How to write: 1

This may be the only sentence you remember. Still, I’m going to write a bunch more. They’ll explain how I write.

I always start with something that interests me. In this case, I’m interested in showing you how I write a column-length piece, about 800 words, give or take. I’m going to show you how I do that by doing that. It’ll take several days, perhaps a week because that’s how I write them—in short sessions each morning, sometimes only 15 minutes long, rarely more than 45.

On the first morning—this morning—I only try to figure out how the piece starts—the lede—and rough out what the rest might look like. The lede is up there at the top, the first 1-3 sentences. If I only read those, they should make me want to read more. They almost tell me what the next paragraph should be. When the writing is going well, the next sentence is always obvious. It practically writes itself. I can feel it.

If I can’t feel the next sentence, it means the previous one isn’t quite right. It’s time to stop and think and rewrite. It may be time to stop for the day and come back tomorrow.

Possible sketch of the rest:

  • Macro editing: ordering stuff
  • Micro editing: getting words right
  • After you’ve made your point, what else to say? Or are you done?
  • Find a reviewer/editor
  • The last few sentences are hard. Here’s a trick. Look at your first few sentences. They may be the only ones readers remember.

More tomorrow.



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