By Lydia Dishman
I've had it.
Every time I start reading a story, the lede has some rehash about the economy, usually to the (droning) tune of this is bad, that is worse and this...just fuggedaboudit. Blah. Blah. Lazy. And really blah.
We get it. The economy sucks. And during this time that media outlets of all stripes are desperately trying to reinvent themselves, we writers shouldn't be getting lazy and treating our readers as if they just emerged from under a rock, pale and blinking into the strong light of reality.
As hyper-connected as most readers are, we need to go the extra mile to be creative and offer a turn of phrase, a tidbit of information, a truly absorbing story that will get their attention and keep them reading.
Oh, and did I mention this will improve your professional standing as a producer of quality content? Well it will.
If you are stuck for inspiration/better words/more information, here are some things to try:
-Read a book - preferably unrelated to the assignment at hand. For instance, if you are writing about food, go read something about building bridges. It will offer you a new menu of words and phrases for articulating your story.
- Attend a poetry or prose reading - again, unrelated to the assignment. Poetry is particularly good for journalists because a poem is a bit of non-fiction, a personal story, or occurrence that is viewed with a fresh perspective through use of language. The best poets can convey the mundane in an extraordinary way. If there are no readings near you, go to versedaily.org for a new dose of inspiration each morning.
- Make sure you have something to convey to your reader. As my prolific writer friend Mike Geffner says on his blog, "I'm not sure I believe in...writer's block. I do believe in people wanting so badly to be writers, but really have little, if nothing to say." You don't have to be an expert on your topic, just make sure you find several to interview. They'll have plenty to discuss.
- Take a walk. Clear out the mental cobwebs by looking around at things that are more than an arm's length away from your face. While you are out, collect words to describe what you see. Take a notebook if you think you might forget. Just words, not sentences. Then try to place at least two of those words in your assignment.
I'm sure you have some of your own. Please share them with us by dropping a comment in the box below.