15 writing tips from a journalist turned PR pro

A former reporter reveals her secret to make any writing project easier.

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It can, anyway, unless you know exactly what you want to say. Seeing a vast sea of nothing can deepen feelings of being, literally, adrift. (It sure does for me.)

Now, think of a time when you wrote down a shopping list before heading to the grocery store. Or jotted down the things you needed to take on a trip before you packed. Simple recipes or driving directions can serve a similar role: steady reassurance. When consulting such reminders, I tend to check them repeatedly in tackling the task at hand.

Here’s my secret to writing: before I start, I make a map. (Really, it’s more of a list.) I’ve been doing it for decades for news stories with urgent deadlines as well as for projects that took months to complete. It always makes the writing part easier. I find it keeps things clicking smartly along. When I feel lost, I just look at my map.

Tips for how to make a map-like list for your next written task:

1. At the top of the page briefly describe the audience.

2. Next, write the main reason for writing this. What is the most important thing for the audience to do? Keep it short.

3. Now come the main ideas. I use a dash or asterisk to start each item, so I can just type them without worrying about the order.

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