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Writing a solid article in 20 minutes

A talented journalist can put together an amazing article on a late breaking news item in less than an hour. Not only is such a skill highly impressive, it is necessary in a fast paced, highly competitive field where many are constantly burning the midnight oil.

Unfortunately for many journalism school students and other writers, writing can be a slow moving, difficult task. Just organizing your thoughts and planning out your article can take hours if you do not manage time correctly, and collecting background information and conducting interviews can add several more hours of production time.

But none of this effort, stress, and time wasting is truly necessary. If you would like to ascend to the top of your journalism class, you must learn to write quickly and efficiently. Here are some pointers for writing and finishing an article in twenty minutes or less.

  1. Focus on the basic questions of the piece. Write down the most relevant, pressing who, what, when, where, why, and how of the news event. These points are central to your entire article, so do not ever lose track of them.
  2. Keep the news wire in front of you, but keep a news ticker running in another tab or application on your computer. As you write, check the news updates to make sure there is no new information on the situation you are writing about.
  3. If there are new developments in the event or news item you are writing about, update your article accordingly. If you are on a seriously restricted time crunch, you may add late breaking details to the bottom of the article in italics, as a post script.
  4. Spent ten minutes writing nonstop, with no breaks for editing or to pause and collect your thoughts. Commit yourself to putting as many words on the page as possible, and do not stop to correct typos or other mistakes. Do not let your motivation flag.
  5. Find the most central, important sentence or paragraph in your entire article. It should describe the entire news item in a condensed, highly efficient form. Make this the lead to your article, or the central most section of the page. Build around it.
  6. Expand upon the central facts of the news item by inserting any other information you were able to gather in the short span of time you had allotted. Check the news wire again for updates, or use background information to illustrate.
  7. Spend your last five minutes proofing and editing the article. Cut awkward phrases and needless sentences.

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