articles from one subject
September 17, 2000
Gaining material for non-fiction
articles can be addictive and can actually stop you from being productive. It
is easy to keep searching for more and end up with so much that you don't know
where to begin your own article. You can get several articles from one subject.
Here are a few ideas to keep you on track.
Some of the best articles are full of information useful to the reader. Some of these writers, including me, have struggled to stop researching and start writing. It would be easy to say that you should stop when you have gained what you need. What if you discover something that could lead to another great article?
Before you begin to write you need an idea of your audience and their interests followed by some sort of plan of how to complete your task. If you have not been given a deadline then you should create one for yourself. You need to know the publication, how many words, and from what angle is required and what interests your audience the most. Writing about the uses of Aromatherapy oils could interest the readers of a gardening magazine if you show which flowers to start growing and explain the process of growing them. An article on the uses of oils would be better suited to an alternative health or general magazine. Research could lead to several ideas for several markets and with this in mind you can start creating your plan.
After you have thought of a subject draw a diagram with subheadings of possible articles. You need one folder for each subject with separators or a notebook with sub-headings for each section. Aromatherapy for example could have subheadings such as 'gardening,' 'health,' 'ritual' and 'craft.' The first could be for the information of which flowers are best and their growing techniques; health would be the usage of oils in massage; ritual could be how oils were used through history and the craft section for recipes of make-up and mixtures for oil burning. Your subheadings can be different to mine but most of the subjects that you want to write about have subheadings that are limited only by your creative mind.
Give yourself a deadline of about one-week for your research, a couple of hours to write the first draft, a couple of days rest and then a day or two to rewrite and edit. When the first deadline arrives stop searching and collate your information into your separate headings and write the first article after reading through the information carefully. Do not deviate from the one subject. Remember that a reader of a health magazine does not want to read how to grow the plant.
Creating your own deadline is an important aspect to a writing career. A deadline could be as little as an hour. Go through each of your deadlines in turn and stick to them religiously. You will never regret learning this self-discipline.
If you are including sidebars of snippets that could attract your reader, which can introduce other subheadings, write them on a separate piece of paper for the editor to decide to use. Include telephone numbers found of any professional working in the field of your chosen subject, a short telephone interview will help to clear up any questions that crop up. If you ask questions that cannot be answered easily then it is a safe bet that your readers will ask them too.
Always write more words than you need for the finished article. Editing your finished copy is heart rending but it must be done. If you read it through and find something that does not fit with the subheading then delete it. Delete repeated words and correct spelling and grammar. Write a short cover note and post to the relevant market with a stamped self-addressed envelope. Always keep a copy of your work.
Remember that editors need information. I have known editors to buy articles that do have mistakes and they will rewrite them if the information is good. If you want more pay and recognition as a good writer then do your own editing and watch your timing. Telephone and ask when to submit your Christmas article - some want it in by June!
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© Lynda Archard