October 18, 2005

How To Get Into An Article Writing Mindset

Sometimes it's really difficult just to sit down 'cold' and write
an article. But procrastinating makes no difference, because when
you eventually return to it, that 'block' is still there. Here's
a few helpful tips ...

1. Remove your limits

Reduce your subject to a single core word and then brainstorm
around it. For example, if you're trying to write about "Study
Skills", expand your thinking to "School". Now jot down
everything that comes to mind when you think about School, and
when you run out of ideas start asking yourself open questions
around the subject and noting your answers.

Example: Assume you are wanting to write about "how to improve
your job prospects" Ask yourself ...

What did I do in my first job?
Why did I enjoy it/hate it?
When did I realize that it was time to change?

This will help you get back into the mindset of someone
struggling with job issues of all kinds and you'll start to get a
feel for their concerns and worries.

2. Restore your focus

Once you've started to understand the general feelings of your
readers, allow your mind to focus back on your original topic of
Study Skills. From your new perspective, what questions would you
ask? What would you want to know? Is this really a "Studying"
issue or is it more about Time Management or being able to work
without distractions or being paralyzed by the fear of not doing

3. Be your own audience

Write each question on a separate sheet of paper; don't stop
until you have at least ten and preferably more. Stay in the
mindset of your readers until you feel you've asked every major
question that concerns them.

4. Take a step back

Put your pile of question aside for a few hours, overnight if
possible. Don't consciously think about them; just go about your
day as usual. Give your subconscious time to process them without
any further prompting from you. If new questions come to mind jot
them down somewhere safe and then forget about them.

5. Get out your pen and write

When you're ready, sit down with your pages of questions and
simply start to answer them. Writing your answers by hand can
give you access to ideas that might be missed if you type them.
Don't edit yourself at this stage. Using Speech to Text software
or a digital recorder can also be helpful in bypassing the
internal editor.

Imagine someone sitting in front of you asking for advice and
just talk to them. Keep your tone natural and conversational and
stay with the question-and-answer format.

6. Edit lightly

Trust your first instincts. Proof-read and correct any obvious
errors, but don't do any major editing until your piece has had
time to "sit" for a while. Again, leaving it overnight will give
you a fresh perspective the next time you look at it, but even if
your deadline doesn't allow for that it's important to give
yourself a break from it.

When you're pushed for time, writing several articles at one
sitting can create enough change of focus to make you "forget"
the one you've just written.

7. Polish it up

Short articles are unlikely to need major editing if you've
written them as described here. They will flow easily and
naturally already and having each Q & A on a separate sheet makes
it easier to select only the ones you want. Your job now is to
put them in a reasonably logical sequence and make sure they're
understandable and that the reader is led smoothly from one
question and answer to the next.

8. Put a begining and ending on it

Write a brief introductory paragraph as a "teaser" for the main
article. Many article directories now put the first paragraph of
each piece into RSS feeds which are picked up by other websites,
so you'll want to make sure that your two or three major keywords
appear at least once in that first paragraph.

Write another short paragraph to summarize the major points of
the article and provide some ideas for the reader to explore the
subject further. Don't of course forget your own resource box
like mine below.

9. Submit it!

It does no good for anyone if you don't let others see it.

1 comment:

Videos by Professor Howdy said...

We work like a horse.
We eat like a pig.
We like to play chicken.
You can get someone's goat.
We can be as slippery as a snake.
We get dog tired.
We can be as quiet as a mouse.
We can be as quick as a cat.
Some of us are as strong as an ox.
People try to buffalo others.
Some are as ugly as a toad.
We can be as gentle as a lamb.
Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
Some of us drink like a fish.
We can be as proud as a peacock.
A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
You can get a frog in your throat.
We can be a lone wolf.
But I'm having a whale of a time!

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your encyclopedic/omniscient
Designer/Architect as well
as your revering audience.
As soon as we acknowledge
this Supreme Designer/Architect,
Who has erected the beauteous
fabric of the universe, our minds
must necessarily be ravished with
wonder at this infinate goodness,
wisdom and power.

Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
Dr. Howdy

P.S. One thing of which I am sure is
that the common culture of my youth
is gone for good. It was hollowed out
by the rise of ethnic "identity politics,"
then splintered beyond hope of repair
by the emergence of the web-based
technologies that so maximized and
facilitated cultural choice as to make
the broad-based offerings of the old
mass media look bland and unchallenging
by comparison."