Writing an article can be both easy and hard. You have to prepare yourself and be ready for the information that you might need and other resources. To make it easier, here are some simple steps that might help you in writing an article.
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. Be more specific and, as such, easier to tackle.
Then write a rough, rough draft, including everything you can think of. Stay loose, avoid getting analytical, and enjoy the process of sharing what you know. When you’re done, you’ll have the bare bones of an article that only you could write. Then put it aside for a while.
STEP 2: ADDRESS YOUR AUDIENCE’S NEEDS.
Now, come back to your piece. Switch gears and imagine you’re the reader of this article. Try to know the needs of your reader so you know where to focus on.
STEP 3: RESEARCH.
Research will ground your article in fact. Good details to include with your how-to are:
- Quotes by well-known people
- Anecdotes (short, illustrative stories about yourself or someone else)
- Quotes and examples from people like the reader or from popular books on the subject
- References to other media (film, television, radio)
- Helpful tools, resources or products (if many, consider creating a sidebar)
- References to local venues or events (if for a regional/local publication).
Collect all the data that you will need. Put in a specific folder so it will not mixed up with your other files as well as it will be easier for you to locate these data just in case you will need it.
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.
You have to read several times your draft. Ask questions to yourself, does it support your topic well? Does it fit with my audience? From there, you will know if you need to have simple revisions or not.
STEP 5: MAKE IT SPECIFIC.
Make your article as specific as much as possible. Be direct to the point. If it requires a certain explanation it is fine but make sure that you do not go beyond your scope.
STEP 6: READ, REVISE, REPEAT.
Read your draft. Again and again and again. In this way you will see the changes that you made or if it needs to have some changes still.
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.