Writing can relax your mind. But you have no idea how to start its beginning? Here we give you some tips!
STEP 1: SELECT YOUR TOPIC.
Choose a topic that interests you enough to focus on it for at least a week or two. If your topic is broad, narrow it. Instead of writing about how to decorate your home, try covering how to decorate your home in country style on a shoestring budget. That’s more specific and, as such, easier to tackle.
STEP 2: ADDRESS YOUR AUDIENCE’S NEEDS.
Now, come back to your piece. Switch gears and imagine you’re the reader of this article. Pick three words to describe the audience you want to address (e.g., professionals, single men). As this reader, what questions would you like answered? You might not know the answers yet, but list the questions anyway; you’ll find answers in the next step.
STEP 3: RESEARCH.
Collect every research result you have gathered and put it in a folder, an electronic document, a notebook or whatever you like. Don’t forget to keep track of sources in case you are later asked by an editor to verify them. You may want to sift through your research at a separate sitting from gathering it. Or just go ahead and sprinkle your research in right when you find it. It’s a lot like cooking—play around until you feel you have it “just right.”
STEP 4: TIGHTEN YOUR DRAFT.
Keeping your audience in mind, write a tighter draft incorporating the new supporting information you’ve collected. Sometimes what you’ve learned in Steps 2 and 3 may compel you to start over with a completely fresh draft. Or you may just want to revise what you have as you proceed, retaining a nice conversational tone by directly addressing your audience.
This time when you read your draft, ask yourself: Is it working? Is it too general, too lightweight, uninteresting, unclear or choppy? If so, comb some of your favorite publications for how-to articles. What techniques are those writers using that you might employ?
STEP 5: MAKE IT SPECIFIC.
Double-check to see that you’ve included every pertinent step in the process. How-to articles have to be thorough. You want your reader to walk away knowing exactly how to make that Thanksgiving dinner on a shoestring budget, execute that rugby tackle or locate great accommodations.
If your narrative goes on and on, or off in too many directions, break it down into key points indicated with subheads (as in this article). Synthesizing complicated information and breaking it down into steps is especially crucial for online writing, and is also a trend in print.
STEP 6: READ, REVISE, REPEAT.
Read the draft of your how-to article out loud to a supportive friend. Then, ask her a series of questions: Does she now understand the process? Are there any steps missing? Is there anything else she would like to know about the subject? Could she do the task herself? With your friend’s suggestions in mind, use your best judgment in deciding what changes, if any, need to be made.
Here’s a quick list to help you catch errors or omissions:
- Did you adequately describe the ingredients/supplies needed in order for the reader to complete the task?
- Did you include all the important steps?
- Is the order logical?
- Did you use words that indicate sequence: first, next, then?
- Did you warn readers of possible pitfalls?
Rewrite, read aloud, rewrite, read aloud, rewrite, find a proofreader and, only when you’re satisfied you’ve written an effective how-to article, submit your piece to an appropriate publication with a short cover letter.
So let’s start writing by now! J