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
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.