Writing advice from 1937

On one of my visits to second-hand bookshops I picked up a copy of The Writer, from January 1937. There are some things which haven’t changed, but the technology definitely has!

The Writer: advice, adverts and news from 1937!One of the articles in the magazine is called “Write for Nothing”. It basically says that writing for no money will ensure that your work gets published and, therefore, noticed by more people. I have to say that I don’t go along with this advice unless there are really compelling reasons to give your talent away for nothing. However, what’s interesting to me is the fact that I read an almost identical article a short while ago in a modern writing magazine!

Another article is entitled “Reporting Short-Wave Programmes”. It begins,

“Free-lances who possess an efficient short-wave receiver, and the necessary patience, may try their hand at short-wave reporting.”

I used to listen to short-wave radio in my teens and early twenties, mainly for a laugh. (There were some very strange stations broadcasting!). I had no idea you could make money from it. Mind you, that was 30 years after this article was published, so maybe the demand had disappeared by then.

I think you can learn a lot from adverts or similar items in old magazines. Here’s one of the guidelines for The Literary Bureau, for readers “desiring advice and criticism on their work”:

“MSS should preferably be typed, but, if not, should be written in clear legible handwriting.”

Handwriting? Well all I can say is that it makes a refreshing change from the sort of guideline which specifies, “Size 12 font, double-spacing, one side only etc etc”. The only problem, in my case, would be that sometimes even I cannot read my writing.

What is interesting, though, is that probably most people would not have had a typewriter or, even if they did, would not be able to type. Even as late as the mid-80s, I had to pay someone to type up my MA thesis. I had a typewriter, but knew I would spend half the time applying correction fluid. Things are so much easier now.

Enough ruminating! I am now settling down with a cup of tea in order to read an article entitled “Cash from Calamities”. It could make me rich!