Ask Wendy: Your Writing & Publishing Questions Answered

October 2007 Family Fun MagazineBy Wendy Burt Thomas

Q: Some argue that there’s no such thing as “writer’s block.” But procrastination is certainly real. How do you avoid it?

A: There are a few tips you can use to help fight procrastination on almost any project.

1) Always get plenty of information on the direction of your assignment. Beyond word count and deadline, this means asking specific questions about content. I’ve found that in nearly 100 percent of the cases, the projects that keep getting bumped off my daily to-do list are the ones that I feel somewhat confused about. Then, because I’ve waited too long, I’m embarrassed to call my client to ask for clarification. I’ve learned to ask a lot of questions up front and no one has ever complained!

2) Break your project down into specific and small tasks. Instead of “write 3,000-word feature article on public policy,” try:
· Make phone call to set up interview with lobbyist.
· Create list of questions for lobbyist.
· Find paragraph that explains what bill H-2356 is.
· Email chamber to see if they have any info on their public policy stance.

3) Make your first step the one that will likely garner you the most information: a phone interview, a visit to a website, or an email to a company’s media relations department. Oftentimes, just a short summary of the topic will create a snowball of momentum to help you (at least) write an outline.

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Wendy Burt is a successful full-time freelance writer and editor who has more than doubled her income since leaving her job as a newspaper editor just four years ago. With two women’s humor books for McGraw-Hill and more than 1,000 published pieces, Wendy’s work has appeared in such varied publications as Family Circle, The Writer, MSNBC.com, NewYorkTimes.com, Home Cooking Magazine and American Fitness. Wendy teaches “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” and still finds ample time to spend with her beautiful children, Gracie and Ben. Visit www.BurtCreations.com to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad.

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