Promises are meant to be kept.
Lina was traveling on the day 5 of the os.me writing workshop (second edition). She asked me to write up the notes from Day 5. I agreed but never got to it. Not that I didn’t intend to – I fully intended to do so – but as the adage goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
When I decided to craft my custom one-article-a-day challenge, I was excited at the opportunity to finish up unfinished articles and write articles I had promised to write. I didn’t know which articles I would finish, but I knew that I would finish this one and keep my promise (even though I procrastinated for another 20-odd days to write this).
Without further ado, here is a summary of Medha Shri’s lecture from Day 5 of the second os.me writing workshop.
Payoja Verma Describes Yellow
On the previous day, Medha Shri assigned an exercise to the participants: Write an article describing the color yellow by appealing to the senses.
I found this exercise very tough. The participants unleashed their creativity and came up with beautiful descriptions of Yellow.
Is this piece prose? Is it poetry? It was yellow for sure. It is a piece to study. It is a piece to learn how to write.
Successful writers start writing before they start writing.
They don’t sit down and let their hands flow where their mind goes. (Well, they sometimes do, this technique is called stream of consciousness). They try and plan out their writing, they try to form mind maps. Here are some questions to ask before starting to write:
- What topic do you want to write about?
- What will it cover?
- What is the article going to achieve?
Good writers do research for their articles.
This is the day of powerful search engines – performing research is just one google search away.
Medha Shri recommended reading 5-6 articles on your topic so that you get an idea of existing literature on your chosen topic.
Some Headline Templates
The headline of an article is supremely important. These few seconds are all that a writer has to convince the reader to read their piece.
Medha Shri offered a few suggestions that work in the world of online writings
- “How to” articles
- Listicles – 5 ways to do X
- Achieve Y in 5 easy steps.
When you write listicles, you should pare down the body of your article into the said 5 ways/steps.
Surprise the Reader
Don’t bore the reader. – Om Swami
Good writers surprise the reader.
They offer the reader a hook, after which the reader is compelled to read on.
Articles that offer no surprise become predictable, and the reader loses interest.
Newer writers have straightforward goals:
- Build the writing muscle
- Press publish (even if your article is bad. Especially if your article is bad.)
- Improve writing skills
Experienced writers can explore other considerations. One such consideration is search engine optimization. How do you position your article so that search engines like your article?
Search engines like articles that are at least 800 words long. This is one reason why 800-1200 words is the recommended length of an article.
The topic of SEO is an ocean – which was outside the scope of the lecture. The workshop made the participants aware of the presence of a factor called SEO, so that interested folks can research SEO skills in the realm of online writing.
Some Questions That Your Article Should Answer
Your articles should ideally answer some questions:
- What do I want my article to achieve?
- How am I going to achieve it?
A Sample Template for Your Articles
Here is a sample template you can use to structure your articles
- Your first sentence should offer a strong hook
- Introductory paragraph
- 2-3 paragraphs covering the main points of your article
- A conclusion
- Takeaways (usually in the conclusion)
If you haven’t read it already, here are some writing tips from the os.me first workshop.
Do try and attend Medha Shri’s workshops.
And thank you Lina – for asking me to write this summary.
Image Credit: Cathryn Lavery from Unsplash