With new magazines and newspapers shutting down each day, you might wonder, what's the point of learning article writing? With all of the layoffs in the industry, you might think soon there won't be any publications left to write for. And if you read enough blogs, you might even wonder, is old-fashioned journalism dead?
But here's the thing: writers still need to learn article-writing basics in order to write nonfiction well enough to get their words published. As long as people have the ability to communicate with each other through the written form, journalism skills will be in demand. And those who have them will get published and paid more often than those who don't. So don't worry so much about whether your words will be published in print or online. You'll still need skills no matter where your words are published.
And as far as blogging to become a better writer goes, I'm not convinced. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if the opposite is true. But I digress. I've been writing articles for over ten years and I've learned a thing or two on the topic that I'd like to share with anyone thinking about article writing as a platform-building strategy.
First of all, writers who know how to write for a target market know how to write for a specific audience. As an author, this is a skill you are going to need to cultivate and will use often. Furthermore, the ability to match your message to your audience comes in handy if you speak or consult with a variety of audiences.
Secondly, who says you are a good writer? Your blog readers? That's probably not going to be credible enough for most agents and publishers. When you write for publication, you go through the editing process and by the time you are done, your writing is likely a whole lot sharper and cleaner than it would have been without an editor. This kind of in-the-trenches experience will come in handy when you go through similar paces with your book drafts.
Third, if you regularly work with editors, this proves that you can actually cooperate with another human being to get a job done. It also means you have basic business skills and you likely treat your writing as a business. You have no idea how important this is to publishers who have seen far too many perfectly good book ideas bite the dust somewhere along the deadline process because a writer cracked under the pressure.
Are you beginning to see why taking shorter-form journalism assignments, hitting the deadlines, and seeing your words in print is great practice for the marathon of book writing?
Good. Because it takes writing skills to write a good book that readers want to not only read but also recommend to others to read. The idea that anyone can write a book is true, in the most general sense. But not everyone can write a good book, a readable book, the kind of book that meets readers' needs and compels them to tell others about the book.
So when someone tries to tell you that article writing is dead. Don't fall for it. Not even for one second. And then work on your article-writing skills. I've outlined a crash-course to help you learn quickly in chapter 23 of Get Known Before the Book Deal or check out my step-by-step approach in Writer Mama.
Happy article writing!
Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer's Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she teaches
writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.