How to put an article together quickly involves much the same things as trying to put anything together quickly: you need to start out with a clear idea of what you want to end up with, and then use a variety of tools to get yourself from the beginning to that end.
In an earlier article, I looked at how to get you started on a blog item when you’re confronted by the dreaded Blank Screen. But let’s say you have applied that advice and now have a paragraph written. You have started - where do you
go from there?
The Washing Line
In writing a blog - especially if you want to write one post a day for a long period of time - you won’t want to be struggling to remember some conceptual idea about ‘logic’ or ‘argument’ while putting the thing together. Most writers find that the pressure of time makes them almost unable to think at all. You’ll need an idea, preferably a simple one, to try to keep your item on track.
This is where the Washing Line comes in. I first developed this to teach students how to write essays in school, and it worked incredibly well. Now let’s apply the same idea to writing a blog.
Imagine that the washing line above is your blog article.
The first post, with the bird on top, is your completed introduction, bright and solid.
The opposite post is your conclusion.
Between the two is the line of your article, with its major points being the items of washing on the line.
Your task now is to string the points you want to make about the subject under discussion along the line.
Let’s say have a blog about food and you want to write an article on the different ways of making a pizza.
Talk about the first way first. Make the points you want to make, nicely spaced out, and accompany each with a picture or an example if you can. Then move onto the next item, the second way of making pizzas - make the statements, back each up with a picture or example. The pictures and examples are like the ‘pegs' on the line, if you like, making sure that whatever you are saying is pinned to the subject under discussion, so you don’t wander off the track.
Is it a logical argument, making one point after another chronologically through the article?
Well, what is Logic, in this sense? It’s some kind of ordered way of moving a reader through a subject so that he or she comes out understanding what you are saying and probably agreeing with it. Let’s assume that you are trying to lead the reader through through the ways of making pizza to some kind of complete thought or impression at the end. It is fair to assume that by tracking along in this way, you will be following enough of a pattern to bring the reader of your article to some kind of ‘logical’ conclusion.
If you follow this method - item by item, point by point, illustrated by pictures or examples - all will be well and you will probably yourself see strands connecting the ways of making pizza together and linking them to the overall topic of Italian food, for example.
Don’t forget to mention any connections you discover as you go along, as these are the things which not only answer questions that readers have, they give you a better impression in readers’ minds overall.
As you approach the opposite post, your conclusion, if you have been paying attention to your own writings enough, an overall connecting idea or two will probably have occurred to you. These will form the basis of your conclusion.
This is a method which can be used for any subject.
Provided that you have a good grasp of your subject, the Washing Line Method gives you a working tool to transform notes into things with shape and substance, ideas into statements, notions into firm conclusions, and everything into an article which will make the grade.
Stick some kind of Call to Action at the end, and you have yourself a decent blog item.
As you practise this time and time again, it will become second nature and you won’t have to think in terms of a ‘washing line’ every time. But this method, using this image, should get you from the crafted introduction we looked at
earlier to a clever and productive conclusion every time.
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