How do I become a motoring writer? - Andrew Noakes - Motoring Writer

You might fancy the idea of swanking about in other people's posh cars and reckon that motoring journalism is a good way to do that. But it's merely one part of the job, and you need to be ready and willing to develop skills in other, more important, areas if you're going to be a halfway decent motoring writer.

Can you write? Can you write entertaining, authoritative, accurate prose? Can you meet deadlines? They're all essential parts of the job.

If you can, then it's worth thinking about who you might be able to write for. If you're thinking of writing for magazines, study those magazines carefully. Find the list of contributors (known as the 'flannel panel') and work out who writes the features. Are they staffers, or does it look like the magazine has a lot of freelance contributors? Find a magazine that uses freelances, and write them something on spec - ensuring that it's the kind of article that magazine uses. If it's any good, they'll be in touch. If you hear nothing, move on to a different magazine.

And keep trying.

If you're under 23, you can enter the Sir William Lyons Award, run by the Guild of Motoring Writers. For more on that and more information about how to become a 'muttering rotter', see the Guild's website.

The Guild also supports the Automotive Journalism MA course at Coventry University, which I teach on. It's currently the only institution which offers a Masters degree in automotive journalism. That's another good way into the business - one which is increasingly recognised as a sign of a committed and capable motoring writer.

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