Originally Published on OpEdNews
Pick a topic you care about. Start writing. Assume that what your first write is just that, a first draft. Give yourself permission to heavily edit it, or even to throw it all out. Expect to keep just a percentage of your "first dump." That's what it is-- a dump, dredged, pulled, teased or seduced from your inner self, the deeper the better.
Sometimes it takes a few or numerous false starts to really hit paydirt, to reach down deep enough to find some truths worth telling. Sometimes you just spew out a quick rant. Sometimes you dig deep, write for a while, going even deeper, and find, in an accidental word or phrase, turn of a few words, which express something that has deep meaning to you. These moments sometimes come easily and naturally and sometimes only come after writing pages of what will eventually be thrown away. It's like searching for gold.
Once you feel you've struck some gold, touched a nerve, a heartfelt place, a lightbulb moment, then, when the momentum slows, pull back and start editing. See if the sequence is the best one. Sometimes the best ideas come later, even though they should be earlier in the piece.
One way to make sure your writing has the ability to touch others is to include stories, real stories, anecdotes that go into detail, not just about time and place and things, but feelings, facial expressions, reactions... They can be very brief, but a poignant story can turn an average article into a memorable, extraordinary one. The Introduction to Story CD course is an excellent resource.
Are the words spelled properly, even the ones the spell checker ignores? Are your apostrophes on all the words that need them? Read it out loud. Does it flow? Is all the grammar correct? Fine tune it. Polish it up. It's more important for you to read it to yourself than for other people to read it. Dont' expect the people you live with to give you much useful feedback. Some will edit minor typos. Some will tell you it's wonderful. It's very rare to have someone you live with who can really help edit your writing. If you do have such a person, you're very lucky.
Once you are finished, and only after you've finished, start thinking about the actual title. It's okay to come up with a tentative title when you start writing, though I rarely do.But don't stay committed to it. Try to pick a short title that really does say what the article is about.
Avoid cliche phrases that don't say anything that clearly describe the contents of the article. A lot of novice writers are tempted to use such phrases. It's a mistake, because they don't really attract the reader and are only witty or cute once the article has been read, which is less likely, with this kind of weak title. On the other hand, a witty title that includes phrases, but that tells the key elements of the article can be excellent.
Next, create a description that starts the article or diary, and for articles, is used as a teaser to tell the reader more about what the story is about in brief few sentences in a paragraph or two. You don't have to end the description with a period. You can end with...
three periods, suggesting more to come.
Once you've written the article, or blog diary, you can paste it into the OpEdNews Content management system
If you want to include an image or embed an audio or video hosted on another site with your article, click on the Media-Submit button.
You'll paste your title into the title field, the description into the description field. Your name should be filled in already. If you are going to submit an article, you need your real name, not a user name. Articles are spidered by news sites, like google news, and we want legitimate names on them.
If you would like your readers to take an action, you can create an action page that your article will be linked to, which will enable your readers to send a message to their federal legislator and or local daily newspaper. Type the message you want the legislator to get, which will become the title of the page, like "Oppose bill number 123 enslavement of non-believers." The page will be created when your article is published, along with another page, linked to from your article, that is a log of the most recent 25 messages sent via the action page in response to your article. At the time of this writing, OpEdNews is the only site on the planet that offers this capability.
When you're done filling in the fields, click on "preview article" select some subject tags and locale categories that are relevant to your article. You can pick up to 18. The more you pick, the more inside pages your article will appear on. You can always click the locale field where you live. When you're finished selecting tags, click on the USE THESE TAGS button.
Next, next step. A new page will appear. Click on the link to see what the page looks like. If it looks good, go to the other page and click publish. If it doesn't look quite right, or you need to make a modification, click on revise. Once you click on publish, your diary will be published, live. If you decide to publish as an article, it will go into the editor's queue. If you start out submitting it as a diary, you can proceed to publish it as a public diary, or, you can change your mind and publish it as an article, probably in the OpEdNews Op-Eds category or as a news or life/arts/science sections.