Decades of tear sheets of my printed stories and rejected manuscripts filled my filing cabinet to capacity, and I had to make decisions: what to keep, what to trash. At the first run-through I only trashed the stories without my byline. The second down-size eliminated uninteresting features.

The third was the “keep” file. These are perennials, the feature stories that are as fresh today as they were in the 1980s.

  • Domestic violence
  • Homelessness
  • Health care
  • Parenting and child care
  • Diversity
  • Retirement
  • People accomplishing feats and making lasting contributions

Where do you find perennials? Read newspapers and magazines.

I reduced my files to one expanding folder, a few unpublished short stories, one nonfiction manuscript and two full-length novel manuscripts. The filing cabinet was trashed as well, so these files found space in a closet. No more tear sheets. Everything is online now.



Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I’ve been a professional freelance writer for several years and specialize in writing feature stories. I have more than a 1,000 bylines to my credit and have written on countless topics from autism to zoology. My columns on fashion and the Internet appeared in a Chicago area newspaper in the 90s. “Brunswick Buzz,” the column in The Sun News, the Myrtle Beach, S.C. daily, ran for seven years then “Events on the North Strand” took over in October 2013, also in The Sun News.

  1. Cathy Jones says:

    Awesome, great advice.

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