Everything I Needed to Know About Article Writing I Learned from My English Teacher
By now you probably understand how important writing for trade publications is to establishing credibility in the home business world.
On to the first hurdle: how do you get past that HUGE writers' block? How do you know what to write about, and how do you make it unique, informative and interesting?
Remember how you resisted writing those reports in school, insisting that you would never need to know how to do that in "real life"? Welcome to the real world of business writing.
Your English teacher gave you the bare bones: pick a topic, research, take notes, make lists and an outline, write a rough draft in your own words, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Don't forget introductory paragraphs, summaries, footnotes and bibliographies.
Thanks to the internet, you can use a search engine, copy and paste, cut and paste, type, cut and paste edit into infinity, include hyperlinks and add your resource box at the end.
But...you're still stuck on picking a topic. You feel as imaginative as a two by four. Start with your own home business, internet marketing, or entrepreneurial problems. Better yet, start with your journal. You don't keep one? Here, you can borrow some of my own entries: (better yet, each of these items is looking for a foster home)
Didn't want to get out of bed this morning.
Turned on the computer and would rather play a computer game than work.
The quiet is driving me crazy...music would help...now I want to dance...now that I'm up, I could vacuum....wonder what's on tv...
The noise is driving me crazy, I can't concentrate.
Ok, I finally got started. Ten hours later, I just can't stop. I wonder why my wife is glaring at me.
I can't finish anything--the next new project always looks more interesting.
Friends call and want to chat, the cats want fed, that window needs fixing.
How do I know when to be persistent and when to try something else?
My website has lots of visitors, many don't stay for more than 30 seconds, few sign up.
I'd rather be __________ (fill in the blank): sleeping, golfing, fishing, watching tv, eating, reading, swimming.
Now let's turn that list into a list of how-to's. I need to learn how to: get enough sleep; stay focused; identify goals, strategies and action plans; develop credibility among friends and family; identify success (measurable results?); make my website more sticky; encourage prospects to become active affiliates; balance work and pleasure; plan my day; stay motivated... and so on.
First I brainstorm: when have I been able to accomplish any of these things? (take notes) Then it's off to the search engines. (take notes; bookmarking and copy and paste makes this easy) Now organize your notes: whatever floats your boat, whether it be lists, outlines, mind mapping or freeform writing.
Just keep searching, taking notes and bookmarking until something hits you over the head. "This really might work, especially if you did this first and then tried this..." Be patient, it may take a little time.
Don't copy word for word what another writer has already written; but on the other hand, don't worry about inventing the lightbulb either. If you've done much surfing at all, you realize that the internet is HUGE, a veritable wasteland.
The chances of two people reading exactly the same articles or websites and coming to exactly the same conclusions are slim. Any bleary-eyed surfer will THANK you for your arduous research.
And don't rule out your own experiences and thoughts. I once was dealing with a problem and was becoming more frustrated and angry by the minute. I finally just dropped it and went for a walk. (You can substitute any of those things, such as fishing, that you used to fill in the blank above).
While walking I was thinking about another situation in my life, was looking at the part of the natural world I was walking through, and came to a brilliant conclusion. As soon as it occurred to me, I saw that the solution also applied to the problem I was trying to solve earlier. So you see, sometimes it's good to just follow your instinct and GO FISHING.
I'll write that all up into an article some day soon. It's on my list. Meanwhile, I've got a few more ideas I'm writing up first. Now I can't wait to get them all written into articles. So...there's my topics, my motivation, and my action plan.
If you've followed these steps, thanks to your English teacher, the internet, your own experiences, and your stumbling attempts at writing, you're now an author. But more than that, you've learned:
- how to set yourself a goal: new affiliate signups;
- a strategy: making your name familiar or establishing yourself as an expert;
- and an action plan: write an article, submit it to dozens of websites, post it on your own website, maybe even add a few guest articles and start up a newsletter.
Then start over at the beginning...and don't forget how important it is to take time out for fishing.
Glenn Beach is a poet, writer and home business entrepreneur in Nova Scotia, Canada. Free newsletter, more articles, and business start-up info at: http://www.work-at-home-business-opportunity-canada.com
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