BRAINSTORM ~ OUTLINE ~ WRITE ~ REWRITE ~ TWEAK
This is a quick 5-step writing process that serves very well when writing articles for magazines. Articles of this nature take more preparation than simple blogging, which is often a jumble of thoughts jotted down during an insightful moment. Don't get us wrong, these can be brilliant in themselves, but to truly be considered magazine material, an article needs just a little bit more preparation.
STEP 1 – BRAINSTORM:
First, identify your subject, and where you will get information from. If you are taking facts from your own personal expertise, from life or professional experience, this will be easy. If you are writing about a subject that you are not very familiar with, you’ll need to identify sources for research that you can draw from.
STEP 2 – OUTLINE
Find a good type of outline that suits your particular style – there are several different kinds, and they are extremely helpful in keeping our focus on a specific idea or message we’d like to get across in our work. Choose the main ideas you would like to include, and then flesh them out with ideas to fill each section. The amount of serious thought you put into your writing will be reflected by exceptional quality. Preparation is key.
STEP 3 – WRITE
Once you have your subject, and have outlined what you will include in your article, it’s time to write a rough draft – also known as a ‘sloppy copy’. At this point, spelling errors, weak adjectives, and grammatical errors don’t matter - you just need to get your ideas out on screen or paper. Final corrections come with the rewrite.
STEP 4 – REWRITE
Here is where you become an editor of sorts. Be ruthless when it comes to unneeded words. Ask yourself if all parts of the article contribute to the whole, and cut anything that clearly does not fully serve the purpose of the piece. Say things clearly, with confidence and coherence. Your outline in STEP 2 has already done a lot of this work for you.
Although OM Times editors do proofread, the initial technical stuff is also important. Make sure spelling and grammar are correct. Realize that spell check doesn’t always do the whole job. Words with multiple spellings and meanings like their, there, and there, or two, to, and too may be spelled correctly, but may not be used in the correct context. Double-check words like this to be sure. Also check that the piece flows smoothly from one idea to the next – if there are areas where the wording is choppy, consider revising those sections.
STEP 5 – TWEAK
The last step is, perhaps, the hardest for most writers. The final piece should flow seamlessly, and be whole unto itself. If there are any remaining mistakes, they will be very easy to spot by this point. Give the article a final read, and make small adjustments as needed. Try to avoid changing things too much – it’s easy to get caught up in over-tweaking - which then turns this step into another rewrite.
If you are unsatisfied with your final article, you have the option of going back to one of the previous steps, and doing it over again. Remember that if you do this, the best way to finish is to repeat any following steps as well, to provide consistency.
Anyone can write a 5-minute article about a subject - it takes an artist to be thoughtful, honest, and informative in their writing. You owe this little bit of extra effort both to yourself, and to your readers!
In the next Training Blog, we'll address further Technical Issues - until then,
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