Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Easy Way to Write an Article

Dear Fellow Writer, 

Trying to write through a cat this morning - he seems to think that pacing in front of my keyboard is a good way to get my attention!

I think he's just trying to avoid the dog - whose wide slavering jaws are less than a few feet away!

Anyway, my new single Soul On Fire was released this week - it's now available on iTunes. Just imagine - you can now own a piece of me and put it in your pocket!

Here's my latest MUSIC publicity pic:
Rock Rob

The moody Rob Parnell rock and roll shot!

Keep writing!


The Easy Way to Write an Article


Rob Parnell
 
Feeling a bit foggy this morning - not quite sure what to write about. Perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to explain how to write an article if you're not feeling up to it.

People often email me to ask how to go about writing blogs and articles. It seems many people struggle with what to write about - and whether there's some trick to being able to write good articles quickly.

My best advice is to just do it.

Researching ideas for articles seems to get in the way, to be honest. And it can often make for dry and contrived sounding writing anyway.

Years ago I realized that article writing is not primarily about the subject matter - as any magazine editor will tell you. 

No, it's more to do with the attitude of the writer.

If you have a strong voice and a couple of opinions, your article will often be at least readable - which is generally the most important aspect of a piece that may grab a casual reader's interest.

Planning an article should be a fairly easy process - ideally a five point outline. 

Like this:

1 Opening gambit - a compelling fact/opinion/observation to pull the reader in

2. A proposition - an idea that you want to figuratively 'sell'

3. Discussion of that proposition - which you might further break down into around two or three 'bits'

4. Proof that your proposition is valid

5. The implications of your premise - and a witty/profound/startling last section to finish off.

You can apply this simple template to pretty much any subject matter - and once you've written a dozen or so articles, it can become automatic: you won't have to think about this structure when it's entrenched into your psyche.

For instance, if you wanted to write an article about cats, you might make a template that read like this:

1. The ancient Egyptians thought cats were gods

2. We don't train cats - they train their owners (the proposition)

3. Examples of typical cat behavior

4. Examples of your own cat's will and power over you

5. Cats understand that keeping you healthy and happy is part of their role in your relationship.

You can then use this template as a starting point.

My feeling is that you should then free write anything that comes into your head without too much conscious thought.

How is this done effectively?

Before you start writing, close your eyes and breathe slowly for three or four minutes; try to clear your mind.

Then call upon your subconscious to help you write the first thing that comes into your head - and to continue doing that for around half an hour until you've reached the end of the article.

Then open your eyes and start writing. Quickly if you can - at least as fast as your thought process.

Stop when you've run out of things to say (about the article's subject matter!)

A magazine article may be anything up to 5000 words. Follow the guidelines stipulated by your magazine/ezine editor.

But how long should a web article be?

For blogs you only need between 500 and a thousand words - sometimes as little as 250 words, so the writing process shouldn't be at all taxing.

If it is, you're probably not doing it right - and the writing will sound forced and contrived.

For the same reason you shouldn't work slavishly to notes. There's nothing worse than reading a dry rendering of facts.

The most important aspect of article writing is making a connection with your reader. You do this by imagining at all times what it's going to be like to read your words.

Will it be fun? Entertaining? Interesting? 

Will there be a sound logic that flows from one point to another?

Is there too much information?

There's a flow to writing that goes in cycles. Are you making the right points at the right time in your article?

Sometimes you won't know until you get feedback.

I'm often amazed on what people pick up from my articles. They'll focus on something I said at a particular point - something I considered trivial - but then miss what I thought was a crucial point.

Usually because of this cyclical nature - the rhythm of the prose - has led the reader to feel more empathy for a 'point' on the upswing of the cycle and less for a point made during a trough.

All fascinating stuff.

But really the trick to writing articles is to develop an authoritative voice. This comes with experience.

The best part is that once you have the voice, you can write about pretty much anything and still sound like an expert. And if you're ever worried about your facts or opinions, then say so boldly in the article.

And if your article's premise and its propositions rely on actual facts, then check them before you send the article off to print - or post it to your blog.

I tend not to check facts before I write an article - because that would interrupt the writing process - but I always check facts after the article is written.

Luckily I have the kind of mind that remembers the thrust of facts, even if I don't always remember them specifically. I'm often amazed at what my mind has remembered!

As far as inspiration for articles is concerned, it's best just to train yourself to think.

Thinking about what you experience - and trying to make sense of things and people and events - and how they interconnect - is all you really need to do to get ideas for articles.

It's really no more difficult than that.

And the more articles you write, the easier this process becomes.

In fact, if you think that writing articles is hard - it only means you're over-thinking the process!

Trust yourself. Trust your mind to always have something to say in writing - and then write the first thing that comes into your head.

It's often the best writing anyway (after you've edited it later of course!)

I hope this little article has helped you.

And yep, it took about half an hour of free writing based on all the principles outlined above!

Keep Writing!
 rob at home
THIS WEEK'S WRITER'S QUOTE:
"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward." Lewis Carroll
Post a Comment

The Easy Way to Write

Welcome to the official blog of the Easy Way to Write from Rob Parnell, updated weekly - sometimes more often!