Good writing may be magical, but it's not magic. It's a series of actions and decisions that can be observed, learned and repeated. If you find yourself stuck, try these tips.

  • Lower your standards (at first). Drafts hold the promise of the final version. Look for the possibilities in raw copy instead of dismissing the effort as a failure. A draft is a necessary step on the way to publication.
  • Make a note. Instead of wasting precious minutes crafting the perfect lead, spew out a rough draft of a story, print and mark it up. Note what can be cut, what can be moved, what needs to be answered.
  • Write earlier. Let the draft guide your reporting. Find out what you know and what you need to know.
  • Keep at it. Writing is hard work, but it's fun. Strive to improve, but accept what you produce.

Taken from Get Me Rewrite: The Craft of Revision, a self-directed course by Poynter affiliate Chip Scanlan at Poynter NewsU.

Take the full course

Have you missed a Coffee Break Course? Here's our complete lineup. Or follow along at #coffeebreakcourse.