I started my journalism career in radio so I became used to writing scripts that could be read in a minute or less. When I made the transition to newspaper I struggled to write longer stories. And when I started freelancing, I had bigger struggles as clients often asked for word counts. That’s a struggle I still have.
Recently I had a client request a piece that was at least 1,600 words. Given that my average piece in the newspaper was about 250 words, this was challenging. Some of my short police reports were less than 100 words.
If you are used to writing shorter pieces like I am, here are some tips for writing lengthy web content or articles.
• Do your research first. The client gave me some samples of what they liked and a link to the focus of the article so I had a head start on research. I am not always so fortunate.
• Do an outline of the piece. For this piece, the outline was not formal. I just outlined the sections I wanted and grouped my research into each heading. I ended up with five separate sections.
• Instead of writing one long piece, write it a section at a time. This is what made this project much easier for me. I didn’t even write the sections in order. I started with what I thought was going to be the longest section and then worked my way down to the shortest section.
• Take breaks. A lot of writers recommend this and it is the best advice you can receive. I usually write in 45 minute blocks with 15 minute breaks every hour. Sometimes I get ‘on a roll’ and I may write for an hour or even an hour and a half. But I find I do much better writing in short spurts. You have to find what works for you.
• Once you put it together, make sure you read it several times to make sure the sections flow together. I had to add some transitions once I put it all together to make sure it flowed as one piece and not five separate pieces.
I also apply these methods to my large crafting projects. If you have read my other blog, Kim J Inspired, you will find I often tackle large cross stitch pieces. It can get frustrating when you have stitched for a month and still have pages to go. So as I did with this long project, I break it up in sections and make my goal to do a section every few days.
How do you tackle big projects? I would love to hear your methods!