How to Catch the Writing Bug
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By Stephen Bucaro
If you earn income as a writer, or use writing as a
marketing tool, you know how difficult it can be at times
to write. I started writing for my website and newsletter
a few years ago. Sometimes it would be two or three weeks
between articles. Sometimes writing would be torture. Then
one day I caught the writing bug.
Now I write two or three articles each day. I don't have
to struggle for topic ideas. I have thousands of good ideas
to choose from. Instead, now I struggle to limit the scope
of areas that I will write about. What happened to cause
this change? I caught the writing bug.
The writing bug is contagious, and by reading this article,
you too will catch the writing bug!
How to Choose a Topic
The most difficult part of the writing process is choosing
a good topic. A good topic is one that other people want
to read about and one that is interesting enough for you
to write about. Here's how to create a notebook full of
great topic ideas.
- Use a three-ring notebook as an idea file.
Your idea notebook should have two parts. The first part
is sheets where you jot down ideas whenever they pop into
your head. The second part is tabbed dividers where you
keep reference material and partially written articles.
Where do ideas come from? Everywhere! Ideas can come from
TV news or any TV show. They can come from a book,
newspaper, or magazine. They can come from the web. Ideas
can come from a conversation with a friend. All of these
sources are sending information and ideas to you.
After you learn how to catch ideas, your idea notebook will
be bulging with great ideas and research information for
article and book topics. You don't need to plagerize or
copy other peoples' work. Your article should be nothing
like the material that you get an idea from because you
have the "writer's attitude". Below are some thoughts from
a person with the writer's attitude.
- I can explain the topic better.
- I know more about the topic.
- I disagree with this source.
- I can approach that topic from another angle.
- I can elaborate more on that topic.
- I can write a more concise article.
- I can break the information up into more readable short
- I can write a more comprehensive article.
- I can write a more up-to-date article.
- I can rewrite that topic and include examples.
When an idea hits you, write it down in the first part of
your idea notebook. If the idea comes from an article, tear
the article out, punch holes in it, and save it behind a
tab in the second part of your idea notebook.
Now when you need an idea, just flip through your idea
notebook. Eventually your idea notebook will contain
thousands of great ideas to choose from.
- One surprising source of topic ideas is material that
you wrote previously. You can apply the writer's attitude
to your own articles.
How to Write the Article
The second most difficult part of the writing process is
actually writing the article.
First, make an outline. If you're going to write the entire
article in one sitting, the outline doesn't have to be in
writing, you can keep it in your head. If you're writing a
large article or a book, create a written outline.
- Sometimes when an idea pops into my head, I can visualize
the final article. I want to get it on paper before the
vision goes away, so I drop what I'm doing and write the
article immediately. This is when writing comes extremely
easy. I call this "flow".
Divide large projects into parts and write one part at a
time. Don't publish the first part of the article until
you have completed all the parts, or at least several of
the parts. When working on later parts of a multi-part
article, you may find it necessary to make some changes to
Your first draft doesn't have to be comprehensive. Just
get the main ideas down. You can go back and flesh it out
Your first draft doesn't have to have have correct spelling
and grammar. Just get words on paper (or on disk). You can
go back and correct the spelling and grammar later. The
first draft may not be perfect, but having an imperfect
first draft is a whole lot better than having a perfect
Go back later and revise your first draft. Make sure it
contains all the information and ideas you wanted to put
in the article. But keep in mind that almost any topic is
infinite. You have to limit the scope of your article
based upon the purpose of the article and the practicality
of doing the research required for a more comprehensive
I feel it's very important to let someone else read your
article. You may have written something in a confusing way
or a way that requires the reader to have some knowledge
or experience they can't be expected to have.
- If your article is for an audience that is expected to
already have some understanding of the subject, limit
explanations of the basics. You have to limit explanations
at some point or the article will be too long and too
boring to your target audience.
Go back and correct the spelling and grammar but don't try
for perfection. I see spelling and grammar errors in
magazines, newspapers, and on TV all the time. If all
writers waited until the spelling and grammar was perfect
before releasing their work, we wouldn't have anything to
I feel it's important to set your article aside until the
next day and then read it again. But don't take editing
to an extreme. No matter how many times you re-read your
article, you can always find something to change. Don't
try for perfection. Your goal is to create an article that
communicates the information and ideas that you intended.
Recognize when the article is good enough and meets the
If you are not an expert writer, keep learning by studying
a page or two each day of a grammar book such as Painless
Grammar by Rebecca Elliot
With your idea notebook, the writer's attitude and the
ability to recognize when an article is good enough, you
have the tools to be a productive writer. Have You caught
the writing bug?
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