If you are interested in writing an article for a magazine, newsletter, blog, or website, then there are a few things you can do to make the writing experience more efficient and enjoyable and ensure that your article is of a high quality. While there are many different styles of articles, from advice columns to research papers, there are a few things that will make the process easier regardless of the type of article you wish to write. Read on for some tips on how to write a great article!
The first piece of advice that applies to writing all genres and styles is to read, and to read a lot. Reading expands your vocabulary, improves your grammar, and broadens your knowledge, and can help inspire you in your own writing. Whether you’re writing a novel, non-fiction book, or article, reading other people’s writing in those genres (or even outside of those genres) is an invaluable way of becoming a better writer. Obviously, taking ideas from other people’s work isn’t advisable, as it opens you up to unoriginality and plagiarism, but learning from other people is always a great way to improve your craft in any area. Subscribe to newsletters or magazines, make use of your library membership, or even download a few e-books on your phone so that you are consuming high-quality content regularly, which will expand your knowledge and improve your skills.
Choose Your Topic
If you’re writing an article, much like the one you’re reading now, then the first step is to choose a topic. Think carefully about the areas in which you are knowledgeable and about the kind of article you would enjoy and benefit from reading – if the topic isn’t interesting to the writer, then that will more likely than not show through the writing and make it less enjoyable for the reader. If the article is an opinion piece, choose a topic you feel strongly about and can really get behind, or if you are writing to offer advice, then choose a subject you feel confident sharing your knowledge on – people are far more likely to accept and seek-out advice from people who know and care about the subject on which they are writing. Create a list of article topics you are interested in writing about, starting with broader topics and then breaking each one down into more specific categories. For example, if I knew I wanted to write on the topic of wellbeing, I could narrow that topic down to include fitness, nutrition, meditation, therapy, or mindset, all of which could be further broken down into more specificized categories. If your article has a longer word count, then you have more room to cover broader topics, but if your article has to be relatively short, then keeping it as specific as possible will mean you can do your subject justice and not miss out valuable information.
Read and Research
The second step is to research the topic carefully. Read around the subject and look for other people who are writing your chosen subject to develop an understanding of the existing works and established writings in that field. Go into your research with a list of questions; if you are writing about a certain concept, then you might be interested in researching where it originated, what the terminology means, how it has developed over time, etc. When the writer of an article is informed and has a deep understanding of the topic they are writing, the reader is far more likely to be receptive and appreciative, so knowing the topic well is vital. Additionally, if the subject you wish to write on has a large quantity of existing articles on the subject already, then it might be a good idea to make your own article more specific or change it slightly so that you don’t run the risk of merely repeating what has already been said.
If you are writing an opinion piece, then consider reading the opinions of those who disagree with or challenge your opinions. Writing an article, in many ways, is similar to forming an argument, which means knowing your subject well enough and believing your point of view strongly enough that you can consider the other sides of the story and still feel committed to your own argument. If you have only considered one point of view, then your article will feel less well-rounded and not address the full chosen topic, so make sure you consider all sides before approaching the topic. When presenting an argument, acknowledging, and analyzing both sides before presenting your own conclusions is one of the most important criteria, particularly in academic writing, and proves to your reader that you truly understand your chosen topic.
Once you have read around the topic and done your research, then you are ready to start writing. Your word count for an article will be much shorter than other genres, so having a tight structure is important, as it allows you to address all of the points you’d like to address within the chosen word count. Unlike fiction or a longer piece of writing, articles are more succinct and straight-forward, so after introducing your topic, begin presenting your argument immediately. The most common structure is an introduction, followed by a few paragraphs, each usually covering a different topic or subject within your chosen field, and then a short conclusion that summarizes the article. There are times when anecdotes are appropriate, such as to provide an example to strengthen your argument or to offer insight, but for the most part articles should be written in a more formal style and staying on topic is the best course of action. With a shorter word count, you may find yourself completing your article in one sitting but try and step away from your writing for an hour or so after you have completed it, do something completely unrelated for a while, and then return to the article with fresh eyes so you can proof-read more efficiently and tie up all the loose ends before submitting. Getting another person to read over your work is always a good idea, but if this is not possible, then proof-reading after taking some time away is the next best thing. When proof-reading, don’t rely on built-in spellcheckers, as they often cannot detect the context of a sentence or word as well as a person can, and often miss vital grammar mistakes, so always look over your own work rather than using a digital proof-reader. It is also beneficial to read your writing out loud where possible, so you can hear whether a sentence is running on too long, or if you have repeated a word too frequently.
Know Your Audience
The final piece of advice on writing an article is to know your target audience. If you are writing for your personal blog, then a more casual and relatable tone might suit the style well, whereas articles such as this one should sound less informal and slightly more professional. For academic articles, the writing style is usually extremely professional, and a higher level of research and reference is required, so colloquial language, anecdotes, and personal opinions would be inappropriate. Knowing exactly what style of writing is appropriate for the piece you are working on is vital, so take your audience and the requirements into consideration.
Of course, there are many other things that go into being a great writer and writing a great article. Practicing your craft is of course the best way to improve and gain more experience in your chosen field, so write as much as possible even if you don’t intend to share your writing with others. Sitting down and writing is the only way your article is going to get written, so the most important tip is to write!