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Begin with a Blueprint: Tips for Writing an Article

Wednesday, January 16, 2019 9:00 AM

Expert Advice

Written by: Alex Blevins

Alex Blevins
Content Specialist

Before the pyramids in Egypt were built or the Colosseum in Rome was erected, these world-renowned structures had to be thoughtfully planned and designed. Similarly, authoring a well-written article takes preparation before execution. Think about it — before construction can begin, an architect must first create a blueprint. As an author, why would you begin writing without a plan to guide you?

Follow the Framework

Authors are always more effective conveying their point when they can present information in an organized, clear, and concise manner. Use the following five steps as framework to help you do precisely that.

  1. Write about what you know. Prior to choosing a topic to write about, think about your line of work and your areas of expertise — subject matter you are well-versed in and care about. The writing process will come more easily to you if you select or propose a topic in that arena. If you choose to write about something you have recently presented on or encounter on a day-to-day basis, then the knowledge is there — you just need to get it on paper.

  2. Know what’s expected of you. Different publications have different guidelines; details such as word count, subject matter, deadlines, and formatting may vary. Request a clear outline of what’s expected along with the editor’s contact information in case you need clarification down the road. The other item to consider is your audience. Is this publication generally read by doctors, practice administrators, technicians, or the general public? Catering your writing to the publication’s audience will enable you to convey your thoughts in a way readers can understand.

  3. Create an outline. This is the most important step in the entire writing process. Contemplate what you are writing about and break it down to its most fundamental concepts. Consider how these points relate to one another and use that to designate the order in which they are discussed. This will serve as the tangible framework for your article. When authors take the time to organize their core discussion topics in a way that makes sense, their writing will flow effortlessly from one point to the next.

  4. Start with the “meat.” Many authors find that the hardest part about writing is getting started. Oftentimes, it is easier to begin with the “meat” of the article — the core concepts you drafted in your outline — rather than come up with a catchy introduction. So, start there. Once you’ve gained momentum, you can go back and add an introduction and conclusion to tie everything together.

  5. Let it rest. When you stare at an article for too long, you lose your ability to be subjective. If you feel too entrenched or stuck on a singular thought while writing, take a break and come back to it later. In the writing and editing world, we like to refer to this as viewing something with “fresh eyes.” Looking at your article with fresh eyes will enable you to see your piece in a new light and might spark new ideas or solutions. Letting your article rest for a day or two before reviewing it for submission can also work wonders. It allows you to catch previously overlooked errors such as misspellings, incomplete sentences, and unclear descriptions, resulting in a more polished submission.

Remember, your article doesn’t need to be perfect when it’s submitted. Publications have editors to help tighten and refine it, but as the expert, you are responsible for writing the piece.   

Channel Your Inner Architect

While the thought of writing may be daunting for unseasoned authors, being featured in a respected industry publication will increase your professional visibility, further credential you as an expert, and enable you to reach a wider audience. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by taking on a medium you are unfamiliar with, channel your inner architect and use these tips as a blueprint to guide your writing process. Taking the time to follow proper framework will result in a well-constructed article that clearly articulates what you want to convey.

YOUR TURN: What writing tips do you have for new or aspiring authors? Please share with us in the comment section below. Thank you.

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