- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Easiest Way to Write an Article
"Decide right now to use your creative powers and learn how to become a writer. You can do it, there's no doubt about it!"— Peggy Teeters, author of How to Get Started in Writing
You have a great story to tell the whole world and yet, you find it so hard to write. Why?
Self-doubt is the biggest hindrance to creative writing. It is the poison that deters many of us from even trying. Yet, writing should be as natural as talking. If you can talk about it, you can write about it because both use words as a medium of expression.
Ask yourself why you have self-doubt. Is it because you feel an overwhelming sense of inadequacy? Is it because you had never excel in essay-writing, while in school? Forget about all that. I had never excelled in essay-writing in school, either. Now, ask yourself whether you can write to a friend, or record an incident in your own diary. If you can, it means you can write when you don't try to meet other people's expectations. Practice makes perfect. The more often you write, the better you become. It can't be the other way round, can it?
The next time you have something interesting to tell a friend, record the conversation, using either your cellphone or any other recording device such as a digital camera. After recording, try to transcribe the conversation. While it is true that the raw transcript would not be good enough for publication, you can easily make it publishable merely with some editing. It is only when you have NOTHING to edit that you don't have an article to publish, whether online such as in HubPages, or else in the newspapers or magazines.
Writing Is A Two-Stage Process
Truth is many of us, including myself previously, do not know that writing is a two-stage process. My teachers never taught me that. We write a sentence and immediately begin to evaluate whether that sentence is good or not... we check the grammar and make sure it is perfect before we go on to the next sentence. That is the surest way to kill your flow of thoughts. Is it any wonder, then, that it becomes so difficult to write?
Trying to write and to edit at the same time is like pressing the car accelerator and pressing the brake simultaneously (or alternately). I would be surprised if anyone can drive a car any distance with this method. And yet, many people seem to be doing this, when writing. (Of course, I am not referring to those who never bother to edit what they write.)
The Left Brain and the Right Brain
The human brain comprises 2 hemispheres:
- Right brain: The creative mind, or the seat of creativity. You can become more creative by using your right brain more often.
- Left brain: The critical or logical mind that evaluates and not only critiques, but also criticizes. Criticism is a double-edged sword: It either sends you to the greatest height of achievement or else it will send you to the deepest depth of despair. Which is which depends on your mental attitude.
When you begin to write, ALWAYS start by using your right brain... your creative mind and the seat of your creativity. Start writing continuously for half an hour or until your thoughts run out. Don't bother to correct your grammar or spelling mistakes at this time, so that your flow of thoughts is not interrupted. If you need to refer to some reference material, just make a remark and continue writing. You can fill in the missing parts later on.
Once you have finished writing your first draft and ONLY until then, should you begin to use your left brain, the critical or logical mind that evaluates, criticiques, and criticizes, "No, this is not good... the flow is not smooth. Let me rearrange this sentence." I cannot overemphasize enough that it is only AFTER you have the first draft of your article written out that you should begin to edit or improve your article.
If you feel tired after writing your first draft, just put it aside and continue the next day. If you do that, you may even be impressed with what you had written the day before and say to yourself, "How on earth could I have written that!" I know because I have experienced it many times. The time lag between writing the first draft and doing the editing offers you space and an opportunity to distance yourself from your writing, making you less critical and more objective. With your mind fresh after a break, you may even be able to improve your article further by elaborating on or rewriting certain parts, which you now feel, are either not clear, or were not well-written.
Once you have finished your first round of editing, you may want to publish it immediately or else leave it overnight for a second round of editing. Do not edit too many times, or else you will never publish your article!
The hardest part of writing is to publish your first article. Once you have done that, you will have a good idea of the A-Z of publishing an article, whether online or otherwise, and you are well on your way to publishing your second article. Don't spend too much time perfecting your first article. Spend your time, instead, on trying to do a better next article. That would keep you moving forward, instead of finding yourself stuck with one article.
What Should I Write About?
Just like you have a thousand and one things to talk about, you have a thousand and one things to write about! Many things can trigger an idea to write about, e.g. while watching television, or when your children ask you a question.
In her book, How to Get Started in Writing, Peggy Teeters advises beginners to write about their own personal experiences. Ask yourself what value you intend to offer to your readers for spending their time in reading your article. If you are telling a story of how you got cheated, say, you can end your article with an advice to readers on how to avoid being cheated if they are faced with a similar situation.
Have you read the newspaper or a magazine today? How about reading it again, this time with a cool, calculating eye toward articles and story ideas? Do you have a hobby? Write about it! Holidays can also provide interesting topics to write about. Other ideas for writing can stem from merely being a good listener. From now on, pay more attention to what your friends, colleagues, and relatives are saying. As you can see, the number of ideas that we can write about is limitless, limited only by our own power of imagination.
Some Preparation Work Will Make It Easier For You To Write
If you don't already have a complete story in your head but just a vague idea, it may help if you do some research online by reading 3-5 articles. Personally for me, Wikipedia is a must because most of its articles are packed with information. I then try to read 2-3 other articles. Do not keep reading, or you will never start writing.
Mind-mapping is a good method to plan your article. However, I have never mastered the technique and prefer to merely jot down a list of ideas or keywords that come to my mind, leaving some space to slot in related ideas close to each other. In a sense, you can say that this is essentially also a mind-map, albeit a rather crude one.
The 4W1H is another useful technique that you may want to use, if appropriate.
It helps you flesh out your story but not all stories, however, are amenable to this technique. Whatever preparatory work you do, just don't overdo it or you will never get started. Always remember that there is only one rule, i.e. there is no hard-and-fast rule in writing a good article.
If you are not a member of any writing website yet, sign up for HubPages now. It won't take you more than a minute or two to register. (HubPages is an Adsense revenue-sharing site where you get a share of their advertising income from your articles.) The first step to learning how to swim is to get into water and until you do that, you will never learn how to swim!