become improbably rich working as an outdoor writer, unless your name is Jon Krakauer and you pen an international best seller about a disastrous season on Everest - and you're a bit late on that front...

Seriously though, there isn't a huge amount of money sloshing around on the UK outdoors journalism scene and unfortunately, Trail, for one, use very little freelance writing, blessed as they are with a staff of millions. I'm not trying to put you off by the way, it's just as well to be aware of the realities of the situation.

Then again, most of us do it because we love the outdoors anyway. Good luck. Oh, and fercissakes, mind the purple prose, it gets everywhere ;-)

OutdoorsMagic Reviews Editor | 

16/01/2006 at 16:55
Cheers Jon, I totally agree with everything you've said. I'm going to crack on though, I'll write regardless of publication prospects, always have!
For me it's all part of the game, you walk or you climb, you take photo's and back at home you write the day up. These winter nights fly by!
16/01/2006 at 20:06
Jon - your comments have put me off outdoor writing for life! I see where it's all leading now - a penniless existance, huddled in a tatty tent, wrapped in a threadbare sleeping bag, grubbing for mushrooms and hazelnuts in the wilds.

Ah well - I might as well get on with it. My bag is packed and I'm heading for a trek along the GR-131.
16/01/2006 at 20:55
I think the real challenge is to get on and write something!

I'm mulling over a challenge from John Manning to write something and submit it to TGO. I'm going to have a go I think. The worst he can say is "that's crap". It wouldn't be the first time I've had that said about my work!
16/01/2006 at 22:58
Andy, if he says that, I know where their office is.
16/01/2006 at 23:03
Just to throw something in. Out of recent TGOs, the stuff that I finish and think "more, more, gimme more!" is typified by Andrew Terrill's material -- superb.

Articles that say "...then we turned left through the gate and descended to the duckpond..." bore me very quickly. Stuff that inspires me through the author's own experience is what I crave. W H Murray's Mountaineering in Scotland is the very best example. Stuff that makes me want to get packing my rucksack right that minute.

If I want to know which direction to turn to get to the duckpond I can Google for help or get Trail or Country Walking... ;)

Aside: of more use [than magazine articles with route descriptions], I thought the other day, would be a website where folk could contribute useful notes and photos on paths, routes, etc -- like a walker's Wikipedia? Eg "when descending from the summit of .... to ... first head ... then after ... do..., not as shown on the OS 1:25,000, to avoid the 300ft cliff..."
Edited: 16/01/2006 at 23:04
17/01/2006 at 10:11
Aside: of more use [than magazine articles with route descriptions], I thought the other day, would be a website where folk could contribute useful notes and photos on paths, routes, etc -- like a walker's Wikipedia? Eg "when descending from the summit of .... to ... first head ... then after ... do..., not as shown on the OS 1:25,000, to avoid the 300ft cliff..."

Watch this space :-)

OutdoorsMagic Reviews Editor | 

17/01/2006 at 10:16
which space am I watching?
17/01/2006 at 10:17
The large one marked :-)

OutdoorsMagic Reviews Editor | 

17/01/2006 at 18:41
I've been looking out the window all day, now you tell me I've been looking in the wrong place!!
26/12/2009 at 14:36

Well, almost four years after I started this thread I have finally pulled my finger out and got something into print.


I thought it would be good to resurrect this thread because I have been keeping my eye on this…


I’d just like to say that although many are aghast at the idea I was very grateful to be given the chance to get in the magazine and will hopefully use it as a springboard to other things in the near future. My piece will be appearing in the February issue which is due out any day.


Thanks to the original posters for your advice and if anyone is interested here is the blog that got things started for me.


I hope you all have a wonderful new year and enjoy plenty of great days in the hills.





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