Writing Articles for Publication on the InternetBy: R. Lee Serratt
Writing articles for publication on the internet seems to intimidate many people. It really isn't a hard to do as it might seem at first blush. I wish there was some magic wand that I could wave to dispel this confusion. Unfortunately there isn't. The best advice I can give is get over it and start writing.
I've been told that it doesn't matter so much how well you write as that you do the writing. I can testify to the validity of this. I like, many of you, was once fearful that my style wouldn't go over and that there was a good chance that I would end up looking like a fool.
The interesting thing is that once I sat down and started writing I discovered that I did in fact have something worth saying and that I had a way of saying it that works well. I found my voice so to speak.
Once you start writing you will discover your voice as well. I promise. You also have something to say that other people want to hear about.
To get started, I suggest that you first open a note pad and start a list of things you want to write about. These can be hobbies, things you've been interested in for some time, or things you know about from work.
You might feel that you don't know enough about something to write about it. This is a fallacy. If you've been interested enough in something so that it has risen to the level of a hobby, it is likely that you know more about it than 90% of other people. Also you are going to have a perspective on the subject that is different than anybody else. When it comes down to it, it is your perspective that people want to read about.
Another way to come up with ideas to write about is do a search on Google for your subject of interest. Start looking through the sites until you find an article which you know could be written better. Sit down and rewrite the article from your perspective.
Now I want to give you a word of caution here. Please do not copy other peoples work. One thing that you are going to find is that writing is work. There is no way of getting around it. Putting your name on other peoples work is just plain wrong. There are also the factors that, plagiarism is against the law, you can be fined and even be sent to jail for it. The whole idea here is to find your own voice.
If you've made a list of your own ideas, pick one and open another note pad.
On this new pad make a list of the things about your subject. Think of it like making an outline. Don't do any expository writing here; just list what you know about your subject in broad strokes. It doesn't have to be in any order or to comply with any other criteria. Here you are just getting your ideas out of your head to somewhere you can see them. You will be surprised what this little exercise will do to inflame your imagination.
Once you've got your list, you're ready to start writing. Again don't worry about writing in any order. Pick something from your list and write a couple of paragraphs about it. Don't do any editing or worry about spelling at this point. You'll do the editing later. Go through your list until you've got a couple of paragraphs on each part of your subject, save the files and close everything. Go get yourself a cup of coffee, you deserve it. Most of the hard work is finished.
If you do this exercise a couple of times a week you are going to have the basic notes necessary to write an entire book on your subject of interest in a very short period, but we'll get into writing a book at another time.
Ok, you're relaxed. Now it's time to reread what you've written. Up to this point I've suggested that you do your writing in a note pad. The reason for this is note pad has very little formatting ability and this is on purpose. If you concentrate on writing instead of formatting you will be able to let your ideas flow more freely.
Once you've gone through the process outlined above, you can open your word processor. This is where you can change the way you've said things, get the spelling right and put things in a natural progression. Only when you've done these do you get to the formatting. While making sure that everything follows a natural progression, making sure that things are spelled correctly and that the comas are in the right place, is an important part of the process these aren’t really the creative part of writing. (They do go to your credibility, so don't skip them!)
I've suggested that you do your first drafts in note pad or some other low level processor; I actually do this a little differently. Rather than using note pad to do my initial writing, I actually open my html editor and write there. For some reason I feel like I am being more productive doing it this way. Only after I get the first draft down do I open the word processor and go to work on finishing the article.
The idea here is to do what works for you. If you're happy writing on papyrus then by all means write on papyrus. The point is WRITE! A tool I use in the editing process is voice recognition software. Usually these programs are meant to enable a person to speak to their computer and have it transcribed to the word processor. I don't use it to write though. I like the process of typing. It's just slow enough that my thoughts can stay ahead of it.
Rather, I have the software read back to me, what I've written. Ok the voice is flat and only has a small amount of inflection but it does have just enough to make sure my punctuation puts it where I want it in the article. Try it you'll be surprised how much your writing will improve.
Something you want to keep in mind. People on the internet are looking for information and they don't want to go through allot of fluff to get to it. So focus your writing. Make your paragraphs no more than four sentences long if you can. A good length for an article for internet publication is between 750 and 1500 words. I find that I can usually make my point and get the info across in that amount of space. Any longer and you run the risk of losing the readers attention, any shorter and you run the risk of not giving the info that the reader is looking for.
If you follow these suggestions, it won't be long before you discover that not only do you have the ability to write, you will get to the point that if you don't write every day it will not be complete. There are a number of reasons to write. One that I've heard more than once is to find out what we think. It's an interesting idea that we can understand much more about what we think if we can see it written down. Often I find that what I think in my head is incomplete and writing it out, gives me the opportunity to fill in the blanks. I also often find that, when I am writing, things that I didn't know that I knew come out, so it is self-enlightening as well.
Writing is many things to many people. Art form, a way of communicating, a way of sharing our knowledge, most of all I think writing is a way of getting to know my self better.I wish you the best of luck and look forward to you sharing with me.
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