We’ve all been there.
You begin writing up a piece — it could be a press release, op-ed, script, anything — and a few paragraphs into it the words just aren’t coming. You don’t know exactly where you’re going anymore and you don’t seem to be making a coherent point. In other words, you’re lost.
It’s time to take a step back and think about what you intended to say in the first place. What is the one key idea that drives the piece? Here’s a simple method I use to solve this problem.
I write a headline.
Now, I don’t recall where I first came across this idea, though I’m pretty sure it was a newsroom somewhere. I’ve found the approach works extremely well … despite my lack of direct attribution. (If you’re the one who brought it to my attention, please respond with a comment.)
The concept is this: If you can’t write a compelling headline about your idea, you haven’t developed the concept well enough to put it down on paper.
Give it a try. When you get stuck as described above, go back and try to craft a headline. It should set up the entire piece and encapsulate the main idea. This isn’t always easy. But as a practice, it forces you to think about just what you’re trying to say. And anything that gives us an opportunity to sit back and think a little has got to be good!