7 Deadly Writer’s Sins: #3

Let’s see, we covered procrastination and laziness– and believe me when I say I have been guilty of both. 

And I only say “have been” because I am not in this moment… guilty that is,  of either. 

Let’s move on, then, to the next barrier to successful article writing I think is worthy of discussion.

Sin #3:  Lack of organization.

How many articles have you read where you didn’t know the beginning from the end?  Or, where the article writer started out on one topic and ended up on another.    Here are some tips that I have found helpful:

Begin with a  rough draft composition.  It may be a page or two long.  Remember, you’re going to be editing, which normally means editing “out.”  I like to start with a five to ten point outline on what might be the most interesting and salient points of whatever topic I am covering.  

In my first draft, I will normally spew as much research detail as possible into the rough draft, realizing that I will be weeding out a large portion of it before it’s published.  

Once I’ve finished my rough draft, I let it sit at least overnight.  Then, in the next day or two, I take a highlighter and outline  the sentences in each header or outline section that are most important.  I review my headings, and make sure that they send a clear message on what the reader can expect to find in that section.   

Then, I prioritize the five to ten point outline, with its descriptive paragraphs following, and review them.   For the standard 500-word article, I will normally pick the top three to five points, and they will comprise the message.    

Then, I review the entire article, and make sure all the relevant supporting sentences are gathered with each outline point or headline.  Often, this review will result in finding many of the sentences from the deleted headlines are quite relevant on one of the remaining headings.  

Once all the “pruning” is done, and I’ve decided on the content, I move on to the next stage. That stage is the organization of the paragraphs by topical index to its subject, the most relevant first, followed by the next most relevant, until you are done.  Then it’s time for the rewrite. 

Once it’s rewritten, and I’m feeling pretty “satisfied,”, I like to have someone else review the  article for organization and clarity.  Does the structure flow easily and smoothly, so that the reader only needs to read it once to fully grasp the relevant content?  

If not, are there still sections that aren’t tied together properly?  Are the headings out of logical sequence?  If so, rewrite it. 

An article that is well organized will keep the reader’s attention.  If it’s an article of great interest to them, they will gain value in both time and effort.  Of course this means they will also look for more articles that you have written.

Organization is a gift, I have found, that if given to you by yourself, will give back… again and again.  And, when I can get myself to do it in other areas of my life, I also really like it. 

Take my spice rack, for example… alum to tumeric.  I have a lot of mixed spices, though, including several variations of Alpine Touch, Chinese spices, Italian herb mixes, etc., that I struggle with placement.  Any suggestions?

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