Writing Tip of the Day: Threesomes are Tricky…

Picture 5Writing an article is like delving into a relationship. There is commitment instilled into each piece. Ideally, a writer works hard to learn about the piece,  researching and interviewing sources, collecting information and getting to the truth of the subject. They are eager to work with the article, finding out what works and what doesn’t. They expertly manipulate transitions until the article reaches new heights of writing ecstasy and when it’s really good they introduce the article to family and friends.

There are times when there is trouble in paradise: You’ve got an article to write and you make a date, taking time out of your very busy editorial calendar. Unfortunately, what should have been time spent alone, wrapped up in each other turns into frustrating series of starts, stops and half-hearted efforts. Your attention is elsewhere – you’re jumping up to look for the mailman or stopping to check your email, Twitter or Facebook when you should be with your article. The relationship suffers and instead of slowly taking the article to new heights, you “wham bam” it and while the goal (finishing the article) is accomplished, the experience is cold and unfulfilling.

Sound familiar?

Multitasking is an overused and over-celebrated phenomenon, especially when it comes to writing. Words and a writer are meant to go at it one-on-one and yet, many routinely praise and advocate incorporating a third party in the mix. Whether it’s social media, chores or other people, taking a couple to a threesome rarely works out for all parties. The article suffers, the writer suffers and it is easy to lose sight of what’s important – the process and experience of writing. Starting and stopping in the middle of a project makes for frustrating, slow going work. Give your piece the attention it deserves – take it out, turn off the email and Twitter alerts, let the phone go to voice mail and special thing you do with your fingers – type!

Comments

  1. There are indeed studies that show that multitasking actually takes more time than doing the items by themselves.

    Before e-mail (yes, there was such a time), I had an editor who would shut off her phone at certain times of the day so she could concentrate on what she was doing without interruption. Not a bad idea.

  2. I am so new to the world of freelancing. I have faltered right out of the starting gate with our local daily newspaper stealing one of the stories I pitched and running with it with their in house reporter. It stinks and I’m trying to put it behind me.

    I am working on two articles right now – and this post speaks to me because focus is my biggest challenge right now!

    • Annie, that does stink, did you contact the editor about it?

      Focus always is an issue for freelancers whether you are a writer or a graphic designer, I often think that people have it wrong when they say co-workers are more distracting, nothing calls to a at home worker than the couch, the TV or the fridge!

  3. Yes. I spoke with the editor and the reporter who ultimately crafted the piece (which ran front page in today’s edition!!). I got two very watery aplogies. They said they didn’t know I was pitching to write it myself – this despite me stating so explicitly twice in my pitch – and implied by the fact that I told them I had lined up an interview with an expert. They took my story idea, all the points I said I would cover in my article – and they interviewed my source!

    They stole it plain and simple.

    I am encouraged that 1. My story was a great one – so great that they chose to run the topic on their front page. and 2. I was spot on with how I was going to cover the article.

    I am new to freelancing as I said – I’ve been reading much great information here, and from other sources on getting started – on being persistent etc so I won’t let this set back put me off.

    My pitch in this case was to the Features editor – whom I am obviously now very wary of ever dealing with again. I am being encouraged by someone who works for this paper to pitch again – but this time to the Managing Editor. I have two good local interest stories I’m working on – but to be honest – I am gun shy. Although I’m not deterred from persuing freelancing in general – I am still wary of this publication as a whole. I’m being encouraged to write the article and submit it completed – but again – not sure if this is my best approach?

  4. Tania Mara says:

    I can’t stand this “multitasking” thing anymore. It seems to be everywhere. Worse yet, multitasking fans are everywhere too–all ready to criticise you because you don’t live in their ideal world, where you can perform ten tasks at once and look like a perfect hero.

    This article was a pleasure to read. I liked the analogies you used. :)

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