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Avoid Writing Articles from Scratch

Don't write an article from scratch. It's too much work! Possibly the best tip I can offer is to review all of the reports, proposals, papers, memos, outlines, and such that you've ever written and saved to determine their applicability as articles. As a management consultant, at the end of each engagement I had to write a client report. From those reports I was frequently able to pull out five and six-page passages that could be generalized and applied to a larger audience.

I bet you've held on to your college papers. You might find one or two publishable articles from term papers and compositions that you turned in for a letter grade. You'll be amazed to find that editors of publications are often much easier to deal with than your professors were. Also, remember that larger articles sometimes make wonderful shorter articles.

Spin it Around

If you've already written one article, producing spinoff articles is a marvelous technique for generating other articles. For example, I wrote an article entitled, "How to Build a Law Practice," following a consulting engagement I had with a Washington, D.C. law firm. The article essentially followed a "14 tips" format although I didn't use that title. I sent the article to Case and Comment in Rochester, New York, which accepted it for publication.

About a year later I was going through my files and came across the article. It dawned on me that with little time and effort I could convert that article to "How to Build a Medical Practice." In the previous year I'd worked with a couple of doctors and dentists and was now familiar with their terminology and the differences required to restructure my earlier article. I reworked "How to Build a Law Practice" 14 times, including versions for dentists, real estate agents, insurance agents, accountants, graphic artists, consultants, and others.

If selecting an article topic is difficult for you or if you suffer from writer's block, consider those articles and those topics that lend themselves to spin-offs, and you'll find yourself doubling, tripling, and quadrupling your publishing efforts!