So you want to be a fantasy football writer? First off, you sir or ma’am are crazy! Second off, congrats! Third off, well, I’ll have to think of a third off later. Writing about fake football is fun. I don’t like to admit it so it looks like I’m working hard when I’m supposed to be washing the cat or dishes or walking the cat or dishes, but it’s a blast to write about this game. And if you are reading this, you probably love this game as much as I do and you may have thought about becoming a fantasy writer. It happens. So now that you’ve put at least 5 seconds of thought into it and have decided to quit your job and write about fantasy, let me give you a little insight into the glamorous world of a fake football scribe.
1. This is not a get rich quick scheme: You may look at me and think, that guy has it all! Fame, fortune, an awesome cat, and yes, I am quite the catch, but sans the fame and the fortune. Oh, and I didn’t get paid anything to do this for 3-4 years and I have to write for multiple sites and write a whole bunch to come close to making ends meet. So if you think you are going to make a career out of fantasy writing, and quickly, get ready for a rough ride. But it’s not all crap at the end of the rainbow. There are rewards for those who hone their craft and work their arses off, just don’t expect them early on.
2. Write until your hands are gnarled, malformed stumps: One of my real jobs has been as a writing teacher and really the only way to get better is to write early and often. Feedback helps of course, but the more you write the better you will get, it’s just that simple. Don’t look for praise to keep you going. You may find it, but criticism is much more helpful. Get a thick skin quickly and especially on your finger tips from the non-stop typing.
3. Get your work out there: You aren’t going to get paid much or at all, especially just starting off, you know this, but there are plenty of ways to get your work out there. If you are a control freak then you probably should just go ahead and start a blog and go crazy! WordPress usually looks more professional, but Blogger and Tumblr also work. And there are of course more platforms popping up every second. But if you just want to get your work out there quickly, and to an established audience, then there are plenty of sites looking for new and energetic voices. Contact a site you like and send them a sample of your work. Tell them they are awesome. See what happens.
4. Give up the ghost?: No! Well, if you want to, then sure. We get plenty of people who want to write for The Fake Football. Well, some people. And we’re always ready to give them a shot. I’ve found that if you are passionate enough about fake football to want to research, discuss, obsess over, write about and pretty much immerse yourself into, then that will usually show in your writing. But often that passion only lasts so long. Most of the time the new to fantasy writing writer just fades away. I don’t blame them one bit though. It is a lot of work with very little reward. You have to REALLY want to write about fantasy football! I mean really.
5. Read, learn and emulate: I know it seems like a waste of time to read when you could be writing, but you must! You need to read scouts, NFL analysts, other fantasy writers, NFL news, and anything you can get your grubby eyes on … and that is just to stay up on what is going on, you also need to read to learn how to write. When my students complained about being assigned to read a half page article littered with illustrations, I know those are the students who are going to have trouble writing. Reading is a wondrous thing, you get enjoyment, information, and a tutorial on how to write all in one neat little package.
What writers engage you? Enlighten you? Make you angry? How do they do that? Steal from them! Don’t steal ideas or analysis but steal style and voice until you find your own. It’s how all great writers went about it. And if you flunked out of 3rd grade English this will help you without having to ask some jerk for help. The best education in grammar, sentence structure and all that nerdy stuff is to read and copy people who have perfected it already.
6. Join the community: Networking is a word I thought I would never use in polite company, but it doesn’t have to be as vulgar as it sounds. I started “networking” without knowing I was doing it, and that’s how it needs to be done or you’ll come off as a giant douche nozzle. If you truly enjoy talking to others about fantasy football it will come naturally. If you just want to get people to read your articles, then don’t bother, because nobody besides Team Followback will follow you and they don’t read about fantasy football.
It’s hard to find a great fantasy writer that isn’t on Twitter. Getting on Twitter and following these guys and gals is a perfect way to pick their brains, and in the meantime, make connections that may help you in your quest to become a fantasy writer (watch out J.K.!) I go into more detail about how Twitter is great for fake footballers here, but I think it’s even better for fake football writers!
7. Enter our The Fake Football Writing Contest. If you are just starting out our contest is a great way to get the feel for actually writing in the real world. You get a prompt and a deadline and then will be judged. Pretty much like any job really.
8. Have fun!: Early on you are writing for free or a little extra spending money, so have a good time! You have to be yourself and if that means writing a bunch of rants about how John Kuhn ruined your marriage, then just go ahead and write it! You have to keep it exciting for yourself and even though football is an awesome game that we love, writing about it day after day can sometimes get a little monotonous unless you have fun! And if you are having fun, you are probably much more interesting to read.
So those are a few random thoughts I had about being a fantasy football writer. I’ve been doing it for about 10 years now and I’m still having a blast! If this post scared you away from wanting to write about fake football, well, you should be scared away. You can write the best fantasy football article ever written and nobody will know or care. Write 200 and then you’ll have something. This is a long process and takes perseverance. You can make a career out of it. I know people who have and I hope to be doing the same. They inspire me when I get down about writing, so if you want to try this thing out, I’m here to root you on! If you want it, go for it!