|Five minutes ago you'd never heard of the Southeast Asian binturong,
but now you've agreed to write an article on its lifecycle and
habitat... all by the end of the day. Here's a plan to get you from a
blank sheet of paper to a well-written article.
1. Think It Through
don't have to be an expert to write intelligently on any subject, but
you do need enough knowledge to convince your reader that you know what
you're talking about. Spend some time thinking and researching before
you sit down to write. What's interesting, unique, important, or
exciting about the subject? Why would someone want to read about it?
Shift your imagination into high gear.
2. Write It Down
you have some ideas to work with, start writing. Let your imagination
run wild. Don't worry about proper sentence structure at this point --
just get your thoughts out in front of you and go with the flow. Ideas
are like potato chips... if you have one, you'll probably have lots
3. Fill It In
Go back through what you've written and
add more detail. Fill in the blanks. Connect the ideas. Build the
structure. This is where you establish your style and tone. Think about
who's going to read your work and choose words that make sense to the
people you're writing for. Junior high students don't use the same
vocabulary as research scientists.
4. Let It Rest
words aren't fitting together quite right, take a break. Clear your
mind and let go of any angst you're feeling about your writing. When
you start again, it will be easier to see what's working and what needs
5. Check It Out
When you've completed a rough
draft, read it through from beginning to end. Do you have a catchy
title and an engaging lead? Does the body hold the reader's interest?
Does it make sense? Don't rely on a spell-check program to catch your
errors. Print out a copy and read it out loud. Your ears can catch the
mistakes your eyes missed.
6. Clean It Up
Go back and fix
any spelling, punctuation or grammar errors you found. Use a
dictionary, thesaurus, and a style book to smooth the rough spots and
polish your words until they shine. Edit, read, and repeat as needed.
7. Pass It Around
someone else to read what you've written. You know your mother and your
best friend will think it's great, so try to get feedback from somebody
who doesn't already think you're perfect. Be open to suggestions and
willing to make changes, but ultimately you must be certain they are
your words and that they speak well for you.
Follow these steps and you'll find that good writing is both a destination and a journey you'll enjoy.
Foutz uses her expert writing and editing skills to help businesses and
professionals communicate clearly and effectively, improving their
image and their results. Visit the Write Mind Website at http://www.writemindonline.com to see what she can do for you.
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