Article Writing Tips

p0306091Since starting this blog I have received a number of comments about the writing process. Favourite issues raised are how to get the ideas for each article and how to get started. These are issues I have seen raised in many other situations over the years by novelist, playwrights, journalists and other exponents of the written word. We sometimes hear of writers suffering from “writer’s block” when the words simply won’t come. Sitting down at the desk and staring at a blank piece of paper or blank computer screen is a nightmare, especially if there is a deadline to meet.

The first thing I would say about my approach is that I try to avoid the above situation at all costs. When searching for a topic about which to write, I go and do the gardening, or go out for a walk. I might do the washing up or get out the vacuum cleaner. By doing these other everyday physical activities, none of which is mentally taxing, my mind is free to wander without the stress of that empty piece of paper or blank computer screen. The harder you stare at that paper or screen, the harder it gets, the more it just seems to stare back at you in defiance! The more exasperated you become, the more irritable you get, the more likely you are to kick the cat as it strolls passed.

After a while there is a lightbulb moment when an idea pops into my mind. Even then, however, I don’t dash to the computer. The idea is the first step, but there is still the matter of exactly what I am going to do with that idea. Just as a headline needs a sub-headline, so an idea needs specific ‘sub-ideas’; the direction the article will go and what particular points I will raise and discuss. Only when I have the idea and a clear direction to take it do I then go to the desk and begin to write.

Most people write at the computer these days which is so much easier than a pen and paper as you can so easily correct any errors or implement any rethinks. I would recommend that once you are at the computer, just go for it. Just start to type without worrying about spelling, good grammar, etc., just ‘speak-write’. Imagine you are talking to a friend. You can go back and improve the grammar, spelling, etc. later. Just get those ideas down on paper. I find that once I start to write, – things flow. My initial thoughts spark other thoughts and the article just falls into place. The old saying: “A job well planned is a job half done” is so true! Once I reach the point of sitting at the computer to type, I am confident that, within a very short space of time, I will have an article.

If your article is to go on the internet as part of your online business and you wish to draw lots of people to it, you will need to look at keywords by using a Keyword Search Tool, of which there are a number to be found online. It is particularly important to get a nice keyword-rich title if the article is to draw traffic. The experts tell us that we should not just have a short pithy title but give it a ‘tail’. By using the search tool you will be able to identify a suitable title which is likely to draw interested readers to your article. However, don’t overdo the keywords in the main body of the article. If you splatter the whole article with keywords the search engines will be offended, and you don’t want to offend the search engines! Just a few carefully chosen and relevant keywords will achieve your aim and keep the search engines happy. Don’t forget, you are writing to help or interest people not to satisfy the parameters of search engines.

The final step, before publishing, is to leave the article for a while (overnight is particularly good) before returning and reading it through with fresh eyes, as it were. If you are still happy with it then, it is ready to go. You may find the need to tweak something or spot a typo which had escaped scrutiny before. I find this very helpful unless a deadline demands that I fire it off immediately on completion.

That is an outline of how I go about my writing. Just to summarise my advice:

  1. Get your ideas away from the computer whilst doing other more mundane tasks which are physical rather than mentally taxing.
  2. Once you have got your idea think next about what direction you are going to take that idea within your article.
  3. Only then do you sit down at the computer, thus avoiding the business of staring at a blank screen and muttering to yourself.
  4. Speak-write as if talking to a friend; – you can go back and clean up the article later; -let the ideas flow.
  5. If producing an article to draw traffic, do your keyword research and incorporate just a small number of very relevant keywords into the text of your article.

So, my number one piece of advice is get your brain fully engaged before actually beginning to write. The cat will be eternally grateful!

Add Comment

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published.