Anyone can come up with a 350 word post on any topic in 15 minutes or less. But then again, that 350 word post can be 340 words too long or 350 words too short. Really, just like gifts, it’s the thought and skill that goes into the post that really matters.
Often, well written posts with substantial content will outperform posts that have been written hastily just in order to secure the claim of being the first to break a story. There may be a premium for being the first to post, but long term rewards go to those who post articles that skillfully convey a story in a manner that will be useful to a lot of people.
There is a way to balance currency and immediacy with craftsmanship and quality content that will give an article enduring relevance and contribute to building up traffic for a blog long after the posting date.
The idea of speed blogging has probably come about as a perceived necessity to either to be the first to post a news item or to post on a topic in the least amount of time so one can do the next item in a very busy work schedule. Both are valid reasons to attempt to write a blog post in minutes rather than hours.
In order to come up with a model for writing a quality blog post fast, one cannot overlook the practices inherent in journalism.
What news reporters can teach you about writing fast
The speed at which one can come up with a post is only secondary to the skillfulness and substance. Between attempting to be a speed blogging machine and reprising the feat of the writers of the King James Bible, is the tricky craft of journalism — one that is said to be a rough draft of history as well as literature in a hurry.
In the news business, reporters are expected to write a complete news story within 15 to 30 minutes because he or she is but part of a long and complex production chain where other people need time to accomplish their given tasks.
Coming up with a coherent set of 350 or more words about any event or topic can seem like a superhuman feat to someone who is just new to news reporting, . This is so, especially when you consider that in gathering news, a reporter must first physically cover a story either while it is happening or just hours after it has happened. They have to piece the story together from various facts that can be gathered while on the scene either by direct observation or by interviewing people on the scene. More often than not, the facts may be incomplete or the people on the scene may not have a full and coherent account of what happened. This makes understanding what happened and organizing the facts in a coherent manner seem impossible or at least, very difficult.
As a blogger, with little or no background in journalism, you might as well be in the same situation as a novice news reporter and there are a couple of things that help a reporter come up with a news article quickly. These are: Background Research and The News Writing Formula.
Bloggers (though not all of them) have a niche and this is akin to a reporter having a beat.
Normally, it is the blogger who hasn’t done enough research or the reporter who is new to a beat that fails to make sense of a story or event that they are covering. To those uninitiated to writing about or covering a particular story, things can appear to be in absolute disarray and they can miss the importance of what is happening right before their eyes.
If you have decided on blogging about a particular niche, the amount of time you spend researching on your topic actually cuts down the time between opening your dashboard and pushing the publish button.
The News Writing Formula
Using a formula to write can seem like cheating when the idea is to be as creative and interesting as possible. But, in reality, all great works of art are made by either sticking to a formula or finding an extreme cases for applying the formula to see what problems it will create and how these problems can be solved.
For people writing in a rush, having a formula is exactly like having a template not only for organizing information but for organizing one’s thoughts.
Most people think that news is just four “W’s” and in some instances, an “H” or that news is organized like an “inverted pyramid” and in both instances, people will be on the right path in discovering the thinking that goes behind how news articles are organized.
To gain better understanding of how the news article is organized, here is a classic structure of the news article:
Lead or Lede.
The function of the lead or lede is to give the reader the essence of what the rest of the article is all about and LEAD them into reading the rest of the article.
The lead usually answers the question: What happened?
The function of the lead support contains additional information that gives a fuller account of what was suggested in the lead. The lead and lead support complement each other, such that after reading the lead and lead support the reader can more easily understand the rest of the story or in the cast of blogging, feel confident enough to share the story to their friends.
The lead support usually answers the question: So what?
Telling a good story is not just about narrating the gradual progression of an event or enumerating the things that one has seen. In fact, if you were to do this, most people would simply tune out or just click to another page.
What is required in this part of the news story is to give an account of what happened in a meaningful manner which is unique and interesting. Providing all of the details isn’t as important as selecting the right details that will give the reader a vivid and memorable sense of what transpired.
This is where, sometimes, the “how” comes into play.
Few news stories will actually have the complexity that requires a thorough background. Background becomes necessary for some stories that might have been developing over a number of months or years, but this doesn’t necessarily mean drawing up an entire account of the events that transpired before the present development. What is needed is just enough background that will provide the reader with enough context to understand the magnitude of what just happened.
Paul Farol is a Filipino writer and blogger currently based in Manila. He is currently a media practitioner and is involved in community development projects in Northern and Southern Luzon, Philippines.